The novel, , written by Ishmael Beal-I is a true and troubling Story Of a child soldier during the civil war in Sierra Leone, an African country. Beah face s many arduous struggles and carries out many atrocities while fighting that no child should ev er have to endure. How and why does the army trick these children into doing these abhorrent t asks, specifically Ishmael Beah while he was fighting for Sierra Leone? From the time the children walk into the army camps, they begin to be brainw ashed into hinking that the army is fun.
When Ishmael Beah first walks into the army ca mp, he sees all of the soldiers laughing, socializing, and playing games that reminded him Of ho me (Beah 1012). The army makes camp seem enjoyable in order to beguile the children into b elieving that they are not in danger, but, in fact, in a great community. Not long after this, reality starts to set in. As violence starts to erupt, Beah’s lieutenant calls everyone together to show th em two bodies, a man and a child, that had just been gruesomely killed (Beah 107). He spoke to the child soldiers, announcing that,
Don’t waste your time!
Order your assignment!
This man and this child decided to leave this morning even though I had told t hem it was dangerous. The man insisted that he didn’t want to be a part of our war , so I gave him his wish and let him go. Look at what happened. The rebels shot the m In the clearing. My men brought them back, and I decided to show you, so that y ou can fully understand the situation we are in. (Beah 1078) Smith 2 Anybody that tries to escape from the rebels is instantly killed, and they often show the bodies to the new recruits (Dupuy 66).
One can assume that they do this essentially to s care loyalty into he young soldiers and make them feel that fighting in the war is their only op tion. Soon after that incident, the frightened children are each given an AK47 (Beah 11 1 The commanders make these children think that killing is the right and honorable thing to do. T hey make them think that by killing an opponent they are in turn killing the person that harm ed their family (Beah 1 12). The children are “often told that they are protecting their families, homes, and fatherland against rebels who have no right to challenge the government,” (D upuy 67).
An individual may conclude that they use these strategies in order to manipulate he juveniles into becoming killing machines. “Few constraints exist on what trainers can do to children, and children themselves may lack the internal constraints against violence that ordinarily develop through exposure to positive role models, a healthy family life, the rewards for socially constructive behavior, and the encouragement of reasoni Weakened psychologically and fearful of their commanders, children can bec ome obedient killers, willing to take on the most dangerous and horrifying assignments. (Wessells 35) The children are then forced to fight on the front lines, killing anyone that cro sed their path. A 14yearold Mozambican boy who had previously been a soldier stated that, “T hey put someone in front of me for me to kill. I killed,” (Wessells 35). Additionally, the commanders of the army keep the children in a haze by feed ing them drugs. As the soldiers smoke marijuana, the camp is immersed in nothing but its stench (Beah Smith 3 101 A copious amount Of child soldiers have reported that they were forced i nto taking drugs (Dupuy 70).
A camp director from a UNICEF rehabilitation facility says that, “w hen the youths had been given drugs most likely amphetamines they do just about a ything that was ordered. ‘ Some, he added, were proud of having been effective killers,” (Wess ells 32). Surely enough, Beah states that before the group of soldiers go out to fight, they are all given unidentifiable white pills that are supposed to give them energy (Beah 116). T he youthful soldiers are often given amphetamines in order to make them less fearful an d more likely to kill their enemies. (Wessells 36).
While at camp, Ishmael Beah takes a plethora of drugs. The first time he took all of the drugs at the same time, it gave him an extreme amoun t of energy and he elt nothing but numbness (Beah 121). Along with food and ammunition, drug s are considered one of the essential elements to maintaining the camp (Beah 121 When he a rrived to the rehabilitation facility, Beah was so addicted to these drugs that he would sear ch his pockets for crumbs of cocaine, steal pills from the hospital, and smoke paper in order to t ry to ease their addiction (Beah 139).
These children had been kept high on so many drugs fo r so long in order to keep them numb from any morals they might have had left. Furthermore, the commanders of the camp subject these children to war for myriad Of reasons. “Child soldiering violates the fundamental rights of children, exploits youth for political purposes, subjects them to slaughter and the ravages of war, and immerses t hem in a system that sanctions killing,” (Wessells 33). If that is the case, why has there been betwee n two and three hundred thousand active child soldiers each year for twenty to thirty years?
C hild soldiers are used as pawns. Since their minds are not yet done developing, they can be ea sily manipulated into doing whatever they are told and thinking it is the right thing to do. This c n be seen when Smith 4 Beah’s lieutenant picks five boys, including Beah, to do a killing exhibition (Be ah 124). He lines up five prisoners and each boy has to slice the prisoners throat (Beah 124). Th e lieutenant turns it into a competition where the boys prisoner who dies the fastest wins (Beah 1 24).
When the contest is over, all of the child soldiers are celebrating and clapping despite th e traumatic event that had just taken place (Beah 124). The lieutenant easily tricks the children nto committing atrocious acts and thinking they are perfectly normal and even fun. The lieute ants recruit these children because, “they are capable of performing such a wide range of comb at or combatrelated activities, sometimes even better than adults can,” (Dupuy 69). The leaders of the army also view the children as potential spies.
They know that innocent childr en are the least suspected people when they are spying on the opposite troops (Dupuy 69). B eah’s lieutenant spoke of informants they had on the other side, most likely child soldiers for t his reason (Beah 122). The child soldiers have a less developed understanding of the danger an d risk in a situation han an adult and therefore would attack more fearlessly (Dupuy 69). These c hildren do not fully comprehend the consequences and therefore are willing to do a lot more tha n an adult soldier.
The youthful soldiers are much easier to recruit because they are often despe rate in search of food and shelter and vulnerable from family separation (Dupuy 6970). Since t hey are so vulnerable, they do not require pay (Dupuy 69). Unlike the adult soldiers, the c not concerned with earning a wage. Especially in Ishmael Beah’s case, he was more concerned with staying alive. In conclusion, Ishmael Beah’s novel, long way gone, describes his traumatic journey as a boy soldier. The leaders Of the army deceive these children into thinking tha t the army is a pleasant and joyful community.
They exploit these children into doing horren dous tasks by Smith 5 pumping them with drugs until they are completely numb. The children are e asier to recruit than adults and lack the knowledge to fully understand the effects of their actions. It is unfair and unjust that thousands of children are unknowingly coerced into participating i n the army, and despite efforts to save these children, it continues today. The sad truth is that oys like Ishmael Beah have suffered, still suffer, and will continue to suffer at the hands of arm y commanders until outside forces put an end to it.