A Long Way Gone

A Long Way Gone Summary and Analysis of Chapter 19


Beah eventually leaves to stay permanently with his uncle. Before he leaves, he says goodbye to Esther, who gives him her address so he can visit. He visits once, but finds her on her way to work; it is the last time he sees her. Beah bids a tearful and heartfelt farewell to his friends at Benin Home, then leaves to join his new family.

Beah arrives in his new home and is treated to a feast prepared by Aunt Sallay. Allie, the oldest of his new “siblings” shows Beah around and tells him where he will sleep. Beah quickly assimilates to the ways of the family, although he is unable to speak frankly about his time in the military. Allie takes Beah dancing; Beah meets a girl whom he later begins dating, but the relationship does not develop because Beah cannot find words to express his days as a child soldier.

Later, Leslie comes to see Beah at his uncle’s house. He brings with him an invitation from Mr. Kamara to interview for one of two positions to travel to New York to speak to the United Nations about the situation in Sierra Leone. Beah agrees to the interview, but his uncle half-heartedly warns him not to get his hopes up. At the interview, Beah finds himself set apart from all the city boys who dress nicely and understand urban fixtures such as an elevator. The other boys laugh at Beah’s naivete. However, when he is interviewed Beah tells his examiner that he is more qualified to speak to the UN because he has experienced child soldiering and rebel atrocities firsthand, whereas these other boys have only heard or read about it. The interviewer smiles at Beah, leading the boy to think the man is not taking him seriously. Nonetheless, Beah is called back to begin the process of preparing for his trip to the United States.

Throughout the arduous preparation to leave, Beah’s uncle jokingly warns Beah again not to get his hopes up. Even on the day Beah departs for the airport to fly to the U.S., his uncle and the rest of his new family laugh and joke that he will only be “late for dinner.”


Beah captures the whirlwind nature of his changing circumstances through abrupt shifts in setting and time in this chapter. In a matter of pages, Beah is dining at his new home, then dancing at a pub, then interviewing in a tall building in the city. Not much later he is at the Sierra Leone embassy and back at his temporary home packing his bags to fly to America.

An ironic contrast in naivete is present in this chapter. Whereas Beah is unfamiliar with urban living conditions (as displayed in his confusion at the nature and operation of an elevator), the boys with whom he is competing are unaware of the harsh realities Beah has grown up dealing with every day. Beah’s interchange with the CAW interviewer, in which he takes the interviewer’s smiling as a sign that he thinks Beah’s suffering is humorous, presages the later encounter at the Sierra Leone embassy, where the round-faced interviewer on the other side of the glass demands documents proving Beah was born in Sierra Leone: “I became really upset and almost slapped the man…He was naïve about the reality I was trying to explain to him” (p. 189). Beah has fought and killed men over political ideology and in order to survive; this government bureaucrat considers himself to possess power because he can demand a piece of paper that was most likely destroyed by the very violence that created Beah’s situation. Despite his seemingly uncouth nature, Beah is most qualified to speak at the UN.