My initial impression of the first 5 chapters is sad. It is horrifying how the rebels think they are fighting for a cause that is for the people, but then kill innocent people and hurt them as power of intimidation so that they will work for them.
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There was not much of a lead in for the book, besides the disadvantage of not having very much background knowledge it made me want to keep reading.(1st question~What was your impression of the first few pages?)
I disagree, I thought that the small anecdote of what the war is like really enticed me to want to read the book more. I thought the snippet of his story was the lead in.
What do you all think makes the book so hard to put down? Which of our themes apply? (The themes around the room)
I think he did a very good job as an author to make the story intense and exciting to keep the reader going
It just has that thing where you want to find out what happens next.
I think that what makes the book so hard to put down is the Power of Intimidation. A lot of the gore in the book was used by the rebels to intimidate civilians to do what they wanted and to gain more soldiers who couldn't fight back. For example, how Mr. Moritz told us about the amputee camps for men whose hands had been cut off just so they would not be able to hold a gun.
Part of it is definitely the style of writing. He makes it sound... well, unbelievable. When you go into the book thinking about the fact that it's nonfiction, it makes the entire thing more interesting. I personally find it hard to comprehend that everything he went through was real, and that fascinates me and makes me want to keep reading.
I think the thought of what if this had happened to me and how would my life be different is what makes it so hard to put this book down. I mean think about it, if you were caught in a war and were living in it how would you be changed? Anger, power of words, jealousy, and revenge all apply to the book.
The gore and intensity adds the seriousness and the emotional heavyness of the story
I agree I think that the gore is a quiddity to the story.
My initial impression of the book is that it is a very heavy book. It got to explaining the war very quickly.
He is so used to all the blood and gore he has seen so he talks about it like it was nothing. He was scared and that caused his lack of emotion in the story.
The details that he includes in the book are just telling it like it was. That's really what it was like at the time.
I thought the book in the first few chapters were bloody and shocking and really eye-opening. It has already given me a whole new perspective and it's just been the first few chapters.
As everyone else says, the first five chapters of the book are indeed sad. I also agree with the comment that it starts very fast, but that doesn't necessarily bother me because it's better than starting with pages and pages and pages of background. He says what he needs to say and it gets the point across.I do kind of wonder how he remembers everything so vividly. It does make sense that horrific images like these would be burned into his mind, but I still wonder. How old was he when he wrote this book compared to when he lived it? (I REALLY hope that wasn't already answered.)
I think this was such a profound event in his most events he will never forget
I think the author says everything matter of fact because he was desensitized to violence at such an early age.
Agreed. Being a child soldier and experiencing so many horrors has to become normal (to an extent) at some point.
I think the reason why there wasn't so much background to the war at the beginning of the book because he didn't have background on the war himself and being a child he didn't know what was going on probably until it happened.
I also think that as the book progresses and as his age progresses in the book the more background information we will receive from the book.
The reason why he states the story in the way he does just to show what happened without relieving any of the horrors he experienced. During the book he had to do what must have been done to survive which is really different to our life style.
What is the purpose of the rebel group? What do they want? Also what are they to gain by taking over villages and killing civilians?
I believe that the rebel group is there to just show they have power. All of it is out of their thirst for power. They seem to be clever but the rebels don't necessarily know what they are fighting for. Their leader must have a reason but I believe that the rebels have just been told to kill any man that moves and possibly they don't even know why they are doing it.
The purpose of the rebel group is to intimidate people so then they will help the group so they won't get hurt themselves. I don't think the rebels want anything really, they're just going along with what every other rebel is doing. They are trying to gain followers because they know people will follow them if they intimidate them.
I think that the gore makes the book more captivating and real. After reading all the graphic scenes for a while I think you get as use to the idea that you can really get, it shows you how he has adapted to the most horrific events in order to stay sane.
I agree it helps the readers realize that it is real.
He has come to terms with what has happened in his life. He had time to let the wounds heal a little bit. He does not have feeling connected to it. If he had wrote the book right after his experience it would have be perceived as a horror story.
The amount of gore in this book make me, personally, uneasy. I believe, though, without the gore and extreme descriptions the book would not be as emotional. The descriptions, in my opinion, have the most impact.
He is explaining all of these horrible events as his everyday life. I think this really opens up our eyes to how other people live.
If I were a kid in the war I would try to take my mind off the war as much as possible, even if it was right in front of my face. Talking about the other stuff like the weather would help him keep his mind off the horror and reality of the war.
Would you be willing to separate from your family if it meant safety? Why or why not?
I think it depends on the situation. If separating from my family would be safer for both them and myself, I think I would separate from them. However, if separating from my family was just as dangerous for them as staying with them was I would stay with my family.
I would only separate with my family at a time of war if I knew that if I left them that would have a better chance for survival.
Family is literally all the boys had. Plus they are young boys!
I believe when the boys go back for their family they were worried that they would never see them again also they really depended on their family.
It was hard for Beah to comprehend what it meant for war to come through his village. Up to this point Beah has only ever heard of war, he has never had to experience it. Beah didn't really know what to do, and the only thing he could think of was to stay and look for his family.
I think that he is talking about the weather and waiting for a possible rebel attack because he would like to emphasize the immense amount of suspense and feeling of dread.
He is so attached to his parents and he can't imagine a world without his family that he is willing to risk his whole life to find them and be with them.
This also shows the culture difference between the U.S and Africa and how relationships and personalities are sometimes different and stronger from country to country. Showing how boys in Africa would go back to a war zone to find their parents, whereas here that may not be as likely.
I think there is a ton of suspense in the book. I'm always wondering what will happen next.
Why WOULDN'T you want to look for your family in the midst of all this violence? This was already mentioned, but I'll restate it: they're the people who can be there for you when everyone else is distrustful and afraid. I know I wouldn't abandon my family if I could help it, because otherwise I would be terrified, alone, confused, and pretty much every other conflicting emotion.
I agree but at one point it might be more dangerous to go back for your family. It might just be more safe to stay put and just hope and trust that they are alive.
The boys go back to look for their families because at this point in the war, there is nothing left for them. Beah wrote about his mother and father with tremendous amounts of love. His family was very important to him. Also, based on when he wrote the book, he was probably very young during this time and would want his mother for comfort.
But remember that their relationship with their father was very rough. Their stepmother turned their father against them.
Ten is not that young, you're a bit past the extremely dependent age, and more towards the moral thought of the importance of your family.
The boys are so young they probably still aren't confident enough to take care of themselves out in the world. They also might still be clinging to hope that their parents are still alive in the village.
The go back to look for their family because family is all that they had. Especially at a young age, I think that everyone would want to go back to look for their family.
Beah uses suspension to really show the true situation of war. There will be times of silence and then out of nowhere there will be gunfire or even a rebel attack.
Ishmael's innocence reminds me a lot of Desdemona's when facing the larger threat like Othello or the rebel group. They both Still try to hold on to their innocence. For example, Ishmael tries to go back to look for his parents and Desdemona tried to hold on to her relationship with Othello
to add on to @Grantt2017 at the beginning of the book, he explains the war as something far away and in a way unreal. So when the war comes to him and effects him and his family personally, its really hard for them to comprehend.
He didn't get to say goodbye to his family. That's most of the reason why he went back.
I agree, but I also think that he had other reasons for risking his life other than just saying goodbye to them.
The fact that he didn't get to say goodbye is true. Also, he and his brother, Junior, had the urge to explore their curiosity. They wanted to go back and just see if their family had made it. It ended up having way to much gore and blood to have gone back. All he wanted to know was if they would still be in his life.
What would you do if you were in the situation that Ishmael is in?
I'd probably get with all of my bros(Just like Ishmael did) but I would load up on food and water and then get as far away from civilization as I can.
The description of the van disturbed me! It was almost like unreal to be reading at the moment. As I read it, I thought of the book as fiction and just a story because I didn't want it to be a true story. Ishmael must have been in shock and didn't understand what had happened at this moment. He is so young and has already been exposed to such terrible things that I can only wish I will never see in my life.
I think he went back to try and hold on to the small hope that his family was still alive
Beah told us of the van to put us in perspective of the beginning of the war. This was one of the first real, scary things Beah has seen of the war and it brings out a new feeling in him. When Beah explains how the man loaded his whole family in the car and tried to drive away, it makes the audience think they would do they same thing.
He saw the man who was trying to drive his family away, and he wished that his dad would have done that for him.
Another question I have for you all is why did Khalilou's family tell the boys (Khalilou's friends!) to stay behind and "look after the house" that, by the way, had no belongings in it while they hid safely in the woods?
Would you say the woman whose life was saved because her baby was shot was lucky?
She's lucky to be alive but I don't know if she would feel lucky because her baby just got shot.
The woman was lucky and unlucky. She is lucky to be alive and especially in a culture where children aren't usually expected to live long, her child's death wasn't extremely significant. On the other hand, she is unlucky because to be alive at the expense of your own child's life sounds like an awful alternative.
I think the Volkswagen scene really helped the reader step into his shoes and realize how scary this war was, because I'm sure he was terrified at the time and didn't realize how horrible the war really was.
It is luckier to die and feel no pain and die instantly than to go through a lot of pain, especially at the age of a young baby.
I think that the women got lucky that she wasn't killed, but at the same time living with the knowledge that her young baby saved her life for the price of the baby's could possibly change he forever. She might have though that the baby would rather live than her, or that they should have died with each other.
In some ways the women was lucky to have her life, but in some ways she is not because she has just lost her baby which is the most precious thing to her. When Ishmael says this he is trying to be positive in the midst of horror.
In that situation I would probably just try to get as far away from everything as possible but only staying connected to my family, and knowing were they are because I don't think it would be worth living with having no one to love.
I don't think that the fact that kids don't have a very high life expectancy in Africa complies for the loss of baby instead of your own life being taken. I think that the short distance that the women was from escaping just made losing her child that much more painful.
Beah says luckily the bullet didn't go through the baby, I personally believe that the women does not believe she is lucky, but more of cursed to live on the earth without the one she loves. There is also the different cultures that is involved so their culture and death could be vastly different than ours.
I think that when Beah said "She was lucky the bullet didn't go through the baby." he's saying it based on his perception of luck. This woman may be in such grief she had wished she died too. A mother and her baby are a hard bond to break so the mother may have wanted to die along with her baby.
I'm not so sure that the woman was so lucky that the bullet didn't kill her. After the baby's death she might not have had anything to live for, and she wouldn't want to live in such a terrible world without it. Maybe it would have been happier for her to die and escape the war forever.
The woman is lucky that she herself is alive, but she is not lucky because her baby died.
Luck depends on the situation and how the women felt about her baby. She was lucky in the sense that she is alive but her child is gone, thats far from luck. But she may not have been attached to her baby because the baby may not have lived very long anyways.
I think the dreams represent the parts of the world he does not want to be real.
I agree, but I also think that these dreams represented the fear he had of stories heard, and he seemed almost less scared when he was actually in the middle of being taken by the rebels then when he had time to think over it that night.
The scene with the man carrying his child telling him that he would be alright, even though the child was already dead really shows how important family is to these people.
Even more than that it shows the hope that hasn't quite been lost yet and that sometimes people just need something to hold on to.
Fellow classmates, I also want to address why in Chapter 2 does the reader skip forward to the future in New York? Why is this significant? How does affect the story?
He uses his dreams that he had after the war to emphasize the horror and reality of the book. His dreams show us how deeply the war affected him.
The author skipped forward to his present time in New York because he is subtly showing that his experiences and memories still affected him years later in a safe place thousands of miles away from the war. He can't forget his past and some things in his new life trigger old memories that still haunt him. It amplifies the horrific effect of the war on Beah's life.
I think that Ishamel Beah's dreams show that he knows more about the war than he lets on. He has the experience of the horror of the war, but it foreshadows his future and allows him to mentally prepare himself for what may happen to him.
Why do you guys think he would tell us about his dreams? why was that essential to include in this book??
I think the dreams are Ishmael's worst fears, what he doesn't want to have happen no matter what.
I believe that is correct. When he thinks about what the worst possible situation is then his reality is A LITTLE bit easier.
His dreams are where he can let loose all of the emotions that he holds back in real life.
I think the woman herself is obviously lucky to be alive and obviously unlucky that her baby died, but she probably kind of expected her baby not to make it seeing as they're in a war zone.
Memories, even though some of them are really hard to remember, they make us stronger people. So its important to hold on to the good and the bad so we become better people.
Beah's struggle to tell the difference between dreams and reality is justified, especially when the subjects of his nightmares are personal experiences. Maybe the dreams are what drove him to write A Long Way Gone, reminding him over and over of the war until he finally decided that he couldn't run from it forever. This book could have been his way of telling the world about the things he may not have always talked about.
I think sometimes you can't forget the bad memories. Especially in Ishmael's case because some of his memories were very significant and probably affected him a lot.
I think our memories define us and teach us new things, both good and bad memories change us. Although, I do agree that we cannot hold on to every aspect of our lives.
All memories are ones to hold onto. Good memories remind you of the happiest times in your life. Bad memories can help you to remember where you came from and to help you learn and grow. But, if I was in his position, I would want to let go of all of those memories.