Study Guide

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier Manipulation

By Ishmael Beah

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Nobody wants to be manipulated. But that's the trick to manipulation—do it so your victims don't realize they're being influenced at all. Sneaky, right?

When Ishmael first joins the army in A Long Way Gone, he doesn't seem to suspect that he's being played. His commanding officers tell him to kill to avenge his family. Then, they give him a whole bunch of drugs and turn on some war movies. Pretty soon, Ishmael's a killing machine. Wasn't that easy? It's only later that Ishmael realizes all the ways he was tricked into a life of killing. Maybe that's why the staff at the rehabilitation center is always telling him it's not his fault.

It's really not.

Questions About Manipulation

  1. How do you think Lieutenant Jabati became such a skilled manipulator?
  2. Why are the methods the army uses—drugs, desensitizing, and vengeance—effective in creating child soldiers?
  3. How are civilians manipulated by army and rebel propaganda along with the soldiers?

Chew on This

Children make great soldiers because they're easy to manipulate and control.

People who recruit children to kill are the worst of the worst manipulators.

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