Ismael Beah: Ishmael is the main character, and the narrator of the story. He is a young boy that became a child solider in the Sierra Leone, in an attempt to fight against the RUF, the rebel soldiers believed to be responsible for the death of his family. He goes on an exceptionally long physical, and emotional journey as a solider, until ultimately UNICEF arrives, and removes him from the situation. At the rehabilitation center, after nearly a year, Beah becomes capable of emotions and behaving properly towards others.
Junior, and Beah’s other immediate family: Ishmael’s family is the main reason he even dared to venture back to his village, and they are a part of the reason why he joined the SLAF as a solider.
The Lieutenant: During Ishmael’s time in the SLAF, I feel as though the Lieutenant become somewhat of a father figure for Beah, especially considering they shared the bond over Shakespeare, something Beah did with his father. He aides in the training of Beah during the war, and makes sure Beah is taken care of when he is injured. When UNICEF comes, the Lieutenant decided to hand over Beah, which partially breaks the bond between them due to feelings of betrayal and anger.
Esther: Esther is a majorly important character in the book, due to the fact that she greatly aided in the rehabilitation of Ishmael. At first their relationship began with her nursing him, and his wounds, but after Esther presented Beah with a cassette tape, Beah begins to have breakthroughs, and in some ways she helps bring Beah back to the person he was before the war. Her unconditional love towards Beah, and her persistence with him greatly helped Beah.
Uncle Tommy: Tommy is Beah’s father’s brother. He is crucial to the story in ways similar to Esther but also in his own. In some ways, Tommy provides a healthy connection to Beah’s past which aides to his rehabilitation, and he also provides Ishmael with unconditional love and support. The main part that Tommy played, was when we learned that Ishmael was able to leave the center, and Tommy gave him a place to stay. This is important because we find that most soldiers that don’t find family to live with end up returning back to the war.
Mohamed: Mohamed is very important in the fact that he becomes someone Ishmael can relate to throughout the entire process he endures, and although it cannot be known whether or not their physical journey was the same, once at the rehab center, he aides in Ishmael emotional journey, and becomes someone like a brother to him. Laura Simms: Laura is possibly one of the most important characters in this story. She and Ishmael develop a very strong bond from the start, and eventually she becomes the one to “save” Ishmael when the war reaches Freetown. After Ishmael manages to escape from Sierra Leone, when he returns to America, Laura becomes his foster mother. Through her story telling, she helps Ishmael, and the other child at the UN tell their stories, and shows Ishmael that she is someone that does genuinely care about the welfare of these people.
Summary of Events
This story begins with Beah talking to his friends in New York, and them asking about his time in the Sierra Leone. He then tells us about his life before the war, and talks about his trip with his friends as a performing rap group, and how the war hit his village. He then begins to tell the reader about the struggle to survive he begin to face with his brother, and friends, and how they began to commit crimes just to survive. Eventually, Beah is captured by the SLAF and he becomes a solider for the army. He talks about what is was like to blackout all of his emotions and simply kill, and how he used the murders to take vengeance on the RUF for killing his family. He also talks about being addicted to drugs, smoking, and “brown brown” and how they were able to commit the acts he did, without feeling whatsoever, or to combat his numbing migraines. At one point...
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