Study Guide

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier Community

By Ishmael Beah

Community

Unless you're a hermit living on a remote desert island, everyone belongs to a community. Even that hermit probably has some marine life friends hanging around. In A Long Way Gone, Ishmael also belongs to a strong community in his village…that is, until the war breaks out. As Ishmael travels around Sierra Leone, he sees how war and violence have broken down people's connections to each other. It's a civil war—people who know each other are fighting on opposite sides.

When people are afraid, communities fall apart as people turn against each other in an attempt to survive. It's enough to make you wish you could live on that desert island, too.

Questions About Community

  1. How does fear destroy connections between people in Sierra Leone's civil war?
  2. Compare and contrast different villages and towns Ishmael visits. How are they different in their views towards Ishmael and other outsiders?
  3. Why do people see Ishmael and his friends as a danger to them?

Chew on This

Breaking apart the communal bonds is a tool of war. Divide and conquer.

Ishmael doesn't judge the people who don't trust him. He understands where their fear comes from and that they—like him—are just trying to survive.

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