Study Guide

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier Art & Culture

By Ishmael Beah

Art & Culture

You wouldn't think that in a book about war, devastation, and violence, you'd find a whole lot of art and culture. But it's exactly in a book about those horrible things that you need that stuff. In A Long Way Gone, for Ishmael, hip hop music and folktales are an escape from the terrors of war. They're also a way to transport him back to a safer, more innocent time during his childhood. As long as Ishmael has a connection to the stories and music he loves, he can remember the person he used to be. Without art, all that's left in his life is pain and violence.

Questions About Art & Culture

  1. How do the individual songs Ishmael is listening to reflect his life at different points?
  2. Why does Ishmael's connection to music and stories fade when he's fighting in the war?
  3. What do Laura and Ishmael have in common?
  4. How does Ishmael's family transmit their culture to him?

Chew on This

Hip hop music saves Ishmael's life both literally and figuratively.

Stories are important to Ishmael, which is why he decides to become a storyteller and tell us his life story.

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