A Long Way Gone

Towards the end of the novel, Ishmael overhears a mother telling her two children a story that he also heard as a child. What is the message of this story?

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The story Beah chooses to end the memoir with gives insight into Beah’s attitude toward the oppressors in Sierra Leone. The tale of the hunter is meant as a childhood philosophical discussion to force young men and women to weigh an impossible dilemma. Beah knows his choice seems hard-hearted (resulting in his mother's death), but he wants to focus on solving the greater problem beyond the choice between the life of one parent or another. He identifies the monkey who forces the choice as the true threat, and wishes to eliminate that threat to future “hunters.” From this the reader can infer that Beah would see the military regime in Sierra Leone toppled so that it no longer forced boys to choose between life and death, between family and military service, or between childhood and violence - even if it demands a sacrifice. Beah's childhood and innocence were sacrificed, but with this memoir, his words can expose and hopefully help end the atrocity.