General Forum Discussion
In “A Long Way Gone,” Beah writes that a young boy he was forced to become a child soldier and had to deal with violence as well as death. Later in his memoir, Beah writes that he was discharged from his military duties and given to UNICEF for rehabilitation. Violence had become second nature to him, and the rehabilitation process was rather difficult for Beah. However, he was successfully able to be rehabilitated and went to live with his uncle. After his uncle's death, another conflict threatens to send him back to being a soldier again. Beah had chosen exile instead of violence.
While in exile, Beah remember stories that he was told as a boy that comforts him. They are a great comfort to him because now he no longer have any close family, and the stories remind him of them. To be displaced or exiled means giving up familiar places and leaving behind people who were part of your community. Beah, when he arrives at the Sierra Leone Embassy, states, “The sight of all these people reminded me of a few villages I had passed through while running away from the war.” (Beah 260)
For Beah, leaving Sierra Leone was a scary experience. He worries about what will happen the next day. However, he was happy that he was able to leave Freetown before the conflict had happened. He is comforted to know that he would not have to fight in any war. Beah copes with the feelings by remembering a story that was told to him about a monkey. We can learn a lot from how Beah copes with his emotions.
As a reader, Beah’s ability to cope with his feelings seem to help comfort him. By remembering his past, Beach can continue with his life while in exile. He shows his readers that even though life took him down a path of violence, death, and exile, there are still ways to remember the good as well as the past.
In his memoir, fate, destiny, and religion played some parts in the outcome of Beah’s life. While fate and destiny went together, those aspects of his life were not entirely out of Beah’s control. At the beginning of the memoir, Beah was able to escape the conflict because he was in another village. That was fate. However, his destiny was to become a child soldier and later a soldier in the Sierra Leone military. He was able to take control of his destiny when he decided to go into exile rather than kill again. As for religion, at the beginning, Beah speaks about gods and ancestors yet he is a Muslim. As a child soldier, he turns away from religion. He returns to religion when he seeks help with his rehabilitation.
General Peer and Myself Review on the Essay
A review of my essay on "A Long Way Gone" shows that destiny is not something that is out of our hands. A person can be in charge of his or her destiny. In his memoir, Beach is controlled by his destiny at the beginning. He is not around when armed men take over his village. He loses his family and becomes a child soldier. He is rehabilitated even though he does not want it. In the end, Beah takes control of his destiny when he decided to go into exile instead of becoming a soldier again.
Does the introduction include a specific thesis statement? What is it?
The introduction does include a specific thesis statement. The thesis statement is as follows:
The idea that “You make your own destiny” is only partly true because there are times when a person makes a decision that affects others rather than themselves.
(Paragraph # 1, Sentence #2)
Does the introduction make you want to keep reading? Why or why not? What can the writer do to improve the introduction?
Yes, the introduction is well thought out and gives the reader something to ponder while reading further. To improve the introduction, the writer should go into a bit more detail about how destiny can be control and be uncontrollable as well. (Paragraph #1 Sentence #2)
Has the writer written statements that support his or her main point/argument/thesis statement? If yes, identify them—underline them. If not, what are some statements that might support the thesis statement?
Yes, the writer has written statements that support his or her thesis statement.
While our personal responsibility when it comes to morals issues is to choose the positive aspects of a situation; children do not have the same decision-making skills as those found in adults. (Paragraph #2 Sentence #1)
Things that happens to people in childhood as well as in adulthood shapes how they interact with and view the world. (Paragraph #3 Sentence #1)
Beah admits to killing many people during his time as a child soldier during the Sierra Leone civil war. (Paragraph #4 Sentence #1)
Has the writer included specific details as evidence for his/her supporting statements? Has the writer provided sufficient evidence for you to believe the argument? What are some details that could help him or her?
Yes, the writer does include specific details from Beah’s memoir as well as outside sources to support his/her supporting statements. (Paragraph #1 Sentence #3) and (Paragraph #4 Sentence #8) The evidence was sufficient enough for me to believe the writer’s argument on destiny. Some details that could help make a stronger argument is to describe at what point Beah realize he could control his own destiny.
Is the paper organized in a way that makes it easy to read and easy to follow? If not, what can s/he do to improve the organization? If yes, how is it organized?
Yes, the paper is very organized. The writer present a thesis in the introduction and each paragraph starts with a topic sentence. Each topic sentence is followed by supporting details. Finally, the writer ends with a very good conclusion. (See paper outline)
Does the conclusion wrap up the paper? Make some alternative suggestions for how to conclude.
The conclusion does wrap up the paper nicely. However, the only alternative I would make would be to place more emphasis on destiny. (Conclusion is in Paragraph 5)
Mention at least one thing you really like about this paper.
I like that the paper includes outside sources from ABC News and The New York Times. The use of such interviews shows that the writer was very interested in Beah’s story.
Beah, Ishmael. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007. Print.
25 June 2015
Sometimes destiny is out of our control
While some people believe each and every person can shape their destiny, there are instances when the path a person's destiny take is beyond their control. The idea that “You make your own destiny” is only partly true because there are times when a person makes a decision that affects others rather than themselves. In “A Long Way Gone,” Ishmael Beah writes about his life before, during, and after becoming a child soldier in Sierra Leone’s civil war. In an article written in The New York Times, Beach wrote “I still do not fully understand how I could have possibly survived the civil war in my country, Sierra Leone.” (Beah) In a way, Ishmael did not shape his entire destiny because certain circumstances such as the war forced him to make choices he would never otherwise make under different conditions.
While our personal responsibility when it comes to morals issues is to choose the positive aspects of a situation, children do not have the same decision-making skills as those found in adults. In his memoir, Beah speaks about how he enjoyed rap music. He described how, at the age of twelve years old, he and his friends decided to enter a song competition. Believing they would be back soon, they had left without informing anyone to perform rap songs in a neighboring village. Their decision, while unknown to them at the time, proved to be a good one because his village was attacked. Some may argue that the boys were destined to be away from the village as it was attacked. However, it is clear that the only reason they were not in the village was because of a decision they made. On the other hand, to survive, the children had to find shelter and steal food. Another example of poor decision making is when the boys returned to their town to get money to buy better food. “We would have been less hungry if we had stayed at the village instead of walking the miles to Mattru Jong and back.” (Beah 45) They risked their lives for money that turned out to be useless. They were so hungry after this ordeal that they stole the food from people who were sleeping. Morally, a person would try their best to find other ways of acquiring food. However, since children with no adult to protect or help them and in the worst circumstances are only thinking about surviving, their moral responsibility is not and should not be similar to that of an adult. Furthermore, their actions directly influenced the destiny of the other victims. The boys were able to eat while the other people were left hungry. Everything that happens to a person, both in childhood and as an adult, influences him or her in some way.
Things that happens to people in childhood as well as in adulthood shapes how they interact with and view the world. The death and violence that many had suffered during Sierra Leone’s civil war led to many people developing different personalities from the ones they previously had before the war. As Beach pointed out in his “A Long Way Gone,” many people, in an attempt to protect their families and themselves, tried to hurt Beah and others. The war influenced how people react to each other. Beah stated “This was one of the consequences of the civil war. People stopped trusting each other, and every stranger became an enemy.” (Beah 52) Beach further stated that people who had known each other for years had developed a different way of speaking to each other. They fear that longtime friends would misinterpret their words or actions. These actions were a direct result of the civil war and not something that one would call destiny. While Beah does blame certain actions on the adults around him, he does take personal responsibility for some of his actions.
Beah admits to killing many people during his time as a child soldier during the Sierra Leone civil war. He feels guilty about everything he has done. However, he does blame the adults for forcing him to either become a soldier or die. This decision shaped his destiny. To kill Beah and other soldiers like him starts to take drugs such as marijuana. Neither Beah nor other child soldiers are to blame for their actions. It is easier to brainwash and pressure children into doing things they would not ordinary do during normal situations. According to a “Nightline” interview with Cynthia McFadden, Beah said, “I think you cease to be a child immediately, because you have to learn how to be an adult.” (McFadden and Yiu) Furthermore, praising him for turning his life around should come easily for many people. When faced with becoming a soldier again after his uncle’s death, Beah had chosen to flee to the United States. Unlike before, when he was forced to become a child soldier, this time it is Beah who is deciding the outcome of his life and not some outside or unknown force.
Ishmael Beah had to decide if he would become a child soldier or die. In his memoir, “A Long Way Gone,” Ishmael Beah lived a fairly decent life before the civil war. Due to some unforeseen forces some may contribute to being destiny, he becomes a child soldier. Unfortunately, during the civil war he had committed many horrible acts while under the influence of drugs. After he had left the war, it took years for him to finally forgive himself for what he did during the war. However, he did take control of his destiny by refusing to become a soldier again.
Beah, Ishmael. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007. Print.
Beah, ISHMAEL. "Ishmael Beah - "A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier" - New York Times." The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. N.p., 14 Jan. 2007. Web. 21 June 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/14/magazine/14soldier.t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=3&ref=magazine>.
McFadden, Cynthia, and Karson Yiu. "Child Soldier's Long Way Home." ABC News. N.p., 5 Aug. 2008. Web. 21 June 2015. <http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/story?id=5518157&page=1>.