A Long Way Gone


The fables or stories that Ishmael and the children of his village were told as children were meant to instruct them and teach them life lessons. How is the memoir A Long Way Gone in some ways a modern fable? What should we learn from Ishmael’s story?

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A Long Way Gone can be a fable of survival. From the moment he fled the violence at Mattru Jong, the focus of Beah's life became surviving day to day. He learns quickly that in order to survive, he must suppress his true emotions. After the RUF attacks Mattru Jong, Beah lets go of his prior attachments to family and friends, joining up with boys who, like him, are on the run. Even though he welcomes the company, he remains emotionally distant from his newfound friends. When they die or become separated from one another, Beah does not have time to mourn. His goal is to live through one more day, and he can't afford to stop and think about the atrocities around him. Although most of us have not experienced the type of Trauma Beah has, we can appreciate his struggle to survive and appreciate how his determination might extend into our own lives.