A Long Way Gone

What is the book more about?

I have to write an essay about the book "A Long Way Gone". There are three themes in this book, "Loss and Hope" , "Struggle and power" , and "Innocence and progress". What theme best describes the whole book?

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These themes are all very important in the novel, but if I had to choose one it would be "loss and hope." The things that Beah loses in Sierra Leone, and the fact that he is able to move forward and find hope help the reader to understand that all hope is not lost.... that these boys can and do become functioning adults when give the understanding and opportunity they deserve.

Life and Hope

Hope comes in the starkest terms for Beah during his ordeal. When on the run from the RUF, Beah is able to comfort himself with memories of his earlier life. His father's saying, "If you are alive, there is hope for a better day and something good to happen. If there is nothing good left in the destiny of a person, he or she will die" is enough to push him towards another day. (p. 54) Being alive one more day is proof that all is not yet lost.

When he is a soldier, however, Beah forfeits a connection to his life. Hope dims in the haze of drugs and violence. Beah gives up any dream of a future beyond simply surviving. However, his father's adage rings true once rehabilitation begins. After speaking at the UN, Beah's hope is rekindled. He meets many children like him and sees that his experiences can have an impact on the world. For once, he realizes that someone will care if he lives or dies. Far away from the civil war, Beah's life has meaning again. In New York, also meets storyteller Laura Simms who offers him a lifeline out of Sierra Leone - which he eventually takes.

The Damages of War

Beah's memoir sheds light on the multifaceted damage done by civil war and terrorism. The anguish of losing his family and friends is compounded by the uncertainty each day brings. Although they attempt to find a safe haven from the war, the boys know from bitter experience that no such place seems to exist in Sierra Leone. Each new village brings either hopelessness - in the form of desolation and isolation - or hostility on the part of the frightened inhabitants. Beah feels that there is no place for him to call "home" any longer, and fears that such a place may never exist in his future. Whatever dreams or goals he had set no longer seem possible.

As a soldier, the fear subsides and he is forced to tap into rage and vengeance in order to survive. The constant violent acts Beah is subjected, as well as the drugs he becomes addicted to, tamp down his fear - but also his humanity. The war also breaks down civilization. Beah notes that before the war, kids his age would never raise their voice against adults. But the rebels and soldiers respect no one. Because of this, when Beah travels in packs of other lost boys, they are assumed to be devils. The civil war leads to chaos and mistrust on both personal and community levels.