A Long Way Gone

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In the wise words of Rita Brown “good judgment comes from experience and often experience comes from bad judgment”. Often gaining wisdom or having good judgment comes from misfortune or hardship. In Ishmael Beah’s story he changes as a character because of his experiences. Ishmael gains wisdom through his experience at the UNICEF rehabilitation camp for boy soldiers after being a part of the Sierra Leone civil war. He shares his journey in his memoir A Long Way Gone.

First, Ishmael changed a lot as a person throughout his journey. Before the civil war, Ishmael was a troublesome boy who enjoyed rapping and dancing with his brother and his friends. He was touched by the war at the age of twelve. After witnessing the village that his family was in get attacked by the rebels, he became vindictive. Ishmael joined the government army. There he learns that he is capable of terrible acts such as cutting people’s heads off and raiding villages. Ishmael did all this without fear because he was under the influence of drugs. After three years in the army he was removed from fighting. Ishmael was placed in a UNICEF rehabilitation camp for boy soldiers. During his time at the camp, he slowly reconnects with his old self and gains wisdom that helped him later on in his life. Ishmael had a tough childhood because of all the things that he was a victim of and the things that he was a part of.

One example of how Ishmael gains wisdom is through his experience at the rehabilitation camp. During his time at the camp, Ishmael meets a caring nurse by the name of Esther. Esther never judged Ishmael. She helped him heal by repetitively telling him “It was not his fault”. She never gave up on Ishmael even when he was acting stubborn. Esther gave Ishmael time to forgive himself, trust other and regain humanity. Esther did this by reconnecting Ishmael to things that he enjoyed before becoming a boy soldier, like music. She gave him a walkman that he could listen to...
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