A Long Way Gone

What do you discover about the way Ishmael began his military career?

When Ishmael arrives at the fortified village of Yele in chapter 12, what do you discover about the way he began his military career? Was his service, and that of his equally young friends, necessary? What made his conscription different from that of drafted American soldiers serving in previous wars?

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We quickly discover how these children are forced, indoctrinated and used in the service of war. Ishmael and his friends are basically forced by soldiers (children don't question large men with guns) downriver to Yele, which is occupied by the military. This is the first place where they feel relatively safe in a long time. They get food and even a job. Soon the indoctrination begins and then they are boys with guns; they are child soldiers. It's kind of like Oliver Twist except with big guns and more blood. Men drafted in America were exactly that, they were men! Children were not drafted nor were they given Brown Brown (cocaine and gunpowder) to make them brave in battle. So yes, the two situations were completely different.