a long way gone discussion questions
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The natural world is constant throughout this book. In fact, it is the only thing that is constant in Ishmael's life. He takes solace in nature's elements because they are predictable. Even with the constant threat of war encroaching, "The sun peacefully sailed through the white clouds, birds sang from the treetops, the trees danced to the quiet wind." As the novel progresses repeated images of nature, often gentle and soothing, sustain Ishmael through his ordeal. The moon, in particular, provides him with hope, "My grandmother told me why we should strive to be like the moon....." So, Ishmael would stare at it and imagine shapes within it like a "woman cradling a baby at her breast." At the same time the elements were an ominous warning of things to come. Dark skies and war's infringement on nature serve (animals startled by gunfire) as examples of this. The dead bird too is certainly ominous in nature. It is a warning not heeded by his friend Saidu.