The Powers Of Revenge And Forgiveness
The novel A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah, is a memoir about himself, sharing his harrowing experience as a child growing up and his struggle for survival in Sierra Leone. The unthinkable happened in his village, Mattru Jong. The civil war occurred out of nowhere separating families apart, to never see each other again; fathers were shot, women were assaulted and children were dictated to partake in war. Disobeying orders from the commander and second-guessing costs the lives of numerous children and would be shot without feeling remorse. Children were dehumanized and lost all morals and sense of right and wrong. Ismael displays his optimism on his journey, believing to reunite with his family someday and the hope that they are alive and safe. He triumphs through many obstacles and deterrents throughout his journey. The foremost excruciating thing to ever happen is to be separated from family; memories start to blur, the unconditional, pure love of a family inevitably fades into thin air and is forgotten. In addition, the loss of family sprung lustful vengeance, inflicting the hero to act blindly out of revenge. Furthermore, one must first forgive themselves and accept the cruelty and injustice in the world, otherwise, one will be stuck in one spot forever. Therefore, the loss of family leads to lustful vengeance, as a result, Ismael’s innocence was supplanted by both fear and enmity. To prevail over revenge, one must experience love and forgiveness to give up your justified right for revenge and to stride forward in life.
Ishmael Beah has undergone various hardships and breaks unbreakable barriers that were shouldered upon him. Losing his family was the pivotal event in Ishmael’s life; it turned him into a killer. As the only survivor in his family, he feels cursed and neglected in this brutal world. After being rescued and brought to safety, he was this close to reuniting with his family, however, he never got the chance to see them as the rebels struck, Ishmael sobs “I wanted to see my family, even if it meant dying with them” (96). Ishmael would rather see his family one last time, and be together one last time, even if it meant that he would give up his life. To continue, now in Benin Home, he is still haunted by the horrific things that happened throughout the years serving the army as a child soldier. “I would try desperately to think about my childhood, but I couldn’t. The war memories had formed a barrier that I had to break to think about any moment in my life before the war.” (149) He has been trained to fight, to kill, and to survive without experiencing love in those years. Finally, having broken through his own barriers, he begins to trust nurse Esther, restoring his sense of family and recalls fragments of memories exchanged with his family, and openly discusses it with the nurse. Beah remembers this connection and seeks to make himself whole again starting by forgiving himself.
Ishmael Beah’s lust for revenge is brought upon and he stays alive so that the deaths of his family were not in vain, which ultimately led to joining the army. Lieutenant Jabati manipulates these boys including Beah who are devastated by the loss of their parents. He states that “Over and over in our training [Liutentant] would say that same sentence: Visualize the enemy, the rebels who killed your parents, your family, and those who are responsible for everything that has happened to you.” (112) The rebels are blamed for the death of Ishmael’s family, and his soldiering is motivated by his desire for revenge. His bloodthirsty nature is heavily influenced by drugs and the words from the Liutenetant he idolizes and respects. However, the Lieutenant uses their helplessness and rage and channels it towards destroying the enemy. Turning innocent, impressionable children into killing tools that can be replaced at any time. Ishmael concluded, rather than seeing revenge as a solution that might satisfy his grief, Ishmael speaks of revenge as a tool that brings more war, “I joined the army to avenge the deaths of my family and to survive, but I’ve come to learn that if I am going to take revenge, in that process I will kill another person whose family will want revenge; then revenge and revenge and revenge will never come to an end…” (199). The cycle of vengeance will never come to an end and war that comes as a result of revenge does more harm than good to the very people perpetrating it.
Forgiveness is perplexing in its own right. Nevertheless, when we have to confront the reality of forgiving ourselves, it can quickly become a (seemingly) impossible feat but we must move past it. At the United Nations Conference, he meets other delegates and learns their stories and life in war-torn countries. He realizes that wars and conflict have stolen other childhoods like his. He speaks firmly, “It was not easy being a soldier, but we just had to do it. I have been rehabilitated now, so don’t be afraid of me. I am not a soldier anymore; I am a child.” (199). Beah embraces his gruesome past and takes the initiative to share this information. He endured the fear and overcame the enmity that dwelled within him, which made him turn out the way he is now. Withal, he has gone through, he was allowed to announce the following, ‘We can be rehabilitated,’ I would emphasize, and point to myself as an example. I would always tell people that I believe children have the resilience to outlive their sufferings if given a chance.” (169) Children have incredible resilience to strive forward in life and can revolutionize the world. However, if the chance does not arise people are left isolated from society, and in this instance, Beah would not have been able to forgive himself for the horrendous stuff he had to do to survive and all the guilt will eventually consume him whole internally
The loss of family leads to lustful vengeance, as a result, Ismael’s innocence was supplanted by both fear and enmity. To prevail over revenge, one must experience love and forgiveness to give up your justified right for revenge and to stride forward in life. In conclusion, This shows the transformation of Ishmael Beah, from the bloodthirsty soldier who desired revenge, to the thoughtful child who wants to change the world. Ishmael now understands that he was brainwashed into revenge but has been rehabilitated to move beyond that and make decisions for himself.
Cite this Essay
To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below