Study Guide

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier Man and the Natural World

By Ishmael Beah

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Man and the Natural World

Nature is a beautiful thing. But it's tough to stop and smell the roses when you're being shot at or running for your life.

In A Long Way Gone, Ishmael grows up with a strong connection to the natural world. He even sees his own sadness reflected in the sky, trees, and animals. As he spends more and more time in the army, Ishmael loses his entire connection with nature. He no longer cares about looking at creation; he just wants to destroy. It's not until he leaves the army that he's able to get back some of that connection to the natural world around him. Rock and trees everywhere are glad to see him again.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Do you agree with Ishmael's grandmother that people should strive to be like the moon?
  2. Why does Ishmael include so much description of nature in the book?
  3. Why does Ishmael stop noticing the natural world once he joins the army?
  4. If trees could talk, what do you think they would say while standing around watching violence and war?

Chew on This

Ishmael uses beautiful language to describe nature in order to distinguish it from the ugliness of war.

For Ishmael, nature stays constant, unlike the chaos around him.

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