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Long Way Gone - the Violence in Sierra Leone

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The Violence In Sierra Leone

When someone brings up the topic of war, guns, and the army, people tend to think of their favourite action movie or whatever is in the recent news. However, people don’t tend to truly think about the consequences that what they see on their screens has on certain nations.Sierra Leonean author, Ishmael Beah speaks about what these consequences have on him, and his journey of survival through the civil war, in Sierra Leone, in his novel A Long Way Gone. In A Long Way Gone, Ishmael Beah uses first-person narration, the symbol of blood, and violent imagery in order to reflect on what his violent experiences teach about the consequences of violence.

In this novel, Beah showcases the way he deals with the war, and the struggle he faces for survival, through first-person narration. Beah explains, “The only escape from this pain was to keep walking and hope for something miraculous”(Beah 60). Beah and his friends struggle under the hot burning sun looking for a safe place to be. Kids are fighting for their own survival and facing death every day. Furthermore, Beah also states, “Moriba began to sob . . . everyone except me started to sob and moved next to Moriba, who was now crying loudly . . . We continued on without saying a word to each other. We all knew that we could grieve only for a short while in order to continue staying alive”( Beah 89). Beah explains that he can’t fully express his feelings towards his situation, and has to bottle all of it in, in order to simply live. First-person narration really helps the reader to truly acknowledge how severe the violence in Sierra Leone is.

Also, the symbol of blood has a big impact in Beah’s story. The blood symbolizes death

and horror. Beah describes, “The last casualty we saw that evening was a woman carrying her baby on her back. Blood was running down her dress and dripping behind her, making a trail. Her child was shot dead as she ran for her life” ( Beah 13). This horrid anecdote shows the lives of not one, but many families shattered and snatched away violently by the cruelty roaming the air of this nation. Also, Beah explains, “Whenever I turned on the tap water, all I could see was blood gushing out. I would stare at it until it looked like water before drinking or taking a shower” (Beah 145). The symbol of blood is so strong and that even when he gets out of the war, the blood still comes back to haunt him.Additionally, Beah says:

He had been shot sometime, as we ran away the previous night. His right leg was bleeding and it began to swell. He was holding his side and didn’t want to remove his hand. Alhaji lifted Gasemu’s hand; his side was bleeding as well. It was as if his hand had been holding his blood from flowing. It rushed out of him like water breaking banks. . . His blood is on my palms and my wrists . . . For a few minutes I try to imagine what it feels like for Gasemu when his

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