English and Literature
Submitted By PolandSprint
David Domiczek December 11, 2011
Ms. Wagner A Long Way Gone
In the memoir A Long Way Gone written by Ishmael Beah, it is clear that American culture is a pervasive theme in the author’s life. There are many examples in the memoir that show how Ishmael us influenced by Western culture such as the movies and music. There are also many parts in the memoir in which Ishmael’s life is saved by the American culture. An example of this can be seen in chapter 6, when Ishmael is captured by some village guards. As the village people shouted for Ishmael and his friends to be drowned in the river, one of the guards found a rap cassette in Ishmael’s pocket. The chief of the village questioned where Ishmael had gotten that kind of foreign music. He responded by saying he and his friends rapped and were also in a dancing group (p. 38). This is one example of how music and American culture was a theme and how it saved Ishmaels life. There is also another time in which Ishmael is captured by village leaders and was stuck between life and death. Luckily they found his rap cassette and the chief watched as he made Ishmael dance and mime the songs “O.P.P” and “I Need Love.” The chief of the village explained to everyone that is was all a misunderstanding and that Ishmael and his friends were just children looking for safety (p. 68). Western American culture also helped Ishmael and his friends cope with the war and survive as a child soldier. When Ishmael was a soldier he said that the children watched movies such as Rambo to help them feel at ease so that they could raid villages. Upon raiding one of the villages, Ishmael’s friend was nicknamed “Little Rambo” for the stealth murders he committed. “Alhaji grabbed the guard’s mouth and sliced his neck with his bayonet” (p. 143). There are other things such as rap music which also distracts Ishmael from flashbacks of the war. When Ishmael is being rehabilitated, one of the nurses in the hospital gave him a Walkman, a cassette of Run DMC and Bob Marley, and a note book and pen for Ishmael to write down lyrics. Western American culture is a major theme in the memoir of Ishmael Beah. Those are some examples of how the culture such as movies and music is the theme to this memoir and how it has saved Ishmaels life and even helped him cope with the stresses of the war. Also Ishmael’s Walkman and cassettes have played a very important role in his life.