Do they really see it everyday?
They might not but it is a reality that they have to face everyday.
Even if they don't see it EVERY day, they still are seeing these horrific things more often than any child should.
During the war all the carnage is left out in the open for everyone to see so yes they would see it everyday. The government probably wants the people to see what the rebels are doing and how extreme they are so the government is not going to do anything to prevent the people from seeing it.
Yes, they had no choice but to see it. They had no warning and no plan of action to when and where the rebels would attack next. The government is useless, and the citizens have to fend for themselves. The rebels took the fighting to the front doors of citizens, and they had no way of knowing to get out of the way.
Ishmael has not seen war before this incident actually. He knows that it is out there, but does not really know the reality of it. He finds it hard to believe and never thought that the rebels would actually get to him and his family.
The civil war went on for nearly 10 years and swept the whole country, so it's highly likely that they had seen or heard something related to the war every day.
The horrible things Ishmael was describing he saw was so shocking to me. The things he experienced at such a young age was incredible.
How do you think the company of Ishmael's friends during the rebel attacks affected their actions and their thoughts during the chaos? Did their company keep them sane? Or did it have any effect at all? Why would you say so?
Having people you know and live with can help keep a sense of reality and sanity. Without Junior or his friends Ishmael would likely have gone insane, in my opinion.
I think with his friends he was able to stay alive and stay calm since he wanted to keep his friends safe and they want to keep him safe as well. Without his friends he may have been killed our taken to join the rebel force.
I would say being Ishmael having friends would feel comforting by having someone be there with you and for you keeping each other's sanity. I don't think Ishmeal's actions would be really affected if he didn't have those friends because he is acting in a means of his own survival.
What do you think would happen if Ishmael hadn't gone to the talent show?
I think that the experiences could have been post-poned for a while, but I think that the rebel army might have eventually reached where Ishmael was.
The boys walked 16 miles to another town without telling their parents. I know they didn't know the rebels would come, but why would they go so far without telling anyone?
It seems like that's an ordinary thing. They couldn't just get their Mum to drive them in their minivan. It's so different that it's almost impossible for people like us to understand.
I think that things are much different in their town. To us this seems like a big deal to walk to another town 16 miles away without telling our parents, although in Ishmael's town its probably not. I think in his town they have much more freedom.
I have been to many third world countries and in most of them, children have much more freedom to go where they want and do what they want to do because both parents are usually working most of the day so the kids are on their own. It would be normal for the kids do disappear for a day. The parents would assume they were off with a friend or a relative.
Do you think the war would be different if the rebels were adult soldiers instead of kid soldiers? Why or why not?
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Adults are harder to control. I think that the rebels try to kill a lot of the adults in the town, so their is less retaliation. Also when they take the children, they brainwash them into becoming violent and inhumane. Young children are more easily changed and more controllable. This is probably why they take children into their forces. Then they will grow up in it and become used to it.
Yes the rebel boys turn this whole situation into a violent game completely distracted of the true cause of the rebellion, but there are also adults in the army like the group of twenty year old men in chapter 5 who also treat it like a game to steal nice items they could not afford before the war.
I think that the war would have differed, because the adult soldiers wouldn't have been as corrupted as the children were; so they may have tried to rebel or escape. They (the adults) may not have been as terrified as the younger children were.
Yes, I think the war would be very, very different with adult soldiers instead of child soldiers. The war would be different because the adults would be a lot more harsh and less forgiving. Also, they would be smarter and would be able to outiwt the children and wouldn't be so spooked by gunshots.
To me it depends on the experience level of the person you give a gun. If adults are given guns,but don't know how to use it, they are not a very effective war tactic. If you give a gun to a twelve year-old, but he has been specially trained for years, that could produce a different outcome to the war. If you use kids with no special training, it is not nearly as effective as using a specially trained adult. Each side has its own pros and cons, and each can alter the outcome of the war.
On the back of the book it says Ismael had therapy after he was taken out of the war. This therapy would likely keep him sane and calm, though in the book he mentioned often waking up with nightmares. Do you think Ismael has moved on with life or do his memories of the war continue to haunt him?
I am sure that he is still haunted by these things. Often times the most traumatic things in our lives stay with us forever. He probably just learned how to handle these memories and how to stay in the present more.
I think the memories of war haunt Ishmael to this day. I think he will always feel a certain level of regret for committing such atrocities, even though he has changed his life and is educating people on the war today. In Chapter 2, he describes a dream in which he is burying a dead body that is himself. Even if he is a changed person, I think he will always remember the war, since it has become a part of his life and has contributed to who he has become today.
I can't speak for him. However, I know that if I had been in his position and seen the things he saw, I would never fully recover. So I think the memories of the war probably still haunt him. How could they not?
In my opinion no amount of therapy can help. Unless you forget these experiences, I believe that they stay with you forever. Especially considering the things that he saw.
The memories of this war will probably never be gone. It was and is still a huge part of what has happened in his life and the things he has endured are scarring. You really can't forget killing someone or watching someone else be killed, no amount of therapy could erase those memories.
My father is a psychologist and he works with many PTSD patients who have been through traumatic experiences. These experiences stay with them forever and the veterans are changed people after the come back from the war, therapy can make things better but it can never completely solve the problem.
I agree with Brian, Ishmael could try to block out he awful things he observed and later in the book what he was forced to do. Watching people die is one thing, but can someone really forgive themselves for attacking innocent people even if it is against his own will. Look at the 9/11 survivors, they still have nightmares of that horrific day, and Ishmael still is haunted by the war.
You'll read more about this later. But yes, therapy doesn't make everything better in the blink of an eye, especially if you don't want to get better because you don't see it as better.
Even with therapy, it's amazing Ishmael could still keep a smile on his face after being through everything he did. As they said in the inside circle, maybe he just accepted it and grew detached from his actions.
I think that Ishmael is portrayed by himself as a weaker character (his vomiting, being completely terrified) to show the changes and harden shell he had to cast on himself to survive in this environment
I agree about illustrating the transition. But I think, that all the people dealt with things differently. Some people would stop talking, some go numb, some are more outward like Beah etc.
While I was reading this book I thought of what would you do if this terrible rebel attack happened in your neighborhood? Would you run would you fight what would you do?
We are so used to having a strong military and police force that we never worry that our neighborhood will be taken over by rebels. We always assume that if we are in trouble, we can just call 911. That is obviously not true in Sierra Leone.
I agree with Sanat. I believe that we would be completely helpless. We rely on the police and the military so much that if those forces went corrupt we wouldn't know what to do. I think that many Americans would get killed because us alone as citizens wouldn't be prepared for any of the terrors that happened in Sierra Leone.
Even something small like the school shootings trigger a huge response in Americans, Imaginne if something like that happened on a much larger scale. Larger than 9/11. We would be helpless. The thought of being attacked barely crosses our minds, so we are mentally unprepared to deal with an attack in our neighborhoods. We would be sitting ducks.
Maybe the boy soldiers are just trying to inflict their pain on others, as if killing people could take away some of the horror they've been though.
I agree, this reminds me of bullying. Many kids who get bullied eventually turn into bullies. I think this relates to the situation of the soldiers. They get so angered by the harm caused and the terrible things they have seen at such a young age that they need to take it out on somebody or something.
That is probably true, but keep in mind they are forced to do this by the rebels, and they never had a choice. After a while you become accustomed to the horrors around you and everything just becomes routine.
I disagree I believe that these boy soldiers believe they are actually fighting for a good cause...
I think the fact that Ishmael and his friends traveled as a group was very beneficial to them.
However other villages looked badly upon a group of boys especially since they were being used as soldiers in the war and they are seen as outcasts and aren't wanted anywhere.
I can't believe that Ishmael portrays everything so calmly, when in reality the scene of war was obviously chaotic and fast-paced. It's also really surprising that he was able to remember everything so vividly.
He portrays it calmly, because if he was freaking out it wouldn't have shown in the text either way- unless the text was chaotic.
Part of the reasons for these kids to become so cruel was because it was their only way to survive and they were also under the influence of various drugs and in a way they are brainwashed and this is the only way they can survive.
I think anyone would want to go back to their homes, even in the middle of total war. He has nothing else but the hope that maybe his family would be waiting for him.
Plus its a place where he might be able to forget about the war, the bad memories and the experiences, for however long, and remind him of a better time.
What about the hope for his own future?
Is there a hope? Think about it. If you were twelve and something like this happened, would you imagine you had a future? Would you even think about it?
When you are going through a traumatic experience the natural instinct is to go back to where you felt safe. The idea of going home feels like a way to escape the horrors, at least until they get home and find what has happened.
I am so surprised that Ishmael would be able to recall all of these bad memories and that he would be able to remember them enough to write a book about them, and in such great detail too.
It seems to me that he remembers certain parts in great deal but her smooths over years. It kind of looks like he remembers it all but they're walking so far that it would be boring to recount all of it.
Yes, I agree completely. I can understand that Ishmael would remember the killings, but not the small details like "We took a bath without soap that night."
I think the main reason for the killing by the young boys in the rebel army is fear. These are young boys not much older than ourselves, and I think they feel that if they don't fallow what the leaders of the army are telling them, they will be killed as well.
This is definitely the reason at first when the rebels take the boys away. It's like being in a gang. You can't just leave without consequence especially since they are branded and even the soldiers would kill them.
In the book the boys seem to rely on each other for everything. When junior got picked and they said they were going to kill all the others. Do you think that Junior would rather die then become one of the soldiers and live without his brothers?
If this happened to me, if my family disappeared during a crisis and I needed them, I don't think I could handle it as well as Ishmael and his brother did......
Being so young caused the rebel boys to be able to make an excuse for why they were allowed to inflect terror among others. Being so young, they act upon their emotions and what they see. I think the rebels are taught that it's ok to hurt innocent people. They are taught and then violence is re-enforced when they see the way the other rebels act and so they presume it to be normal and even natural.
Plus they are scared, they don't want to be killed by the rebels just like everyone else. Their actions are acting upon the fear they feel of the older soldiers and the possibility of them being killed as well.
I agree, when children are subjected to this, especially at a young age, it alters their psychology and changes what they think is wrong and right.
So Ishmael had a lot of domestic struggle before the war. Now his problems of his father are gone, but are replaced with the danger of rebels and death. Ironic, isn't it.
In Chapter 4 Ismael talked about being more hungry than he had ever been in his life. When he and his friends crept back into the village to get money, risking their lives, only to find out no one was selling food. This calamity must have had a huge blow on the emotions of the boys, which had already been scarred seeing all of the wounded and dead. Would this drive you to insanity? Why or why not?
Probably. Living in a world where almost everything is handed to you is wonderful, but to have that all taken away would be terrifying. I don't know if many people could handle that amount change from peace to chaos so quickly; it would probably break their minds.
If I was in the same position as the Ishmael then probably not; due to the fact that I have already seen what is happening and had to deal with this for a long time already as it is. It just would have been something else to build up my strength against everything that was happening; or at least try.
It may not drive you to insanity but it may cause you to not think through certain situations fully because they were so desperate for food. If they would've be able to buy food in the different town then they wouldn't have returned to the village and they would not have run into the rebels.
He says that "suddenly nobody was selling food." I think that, since he mentions people in villages not trusting people especially groups of teenage boys, that they simply refused to sell to them because they might be dangerous. People in studies have been kept in rooms deprived of all sensory and have gone crazy. Suddenly becoming social outcasts would be extremely difficult.
Without the parents of the kids with them was Ishmael the Fatherly figure or did someone else take the leadership of these kids?
I don't think anyone took leadership. I think they all just had one common goal and that was to get away from the rebels and not be captured. The way that Ishmael talks in the book it gives me the idea that they all agreed on the decisions that were brought up.
Ishmael says that the rebels are fighting a corrupt government to liberate the people. They call themselves "freedom fighters." However, they continue to attack towns and murder people with extreme brutality. Why, if the rebels are fighting for liberation from a corrupt government, do they not fight the government and instead kill innocent civilians, whom they should be helping?
I don't think they are really fighting for freedom but personal power and "liberating a country" is just a banner to hide behind.
I think the rebels just want attention for their 'cause'. Maybe there's a mentality that if they stir up enough trouble, the rest of the world will have to pay attention to them. And it worked.
Like I said before, in my opinion, the rebel army is attacking these villages for their own personal gains, not for a better future or a stronger government. Listen to how they speak about the war, the rebels think its all a big game. They are only in it for the loot from the villages and power.
They originally were fighting for the people but they needed to use civilians to protect themselves from the government army. Along with that the rebels were becoming just as corrupt as the government had been originally and that corruption was driving them to do these horrible things.
I think that the rebels are like Kony, who only fights to stay in power. Freedom is just an excuse for violence. The rebels are no better than the government.
The rebels probably did not want to 'liberate the people'. Everyone wants power, and will go to many lengths to get it. People will lie, steal and kill to get what they want but they will always say 'it is for the cause', just to justify their actions. I'm sure they were fighting the government harshly as well, but remember, normal people have their own opinions and even they are seen as threats sometimes, which is why the rebels were attacking them too.
The Rebel said they were fighting for the people that they were killing. They even wanted a village of people afraid of them to welcome them. It seemed like they tried get the people to like them and give hope but would take it away when they take the civilians lives that believed in them.
Ishmael left his city on the day that they happened to be attacked. Do you think he regrets leaving that day even if the rebels attacked and wished that he could go back to see his parents?
I think he wishes that he was there or that his family went with him because he never truly found out what happened to them and was never able to say goodbye.
I think that even if a small part of him is glad that him and his brother are alive that he would still give anything to go back and see his family one last time, because he tells of his family a lot; mainly just worrying about them and if they are okay.
I think that would be a hard thing for him to decide. Leaving for the talent show probably saved his life because he was not in the town when the first attack happened, but he had to live through all of these horrific experiences. On the other hand, if he had stayed home he could have been with his family that one more time, but he most likely would have been killed in that initial attack.
Ishmael's father ignored him because of Ishmael's stepmother. Why do you think his father continued to let his wife boss him around? Why did Ishmael's father stop paying for school?
Ishmael has suspense by bringing up an idea, pushing it down, then later on bringing it up again in action. This really keep you on edge because you know that the idea will come up again, but you're not sure when.
How would you react being in one of the rebels positions? Explain.
I am not entirely sure how I would act if I was in the rebel's position. On one hand my life would be at stake if I disobeyed the rebels, and on the other hand I could not imagine myself killing dozens of innocent civilians just because it is my orders. Honestly, the boys don't get to chose, they join the L.R.A. because a rebel is either going to kill that boy or recruit him.
Honestly we know that the rebals feel as if they are fighting for a good cause and I would feel that too at first. Because think about it America rebelled against the corrupt British government so the rebels are trying to achieve what we as Americans did. But at the realization that I am killing thousands of innocent civilians I would refuse my position as a liberty maker and accept the fact that I am an innocent life taker forced to fight. That is what I would feel as a rebel.
If I were forced to be a sex slave for the rebel army, I would try to escape with as many others as I could or die trying. It is so unimaginable to live like that, and to think how young the children were when this happened. I would rather die than go through this, and the same if I were a child soldier.
I would feel completely helpless in the rebel position because joining the rebels declared me an enemy of the government, so there would be nowhere for me to go if I left and the government would be out to kill me. On the other hand, staying in the rebel army means i have to commit these horrible atrocities.
The Volkswagen was so hard because that man lost his whole family and was trying to save them but he was left all alone.
How does music in the story affect Ishmeal's life?
It gives him something to focus on besides the war and the death of his friends and family. It's a comfort.
I think the boys see the music as "reality". Like they use the music to go back to how their lives were before all of this happened.
Music is the only good thing left in their lives. These boys only have each other and their music. Their families are dead or fled to somewhere unknown. If the boys did not have their music and one another, they wouldn't have anything.
What is the rebels' objective in this war?
I am wondering the sames thing. What is the point in raiding villages and killing innocent people? Is there any?
I think one explanation is that they are killing and raiding villages juts because they can. The war is an excuse for them to do these terrible things, but without the war, there is no real reason for them to do these things.
Maybe it's , because the government is corrupt then the rebels became corrupt so no one can trust anyone anymore. I think there objective was to get the government to surrender, but if they couldn't then they needed to take over the small villages, before they could make it to the Capitol City.
I ask myself this too. How does raiding and killing help anyone? It seems like they are just doing these things because they can and because it gives them a sense of superiority. The leader of the war must only be doing this for personal gain because how could any of this improve the conditions of the people or the country?
It's crazy to think how many boys were involved in the army. It's even more mind blowing to think about how those boys could and did murder innocents, without knowing why. Ishmael Beah didn't know what cause the rebels were for, I doubt the rebels knew either.
"The younger rebel raised my head with his bayonet, still in its scabbard. While he was looking at me sternly, he took the bayonet from its scabbard and attached it at the muzzle of his gun. I trembled so hard that my lips shook. He smiled without emotion" p.31. This quote shows how Beah's writing style creates suspense. It is so direct that it makes you scared and eager to see what he wrote next.
The woman with the dead baby is *not* lucky. Her child is dead. She's failed as a mother an has to live through the pain of losing her kid.
Well the lady was lucky she lived but I mean living in a world without your child would cause some serious depression and want them to be dead along with there baby.
She is more or less lucky that she gets to keep her life. Many parents in Sierra Leone lose children to diseases and who's to say that the baby would've survived much longer anyway? I know that sounds terrible but the mother kept her life and can always continue on to start a new family and a new life if she wishes. That baby saved her life and she may be distraught at the loss but she didn't "fail" as a mother.
The part of the book, where the family was driving away, and a poor mans whole family was killed before him,was the most emotional part of the book this far for me. I couldn't imagine the pain that man felt, after risking his life to save his entire family, and to be the only one to survive would be unbearable.
Without any of your family left alive would that cause enough pain and grief that you would not want to live anymore since you have no loved one with you? Why or Why not?
If this ever happened to me I don't think I would want to die. Taking my own life would just give the people that killed my family exactly what they want. If anything, I would want to take revenge on those who killed my family.
If I were the only one left in my family, I would be overwhelmed with grief and would most likely not want to live anymore. However, in my current life, I might be able to continue living and push the pain aside. I would start my own family and know I could survive. On the other hand, if I were living in Ishmael's situation, and my entire family was dead, I would have no hope and would rather be dead. I would have to live my life in a constant fear of the war, and with no home or means of income, both which would be hard to come by in such a time, I would find death an escape.
I find it kind of ironic that the rebels write a letter to the town telling them to welcome the rebels since they are fighting for them ,but in reality they are actually the ones killing them.
How does Ishmael's situation override the human fight or flight instinct?
If the woman who lost her child died instead of the baby then as a result the baby would have died without a mother
Why did the rebels keep sending messengers with false alarms that they were going to attack Mattru Jong? They made two false alarms before actually coming.
They probably did this to trigger fear in the civilians.
I think they did this to scare the people and have them move, and then they would wait and not attack, then the people would move back, and they'd repeat the process, so the people would start believing that the messages were false, and start to believe that the army might not be coming, and then when the people had moved on and gone back to regular life, the army would attack when the people where off their guard.
I agree with Kathleen but also in the story it tells about how if the Village gave it self up to the rule of the rebels that nobody would be harmed.
The horrific scene of the dead baby on the woman's back not only evoked sadness in me, but also extreme anger that the rebels could kill such an innocent life. Ishmael describes her as dying with an "interrupted innocent smile on her face." I think this scene represents the corruptness and complete loss of innocence during times of war. No one, even a young child, is an exception to the tragedy of war. If I were the baby's mother, I would have rather died. I would have not been able to live on knowing I lived because my baby blocked the bullets aimed for me.
Is it possible that the woman who carried the baby on her back does not know the child dead? She was running from bullets herself and the bullets did not go through the baby's body. There was a man carrying his dead son and he though he was alive. What is your opinion?
I think she knew in the back of her mind that the baby was dead but she was holding on to the idea that it was still alive so she could deal with everything else going on.
Should Ishmael and the boys tried to help the villagers cross the clearing during the rebel attack?
I think the reason why Ishmael can't distinguish between reality and dreams is because there are equally horrific things going on in his dreams as in reality. Usually dreams are far fetched and unrealistic but in this case the things that are happening to Ishmael are also unrealistic and far fetched so it is hard to distinguish a barrier.
@fishbowl Even though death is common, are the parents still just as sad as we would be over their dead children?
When the old man is being frightened by the rebels saying that he just wants to go look for his family. Do you think that the rebels deep down had sympathy for him because they were taken away from there families like him?