How long do you think it will be until Ishmael becomes a boy soldier?
Well I feel like he has gotten so lucky so far because he has had many run ins with the rebels and other soldiers but each time hes has gotten away. I don't know when he will but right now it seems like he won't for awhile.
I think he will be recruited in the next couple chapters we read. The book seems to be leading up to this, and makes it sound like the climax, whichwe're reaching. I'm excited.
It seems he gets closer and closer to the rebels catching him each chapter. It seems the only thing separating him from the rebels is his continuous running and amazing luck. But it is just a matter of time before his luck runs out.
Yeah I think he will be recruited cause I mean on the cover of the book it says Memoirs of a boy soilder
It is definitely coming. He was, at one point, a boy soldier. the rebels keep caching up to him, and he is traveling with a group of strong boys, an optimal target for rebels, which explains why they kept getting captured by villages. They thought he was a rebel solider already.
Do you think that Saidu died? Do you think it was caused from eating the crow? Do you think more people died from disease of violence in the Sierra Leon war?
How do you.... not do you?
I think Saidu did die. I don't think it was from eating the crow i think he just gave up on life because he didn't see anything to keep living for.
I think he did die. I think it was from the crow but I think the boys looked for some other explanation.
Saidu is dead, no question, I think it was the stress and sorrow talking about and thinking about his family.
Saidu did die because he was buried in the village, and it seems very coincidental to them eating the crow, but I don't think that is what killed him. It is also very possible that he died from disease since many people did die from that during the war because of reduced medical aid ant aid that was not very good to begin with.
What exactly happened to Saidu? Did he die of illness?
I think he died from eating the crow. Do you think that him dying from disease was easier or harder for the group to deal with?
They never actually stated what happened, Saidu had said with every time they almost lost their lives a part of him died. That means that Saidu was loosing his will to live and at that moment he felt so hopeless he let go of everything that was holding him to life and accepted death. From a psychological perspective my dad has told me that if you still have the will to live you will stay alive, but if you loose that there is nothing keeping you tied to life and that is what i think happened to Saidu.
He did say he was slowly dying each time their group got captured. Maybe he was slowly dying and he just got to the point were he just couldn't live anymore. I think he just let go of life because he would rather die than be in this war.
I am pretty sure that Saudi just died because of lack of food and water; as well as, sleep. It said earlier in the chapter that Saudi thought that he was fading away, and I think that he just gave up on living.
Well i don't think it would be harder or easier for any way he died they still lost a friend even if he did not get killed by the rebels
I'm not sure that Saidu actually ate the crow. The text is ambiguous.
If you were in Ishmaels shoes when he was going into the village, being so close to his family, and not be able to see them, what would you do and why?
I would try my hardest to reunite with them. I can't imagine being so close to them and not being able to see them. Just to see them and have the relief that they're alive would give me the courage to fight for my life.
Honestly what other choice would you have but to suck it up and keep going. It sounds horrible but I don't think they really had any other choice but to deal with it and hope they would see them later.
I would just try to get to family no matter what the cost. Just to see there face. If the rebels did come though i think my family would want me to move on and live even if they were being hurt
I thought that in chapter 6, Ishmael and Junior could have been great kids, but the town that they visited did not care they were just looking out for their family instead of thinking about the new kids. They did not take the time to get to know the boys, because if they were rebels then they would have been killed before they got to know them.
If i were that close to seeing my family one last time, I would be insane with anger and do everything possible to get back at the rebels who killed them. Even if I was with my friends, I think I would have lashed out at them blaming them and everyone I came in contact with for what happened. So I can see where Ishmael is coming from when he hits Gasemu.
What general life lessons were his parents able to teach him that sustained him during his brutal passage from boyhood, and that he carries with him to this day?
I thought it was really interesting how the unnamed man who let Ismael and the boys stay in his fishing hut was willing to do what he did when everyone else turned them away. When there are times of trouble, a lot of people will only look after themselves but this man took the chance on them.
Some people have trust. Even if Ishmael and his friends had been rebels, I think he was too close to death anyway to really mind. I wonder how the unnamed man felt when the village left him behind? I'm sure he knew it was coming.
Me too and I wonder if I was in that mans situation if I'd be brave enough to help people in need.
With the loss of his family, will Ishmael feel that he no longer has his drive to survive and keep away from the Rebel Army? Does he feel he has nothing worth living for anymore?
I think that still having a group with him keeps the hope in him that there is a life after this war, and he wants to live for his friends even though he has no family left.
I think that this will give him the strength to keep fighting for his life. I can't imagine knowing my whole family is dead and thinking "Why am I still alive?" I would feel so guilty. But I would try my hardest to survive and to take down the rebels for my family, because he knows that his family is in a better place.
I don't think he will give up just yet, I think he will set out to avenge the loss of his family and do everything he can to harm the rebels who killed them. I don't think Ishmael will travel with his friends anymore, If i were in his position anyone and everyone would be a threat in my mind, so I think Ishmael will go off on his own and that is how the rebels will catch him and recruit him.
In the story Ismael was angry so he may want to live to seek revenge for his family. He also may just give up if the angry dies out and he doesn't know what he is living for.
Ishmael doesn't truly know if they are dead or not right now. I think maybe he will keep going because he spent the first part of his journey wondering if they were alive but he believed they were so he kept going. I assume that he would continue trying to run from the rebels and also keep trying to find his family until he knows for a fact that they are dead. But why should he give up if he has no solid proof they are dead?
I think that to an extent Ishmael feels like he has nothing to live for. During these chapters he was fighting to see his family and he mentioned that he missed the stories of his grandmother and he mentioned that he even missed his father who had appeared like a bad father. But I think that since he believes that he doesn't have his family anymore he wants someone to take him in so when the Rebel Army finds him he won't fight back.
I feel that, even though his hope is dwindling, he still has just enough to keep going. He does not know for certain that his family is dead just yet. Since he was so close to reuniting with them,that will motivate him to keep looking for them, until either he finds them or their deaths are confirmed.
If I were in Ishmael's shoes, and if I was so close to my family and they died, I would definitely react in a negative way. I would want someone to blame- like the way Ishmael blamed Gasemu and I would convince myself that I would have rather died with my family than go one more day without them.
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There must be many people in Ishmael's situation. How come he doesn't run into a lot of refugees like him? He and his friends only seem to find settled villages.
I think that he and his friends try to listen for news (if they can) about the towns that have or have not been captured, which is why the towns are still full with people and running normally.
I think the reason Ishmael rarely runs into others like him because in a time of war like this, nobody trusts anyone and all of the other refugees would be trying to stay away from him on the slim chance that Ishmael was one of the rebels. In the part where he joins the family for a swim, the families reaction really illustrates how little trust anyone has in each other.
If your family was killed by the rebels how long would it take for you to just give up on your own life and either join the rebels or die?
I would keep going until the last possible second before defeat. If my family was killed by rebels I would try and stay alive for them and maybe try to "avenge" there deaths in any way possible no matter how big or small.
In knowing I may see my parents again I would continue living and continue to evade the capture of the rebals.
It would be the worst thing in the world if my family died but I would never give up for them. I would want closure and dedicate my whole life to fighting back and finally have the satisfaction that I did do something for my family and all the others whose lives were taken.
I would look for them and never stop. I would do anything to get them back. If it were between death and the people who murdered my family, I would rather die.
Some villages were nice and some were not nice because some of the villages just thought they were rebel spies or soldiers, but some recognized they were just boys running from a war.
Did Beah's isolation make him safer or put him danger, physically or mentally?
Great question. I think that physically he was safer, but he kept longing for human interaction. So, that messed with him mentally. Hmmm. So I guess the question is, is it better to stay safe and alone, or be with people and be vulnerable?
I think that isolation made him physically safer, but it also make him mentally vulnerable to insanity or depression.
Isolation from his family? If so than I think isolation puts him in danger, not safety, because without his family, he has nothing to keep him going, no hope. There is nothing to stop him from ending his life and therefor ending his pain. Without his family, Ishmael has a better chance of ending his life to reunite with his family in the afterlife. This is dangerous to his physical health.
I think it put him in more danger both mentally and physically. If he is alone in the wild, it would be harder for him to find food on his own, and there is a better chance for other animals in the forest to attack him. Mentally, when he is alone there is nothing to do but think about how bad of a situation he is in and how much easier it would be to just let go of life. With out anyone to talk to about it, those feelings will keep building up inside him and drive him crazy. At least with the group, everybody is in the same situation and that lessens the build up of the negative emotions.
It was both better and worse for him to become isolated. It was better for him because he was not such a target for rebels and suspicious villagers. It made it easier to evade the rebels, and easier to move around. It is easier for him to survive, in a sense, and to keep searching for his family. It is worse for him to become isolated because he has to fend for himself, making it harder to find necessities like food and water, he is all alone and has no company to talk to and who can help him along and give him support. Since there are more of them, it can be easier to fend off attacks by rebels, but they are a bigger target.
Would you do if the rebels killed your parents and you had the chance to kill them?
I honestly can't imagine being in that situation. The obvious thing to do would be to kill and get revenge, but some might take the high road and leave them alone. Also, after seeing so much death you might want to stop creating more death.
That's a hard decision. On one hand they're your parents and part of you would want to redeem there death. But on the other hand revenge never ends up working out well (look at Othello), and if you killed them would you be any better than the rebels who killed your parents?
I agree with Kyle. As much hate I would have for the rebels, I would still never become one of them and kill.
If the rebels killed my parents and I had a chance to kill them, I would. I would kill them all in rage, and when the rage died down, I would realize what I had just done and stopped. I would let the rage out with the bullets, and then would be unable to continue when I thought that my parents deaths were avenged.
Does anyone think that because Ishmael's family died, Ishmael doesn't believe in his dad's theory,"If there is nothing good left in a person... he will die."
I think this could have altered Ishmael's thoughts as he has seen the horrors the Rebel Army has committed against innocent people such as mauling and maiming. He now believes his entire family is gone, so I could see how anger could consume him to the point where he doesn't believe in good anymore.
I think that he is having doubts because he is seeing all these horrendous atrocities around him which are disrupting his original feelings of there being good in everyone.
I think that Ishmael doesn't completely believe that someone would die because there is no more good because he saw the innocence in the boy soldiers and they are twisted by the rebel beliefs. As a result of the influence of the rebels and the outcome of the boy soldiers they never die so he might have thought that his father was wrong and that the world was so twisted because people did wrong and immoral things but they were never punished.
The group of boys Ishmael travels with may help to keep him sane because previously he had mentioned how parts of him died with each tragedy and each loss. Alone, Beah's thoughts may have consumed him to the point where all he could think about is the loss of his home and family; the boys give minor distractions and company.
Ismael is safer in a group because strength is in numbers and when he was alone he yearned for human contact and wished for some company. People would also provide some sanity and reality in his situation. The cons of being in a group include being easier to spot as well as looking like a rebel squad from a distance and drawing unfriendly feeling from others.
He didn't always yearn for human contact. When he was with his first group of friends he could not stand staying and hiding like they were and he said he "needed to get out of here." So maybe he just needed time to himself to figure out what he was going to do during this war.
In the beginning Ishmael did yearn for human contact, but when you are away from human contact for so long it becomes harder and harder to be with people and that is what Ishmael was feeling when he found his way into that group of boys.
Do you think it was easier for the boys to deal with Saidu's death because he died from disease and not violence?
I think either way another friend still died, and with the war going on the boys may blame that anyways with the possibility of disease a minor detail. They had gotten to know Saidu, and he was a friend, so either way the boys must have been destroyed.
I believe it doesn't matter to them how he died, he was their friend. In the realization he will never see him again is what crushes Ishmeal and his other friends. But Ishmeal and his friends would feel the same if Saidu died of unnatural causes too.
I think that even though it will still be hard to see his friend die, he has already seen so much death that it may come as less of a shock. It was surprising still, but since he has been running from the rebels he hs seen a lot of death, blood and hate.
Do you think it was harder for Saidu to die this way because it was unexpected?
In being Ishmeal, after seeing all of the people dying around you would you feel guilty for still being alive? explain
I don't think I would feel guilty, but I would feel very fortunate to be alive and I would take a lot of precautions.
With the belief that his entire family is gone, I would feel extremely guilty for still being alive. I would continue to question why I was spared and left alone on earth when my entire family is murdered.
I think that living may make him think about life and the good that may be left in life. He is probably doubting his will to live.
Anyone would feel guilty that someone else is dead while they still have the chance to be alive, and that they could do nothing to stop the deaths without be killed themselves, but ultimately, people want to live. Ishmael is so young that he probably is going to want to live more of his life, and maybe even avenge the deaths of those he knows and those he don't.
If I was Ishmael I think I would feel guilt, but only to a certain extent. I would know that I was lucky to be alive. But also there would always be a lingering thought of 'what if I am next?' Ishmael at this point is beyond scared but all the guilt he might have felt is starting to diminish. Now it is all about survival.
I would not feel guilty necessarily but lucky. In these situations its every man for himself. As much as he has seen I think now he is just worried about staying alive and in hiding. Because he knows that if he is captured he wont die, he will become a soldier and there is nothing worst then that.
I wonder how Ishmael felt during the month that he spent in the forest before he met his friends from school. He spent time looking for food, but obviously not 24 hours. What did he do with himself during all that time?
He probably spent a lot of time thinking. He probably thought about his family and maybe how he was sad that he didn't get to say goodbye to them. He might think about what he will do after the war or how he is going to keep himself away from the rebels and the war. He most likely thought about his future and what would happen and he would reminisce on the past and wish he could go back to that.
In chapter 6 it reveals a breakdown in trust among the villagers that had been a strong bond before the war. Ishmael, Junior, and their friends agree to stay together, but they realize that their grouping as six young men frightens the villagers that they encounter. At the time do you think they thought they would be able to stick together throughout the rest of the war? Or was it just false hope from the boys?
I think it is great for the boys to have hope but I think it will all be vain because no matter how you look at it there is no way six boys will all make it out together while in this war the chance is very small
In the beginning of chapter 7 Ishmael is alone in the forest with no signs of life would this drive you to go insane?
Though I'm an introvert, being in total isolation would drive me, and probably anyone, insane. Humans have a natural need for social interaction and deprived of that it starts to affect them. In Cast Away, for example, the man makes himself a companion out of a volleyball because he gets so lonely, and even with his imaginary friend you can still see the isolation take it's toll. This happened with Ishmeal; you can tell he's different after his time in the forest.
The fact that he figured out what he could eat, what he could wash your body with, what to do if you got poison in your mouth, and how to sleep amazes me. I would not be able to figure anything out so I think I would go insane. Especially if the silence was so loud and when you're alone, you start to think about everything thats happened.
For me, I would start to get jumpy and nervous. Eventually I know that it would get to a point where I just not know what to do. But if I was Ishmael I would definitely take into account that the alone feeling, at some point, will be the least of my problems. With knowing that I could find any strength to keep going. Just to get past that scary part.
What are the affects of no one trusting each other in the towns that have not been attacked yet?
I think it means that the villages are forgetting what some of their values are and the community suffers from it. They interrogate innocent boys and punish them harshly. They surely did not do this before the war.
I think that the reason Ishmael longed to see his family even though it meant he would die is because he has seen things that will scar him for life and there was a great possibility that he would be killed eventually anyway. He has accepted death so many times and like Saidu said "...each time I accept death, part of me dies" p. 70.
I think Ishmeal's photographic memory really help him deal with what had happened to him during this time as an adult. Writing this book must have taken a lot of courage and his memory helped him write it all down and get it out of his head. However, during the war, I don't think his photographic memory helped. The memories of his family and friends made him more sad and angrier.
Yeah I agree with that but I kind of find the irony in that how the Photographic memory was useful in his life before the war but it brings nightmares back of everything that he has seen during the war
I agree. I think that later in his life he relies on his vivid memories to provide closure for some of the things that happened. I think if he didn't remember some of the faces that helped him survive he wouldn't be able to go on. You can feel this when he describes the old man that gave them directions to the ocean and the man that let them stay in his hut. He constantly asks for their names and explains their features in vivid descriptions. He needed something to remember them by.
Do you blame the villagers for being extremely weary of the boys when they attempt to enter the village and ask for attempt which is causing distrust among people?
I don't blame them at all. They have a right to be distrusting of anyone during the time of the chaos.
No I don't because honestly I would be the same way although it is kind of prejudice i would be scared of all little boys there age
Yes, I do blame the villagers. When the boys insist that they are innocent and they don't have weapons on them, it should be pretty obvious that they are not rebels.
There is no reason to blame the villagers for being superstitious. The rebels are taking young boys like Ishmael and forcing them to fight, so in the villagers mind anyone and everyone could be a threat.
No, if I was in a war situation I don't think I'd really trust people. You'd be looking out for yourself and the people you love and every stranger would seem like a threat.
They should know after seeing the boys that they mean no harm, but I do not blame them and it is true that boys around their age are often spies or soldiers in the rebel army.
I think they are right to be suspicious because they really have no idea who is a rebel and who isn't
When someone you know dies, do you feel sad immediately, or does it hit you later?
Like the circle group was saying, you just shut down if something traumatic happens, like someone you know dying. SO the sadness hits later, after your mind can deal with it.
I think, initially, it is shock. Even if it is expected. But once the intially news settles in, the sadness comes. :(
Well I think that when you know that someone dies your whole body is making up excuses for how they are still alive. But later when you don't see them your brain takes it in and you realize what had happened
I think it depends on how close you were to them. With a person you have only met briefly, I feel the death would hit you immediately, and you would just realize that they are gone. With a member of your family or someone you are extremely close to, you go into a state of shock especially because you can not even imagine life without them; it begins to hit you when you open up your mind to accept it.
Usually when something bad happens to me I keep trying to set it aside until I am alone so no one can see what is going on, but whenever I've heard about someone I know dying, it hits me immediately. I think it would be different in Ishmael's situation though because people are dying all around them and they need to push away the emotions from them in order to survive.
How much trust do you think is actually in Ishmeal's group of friends? Do you think that they actually trust each other with their lives or do you think they're is a lot of mistrust in the group?
It's probably hard to trust anyone if you've been through the stuff these boys have....
I think that there is trust to a certain level. In a life or death situation , however, I think every boy would have the standpoint of "every man for himself". With everyday activities though, I think the trust would resurface. You need a group to lean on for help and you need a group that you can trust in a war.
Yes, I think the boys do trust each other. This is because they were able to find enough food and other resources. But when there isn't food (like when the dog took the food overnight) they stop trusting each other and start competing with each other.
I think they trust each other but they are so weary about everything that they may not be super friendly. They have to look out for themselves and I think for SOME of them, they would not care if they saw another in the group fall to their death as long as they're still alive.
Do you think anger and desperation for food and water and possibly family were the driving factors for some of the decisions that the boys made? Especially Ishmael? How?
You have to be numb sometimes when something tragic has happened or is happening around you. If you think too much about, you get distracted, and in the case of Ishmael and his friends, they can't afford to be distracted, or they themselves will be killed. They probably told themselves that if they make it to the end of the war they can focus on trying to heal and recover.
Would you feel guilty just like Ishmael after Gasemu's death? Would you feel emotionally attached to a man that you had only known briefly?
In the context of where he is and his mind set, I would feel guilt. Guilt for Gasemu's death, maybe guilt for me still being alive. I think in Ishmael's case he is just trying something to grasp onto. We have made some points about how Ishmael wants a father figure and maybe this man was is way of getting that, even if it was only for a brief moment.
Yes I would feel guilty at my self for being angery at Gasemu. In the book it told that Gasemu was kind of an outcast so if I were Ishmael I wouldn't be very emotionally attached to him. On the contrary, Gasemu did technically save my (Ishmael's) life so I would feel like I owe him a debt that I cannot pay.
Let's talk about the old man in the village. He was ultimately abandoned. What was your reaction to that?
I felt sad for the old man. He was probably close to the people in his village and trusted them. The villagers grew up with him, and they just left him. That shows how much war can change us.
I think he realized that there was no way for him to run from the rebels or to resist them, so he just decided to help the people he could before his time ran out. I think he was a very courageous man for putting others before himself.
I feel that the boys were so focused on their desire to reach their families and safety that the old man became only a minor detail in their path even though he willingly offered them food and aid. I was shocked yet understanding when reading this because I realize the boy's hunger to find their brothers, sisters, moms, and dads must have been overwhelming. It was hard to think that the old man's entire village just left him behind though helpless, and the boys left him again even though they had personally seen what he would be facing.
Originally I was shocked that in a culture like theirs where you need to have the utmost respect for your elders that the boys would abandon him. Then I thought about the situation and what was probably going through the boys minds. All they cared about at that moment was survival, and the old man would just slow them down, be another mouth to feed, and just lessen their chances to survive overall. Even though it seems wrong to just abandon him, the need to survive won out over everything else so they were forced to abandon him.
You would think that people would want to help someone who is helpless or unable to away, but people will focus on themselves when chaos erupts because it's their first instinct. I feel horrible that he was basically left alone to die and that it took the boys stumbling upon him for him to get any type of help.
It is incredible that the no one in the old man's village had the morals our thought to take the old man with them. To the people in the towns defense though they were probably focused on their family and they probably did not think about those left behind.
It gave me hope that not everyone went insane because he was so happy and helpful and understanding. Even though he knew he was dying and he had to watch the place he grew up in get destroyed. My heart went out to him and I hope the boys realized how grateful they were to meet him. I hope it gave them hope and helped them realize that there are still people out there who had a heart. Humanity still exists even in the darkest times.
The old man might have been left alone because people have a nature of caring for themselves over others and when the war actually came into people's view that it can be real and they need to be safe. The began helping themselves over helping others like when Ishmael's village was raided everyone ran for themselves then looked for people. This most likely happened in this village as well.
When I read that he was abandoned and no one considered to help him I was mad and sad because they left their elders to die and in a sense they left part of their culture behind. I also thought that he was very humble trying to increase the chances of the survival of the younger more healthier citizens. I also felt like the old man knew the chances that he would most likely get captured by the rebels and accepted that he would die eventually.
Right off the bat I was shocked and immensely sad for the man. But then I remembered that he was only one of thousands who were in the same situation. I tried to think as if I was someone in this situation and the feelings I had before really diminished because I am thinking "Hey that wasn't me" I think the emotions and sympathy these people felt started becoming more about themselves and not anyone else.
In the war zone it's every person for themselves and taking the old man with them would only slow them down.
I feel sad that the old man in the village was abandoned, but I really can't blame the other villagers. They are fighting for their own lived. Also, he may actually be lucky. Apparently he hasn't been attacked.
When the book talked about the old man, my reaction was bitter. My bitterness came from a disgust of the villagers, who left a defenseless old man for dead. I understand, however, that if the villagers had taken the man, he would have been a burden and a liability. That doesn't make it ok in my mind though. What made it worse, was that he was starving quietly. When he asked the boys for yams, he was obviously hungry. I was angry because he was so old, that he couldn't move to feed himself and get the daily necessities. Overall it made me furious because the man was so sweet and trusting.
If you were Ishmael would you want to avenge the death of your parents and siblings? Would you pick up a weapon and try to kill the rebels? Or would you accept your parents fate and be glad you can still live?
In Ishmael's situation, is there any motive to be a good person?
I would've wished that I had died with them and want to avenge their death even if it meant picking up a weapon.
I think my instant reaction would be to strike back. Even while just reading the book I became so angry that I wanted the rebels to suffer like Ishmael had. I can't even imagine what I would do if that was my own family. After my anger calmed down I think that I would rationalize that I would have no chance against the rebels. But it is hard to say since I have never experienced anything close to this.
@sanat I think that everything that he has been through almost justifies him reacting in a violent way.
When Saidu told his friends a little bit of him died every time they were captured by villagers do you think that he had nothing left of him the night he died?
That might be why he died. The crow made him sick, but he just didn't have the will to fight the sickness.
I don't think it's the depression. One doesn't just die from that. It could have been alot of things.
This is a very good point you must understand that a person can die of fear when adrenaline poisons the body. Probably when he fainted the first time was a sign of his uncontrollable fear after the many events he experienced.
If you were in Ishmaels position would you be able to find moments of happiness or would you just be in dispair
In this situation I don't any happiness would still be in my life, the only thing keeping me going would be the desire to get my revenge on the rebels who killed my family. After that I don't know what else I would have to live for.
If I were in Ishmael's situation, I would take active steps to try to get to safety. I would try to get my bearings and emigrate to another country.
I think i would be so numb and not feel anything. In the video we saw of him talking to Heritage, he had the biggest smile on his face. He gave me hope that bad things happen to good people but you have to be strong enough to move on.
Do you think that Ishmael was a happier or unhappier person after the war? Did the things he saw make the world seem like a darker place or did it make the good things seem better?
Both. In the video we saw with Mr. Moritz , we could see the smile on his face was genuine, but in the book he talks about how he still has nightmares about his life as a boy soldier.
I am amazed by how smiling and happy Ishmael seemed in the video that he sent to Heritage High School. He is very resilient.
Well he could be both at times but I think most of the time he is unhappier because after everything he has seen it would just haunt you everyday of your life
His view on the world is totally changed forever because of the war, but it is his choice to believe what he saw and to believe that everyone is like the rebels. Obviously he has chosen the path of not believing that everyone is like that rebels.
Do you think that Ishmael is closer to his old friends (his brother and his friends from school) or his new friends (whom he went through more with)?
I would imagine he has fond memories of his old friends that faded in with the background of the peaceful times. His new memories of his recent friends are tarnished by the war, but I think he is closer to them because they have more in common.
i think they are both equal because he loves his old friends a ton, but he has made great relationships with the boys around him.
I think even though he went through more with his new friends, Ishmael is closer to his old ones because he had been friends with them before the war started. During the war, Ishmael has to let his emotions go numb so it is a lot harder to get close to his new friends during the wartime.
Is there any chance that some of the rebels who were forcibly recruited will ever revolt or leave the army?
That depends. What do you think happens to boys who run away from the army? They might be so afraid of punishment or being in a worse situation then they are that they are perfectly happy staying under the shadow of the beast, where they can be mostly safe.
I think one will try and he will be killed and no one else will try because all the boys are so fearful that they will be killed. They are so fearful that they must be loyal to the rebel leader.
Yeah there probably is because I mean some people would rather die then work for the rebels.
No, I think any type of rebellion would be put down pretty fast. The people were really afraid and most of them wanted to belong in a group. I think a certain amount of Stalkholme syndrome must go on in the RUF. In order to survive you may start agreeing and almost passionately believing in what they stand for (or at least thinking you do). I don't think most of the rebels would truly ever want to leave because they'd begin to believe what they stand for and feel like they belong somewhere.
I think everyone who was forcibly recruited would love to try and revolt or leave the army but there will always be the little voices in their heads pulling them back. The rebels who took them are ruthless and would most likely kill them if they ever tried anything. And at this point, most of the recruits are starting to loose any idea that what they are doing is wrong. It is starting to get drilled into their minds that they are doing the right thing. I think for a good portion of them, trying to revolt is the last thing on their minds
What did Ishmael’s parents teach him about being a man? How did he define manhood once he began his long walk west?
Do you think that all morals have left the villagers attempting to flee the Rebels or do you think that they are just too desperate to escape to even care about others so they just ignore their sense of right and wrong?
I don't think the rebels had any time to think about morals. When the rebels came, the imminent danger triggered their flight response, and to save themselves they left everything and everyone else behind.
The latter makes more sense. A persons morality can never really disappear. Everyone has some good. I'm sure the villagers were just scared for themselves and their families and just needed to survive. In order to do that, they had to put aside their morality.
I agree with Erik their desperation to survive really defined their actions. The only thought going through there minds would be RUN, not where are my friends and family? That's why Ishmael got separated from his family.
I think there was no time to think about whether leaving someone was right or wrong. The people are so worried about getting themselves, and their families, out of harms way, that they don't care if there is someone begging for help, or if there is an old man asking to be carried away. After they escaped, their actions most likely resurfaced and they reflected on what they had done morally. That is the only time when they see what they have done, during the raid, they are only caring about their well being, not their neighbors.
How do you think the fisherman in the hut affected the boys' journey? Do you think things would have been different for them if they would not have stopped there and gotten the help for their feet and the food they received?
I think the fisherman gave the boys hope that there still is good in their world that not everyone is bad. Without stopping at the fisherman's help, the boys would probably have never found such acceptance and only continued to become angrier at the world because everyone they encountered appeared to be against them.
Well I think it definitely affected their journey. Everything that has happened in this book added a twist to the story. Their are so many possible outcomes in this book, it is remarkable how he survived.
I think more than anything meeting the fisherman and getting help from them showed the boys that there really were people out there who still cared about young boys lost in the wild and wouldn't just shun them and leave them to their suffering. The fishermen who helped them gave them hope that there are more people out there like them and that gave the boys a motive to keep going and not just give up.
Without the fisherman they might have not made the journey because they didn't have anything and they were malnourished and in pain with their feet they might have been able to live in such bad conditions but the fisherman was able to nourish them and make the journey able to complete.
Their situation definitely would have been different because they would have been hungry and thirsty. They also would not have gotten the sleep that they got while they were staying with the fishermen. Also the children's emotions were definitely changed because meeting someone nice and inviting after being kicked out of the previous town must have given the boys some serious hope.
Earlier in the book, Ismael says that having the rebel's brand on your body kept you in the army because if anyone saw it they would kill you on the spot. If you were recruited into the army, would you stay in the army and be safe, or try to escape and go home with the chance that you are killed as soon as they see your brand?
I would probably try to escape. But I would try to cover the brand with something, and I would put my hands up immediately any time I saw another person. I definitely wouldn't stay in the rebel army. In a difficult situation, I feel much more secure if I am by myself and have control over how to proceed.
Staying in the army would be risking your life everyday so I would try to escape and cover up the branding maybe even ruin it by scaring myself even more.
When Ishmael saw they rebels with the gasoline and the matches laughing and cheering about burning down villages would a part of Ishmael want to attack them since they took away his family from him?
Yes! There is a moment where he does too. He walked into the house his family was staying at, and he began punching the burning walls uncontrollably. He was mad at the rebels for burning the village and was taking out his anger through physical damage.
Im sure even seeing them smile would make him angry but if he was smart he would know not to attack the rebels if he wanted to live. But I think he would have so many emotions going on he probably cant even think straight.
It strikes distrust in people because it causes them to harm one another and question everyone that they meet.
On page 70 Saidu said something that really stuck with me about death. Do you think that that is accurate or do you think he is just slowly going insane because of the war?
Define insane. Is he just getting a better focus on life, a better philosophy? Something the other boys can't see because they're trying so hard to survive.
I am not sure it's a not better philosophy more than the truth. I am just wondering if Ishmael and all the others agree with what he said since none of them said anything back to him?
Do you think that there is any way we can really wrap our minds around the atrocities that Ishmael experienced? We are so far removed for anything like this war. Can we ever truly understand?
I think we tell ourselves that we understand these atrocities, and we really believe that we do understand what has happened to these boys, but I don't think we can ever really grasp what happened no matter how many times we tell ourselves that we do.
I don't think we can really understand the things that happened to Ishmael unless we were in that situation. We can think about it and wonder, but we'll never understand how it feels to feel someone else's blood on your hands, or how it feels to be so hungry you would attack people for food. We just can't grasp the concept of pain and war in a country where that is only heard of in stories.
I do not think that people that have never had a disaster in your life could measure up to something so terrible. Most people only have a few terrible occasions in their life but Ishmael has seen atrocity after atrocity which has scarred his life forever.
This war is very different from any war the U.S. has ever had. Even the Civil War, which was very destructive, was fought mostly on battlefields by soldiers in uniforms. In Sierra Leone, there is no such thing as the "home front". There is no place to retreat to, and if you are in the army, there is no place to defect to.
We may not be able to understand the atrocities of the war but sadly, I think some of us may be able to relate to the emotional aspect of it. Of being lonely, and losing people you love and not knowing what to do with yourself after you have lost them.
We obviously can't relate to anything like this but we feel for him. We want so badly to act like we can relate and try and make him feel better but we are so shocked about this that all we feel is sympathy and compassion.
I don't think, or hope, we will experience anything on the same level as Ishmael. Even if we do experience a tragedy of this scale we do not have remotely the same background as Ishmael has. He grew up in poverty and death. Because of this I don't think that we can truly understand the emotions that Ishmael is feeling. I have ideas of what I would do if I was in Ishmael's place, but I honestly do not know how I would react.
How does trust affect Sierra Leone citizens and to what extent does war strike distrust in people?
In this war no one trust each other any more. This is really harmful to the country because everybody refuses to help others and to receive help from others on the slim chance that they could be one of the rebels. This mentality is tearing their society apart.
Do you think that they're is any thing that is truly and can forever remain innocent?
In Othello, Desdemona is truly innocent and pure through her whole life.
I think the only thing that can truly and indefinitely remain innocent is the idea of innocence itself.
No. It is like kids, when you are little you are innocent and just want to have fun and play but as you grow older you start to make choices and no one always make the right ones. Innocence is something that should be lost over time but only to certain extents.
I dont really get what you're asking. Can you explain more?
I think that the reason Saidu died is because all of the pieces inside him have died and he just gave up the will to live.
I think the boys have responded normally and extremely reasonable to the situation they continuously encounter such as the sight of death, destruction, and betrayal. Such as the boys in Lord of the Flies, the boys in A Long Way Gone have stepped up to the situation and focus on what is most important to them. Rescue and control were the main themes in the first book while finding their families and desperation drove the characters in A Long Way Gone. However, no boy will not come out of the war unaffected. It seems that most people faced with a horrendous situation put on a face of courage and push to deal through even though inside they are slowly feeling the affects of the nightmare they are living through.
Do you think this book changes your view on your supposed "atrocities" in your life comparatively to Ishmael's troubles that he has had?