A Long Way Gone

How did Ishmael Beah's grandmother explain the local adage that "we must strive to be like the moon"? Why has Ishmael remembered this saying ever since his childhood? What does it mean to him?

page 16 in the book "A long way gone"

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In explaining the old man's comment about being like the moon, Ishmael's grandmother notes that although people are often bothered by the bright light of the sun, few people ever complain about the moonlight. She tells him that good things happen under the light of the moon. Ishmael later comes to see the moon as a source of solace that provides him with encouragement.

I remember asking my grandmother what the old man meant. She explained that the adage served to remind people to always be on their best behavior and to be good to others. She said that people complain when there is too much sun and it gets unbearably hot, and also when it rains too much or when it is cold. But, she said, no one grumbles when the moon shines. Everyone becomes happy and appreciates the moon in their own special way. Children watch their shadows and play in its light, people gather at the square to tell stories and dance through the night. A lot of happy things happen when the moon shines. These are some of the reasons why we should want to be like the moon.


A Long Way Gone