"Junior, Talloi, and I listened to rap music, trying to memorize the lyrics so that we could avoid thinking about the situation at hand. Naughty by Nature, LL Cool J, Run-D.M.C., and Heavy D & The Boyz; we had left home with only these cassettes and the clothes that we wore. I remember sitting on the verandah listening to "Now That We Found Love" by Heavy D & The Boyz and watching the trees at the edge of town that reluctantly moved to the slow wind." (15).
"I took off my old pants, which contained the rap cassettes. As I was putting on my new army shorts, a soldier took my old pants and threw them into a blazing fire that had been set to burn our old belongings. I ran toward the fire, but the cassettes had already started to melt. Tears formed in my eye, and my lips shook as I turned away." (110).
"I began to look forward to Esther's arrival in the afternoons. I sang for her the parts of songs I had memorized that day. Memorizing lyrics left my little time to think about what had happened in the war. As I grew comfortable with Esther, I talked to her mainly about Bob Marley's lyrics and Run-D.M.C.'s, too. " (163)
One of the themes present in A Long Way Gone is music and how it impacts peoples' thoughts, emotions, character, and their overall lives. It also underlies the idea of music being a distraction from the hardships and rough patches people go through. In the first selection, Junior, Talloi, and Ishmael try to memorize lyrics to rap music in order to "avoid thinking about the situation at hand". The situation being the war and the reality of knowing the rebels would soon invade their village. In the second selection, Ishmael is deeply saddened ("Tears formed in my eye, and my lips shook as I turned away.") that his cassettes have been destroyed, as they were a symbol of his childhood and his life before the war and chaos. In the last selection, Ishmael once again uses music as a distraction, which left him "little time to think about what...
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