Ishmael beah essay

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Ishmael beah essay

Beah prefaces the book with a dialogue between himself and an anonymous American student, in which Beah highlights the obliviousness of people who have never truly encountered violence.

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Their idea of violence is that of Hollywood it seems. This idea is further echoed throughout the book when the children in Sierra Leone are made to watch Rambo movies in an attempt to glorify violence. It is also mentioned by Beah on the very first page of his memoir: Here Beah, describing his views before the war, is identifying himself with the oblivious American student, who represents all those who have an unrealistic idea of violence and war- the people Beah is writing for, as such we can see that the reason why Beah chooses to write this story is to depict a realistic version of what violence and war are actually like because now he has actually lived through such events he feels he needs to highlight the unrealistic notions people have.

Beah has made no qualms about saying that he is representing his trauma to the world in order to raise awareness and counter these unrealistic views. However, many would argue that a person cannot truly represent a realistic version of such events when they are telling it from a post-traumatic viewpoint, as Beah is doing.

Review: A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah | Books | The Guardian

But I believe Beah has countered this argument within the text already. Wait for your turn. If Rambo is an unrealistic portrayal of war and violence it is because it claims to be coming from an impartial perspective: If we focus on the character of Musa we can see Beah explicitly highlighting the importance of storytelling in the world of the text.

When the text informs us that Musa is dead it is immediately followed by the first time Beah kills someone: Musa death is a very significant moment.

Ishmael Beah - Wikipedia

He was the only one, for Beah, who was a human link to the past before the war, to his childhood. A page later and Beah writes: Musa, the storyteller, was gone. It signifies not only that Musa, as a storyteller, was seen as something beyond a human being he was something or someone who could transcend death ,so to speak but also, and more significantly, that the storyteller still exists somewhere and only needs to be re-found.

Rap music serves a very similar role for Beah as Musa had. Not only does rap music literally save his life, more than once but it is also a link to the past, his childhood.

On more than one occasion, before Beah becomes a child soldier, we see him listening to rap music and thinking about life before the war while simultaneously using rap as a means to mentally escape his physical surroundings. After the trauma of been a child soldier story-telling is what first facilitates his return to normality.

When Ester gives him a Walkman and rap cassettes and he jumps up and hugs her, we immediately see a glimpse of humanity return to Beah and straight after this, while he is listening to the music, he tells Ester his story, the first time he tells anyone.

Being reunited with rap music reconnects Beah with his past, his childhood, and crucially facilities him in becoming his own story-teller. He realises that Musa may be gone but that he can tell his own story, his own way.

This is what storytelling does.

Ishmael beah essay

It is this humanisation, through story-telling, which enables Beah to decipher the old parable about killing the monkey in terms of others and not just himself and this is precisely what he is doing with writing his book; telling his story for Gloriana Monge Ishmael's Loss of Innocence in A Long Way Gone Ishmael is not yet exposed to the horrors of war, until the rebels attack his home village of Mattru Jong He begins to experience war first hand hearing the sounds of gun shots and the screams of terrified villagers.

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