the consequences of violence in the memoir: A Long Way Gone

A Long Way Gone

Synthesis Paper

“In the fifty-plus conflicts now going on around the globe, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah, the author of this horrifying yet vitally important memoir, used to be one of them. What is war like for a twelve- or thirteen-year-old soldier? How does a child become a killer? How does one stop? Child soldiers have been profiled by journalists, and novelists have tried to imagine their lives. But until now, there has been no firsthand account by someone who came through such hell and survived.” — Scott Pitcock

Please choose one of the following paper prompts:

1. Violence: Violence is, of course, a major theme in these pages—physical, psychological, social, and more. Please reflect on what Beah’s many violent experiences express about the consequences or after effects (again, physical, psychological, social, etc.) of violence. Include detailed examples from the text.

2. Trust: Early in his account, Beah laments how “the war had destroyed the enjoyment of the very experience of meeting people” (48). Where else does he express this fact, or else suffer from its consequences of trusting strangers? Discuss Beah’s on-going struggle between trust (and survival) as it relates to his relationship with others. Provide specific details and examples from the text.

3. Family: A Long Way Gone is a text with much to say on the subject of family: family life, family relationships, and family environment. Please evaluate the functions of the many different families that Beah has belonged to over the course of his young life. Provide specific details and examples from the text.

4. See me for approval of a different topic related to the theme of the memoir.

(Other possible themes include but are not limited to the following: resilience, rehabilitation, community, choice, coming of age, humanity, memory)

Drafting Focus:

· Voice (third person research)

· Thesis & Development

· Source Validity & College Databases

· MLA Documentation

Minimum Research Requirements:

(4 sources total)

o 2 quotes from an article (from FSCJ databases only)

o 1 quote from one reputable website (aim for .edu or .gov; online newspapers are acceptable)

o 1 paraphrase example from a book or e-book

o At least 4 quotes from the memoir, A Long Way Gone

o At least 4-5 literary terms

Resources –


MLA Essay Guidelines:

o Size: 12 Point

o Font: Times New Roman

o Margins: 1” on all four sides

o Length: 4-5 full pages (double spaced) – (plus a Works Cited page)

*Note: Please remember that this course emphasizes writing as a process of drafts. You will be expected to edit and revise your paper at least two times (the peer reviewed draft and the Writing Lab reviewed draft).


Other Notes-


Ishmael Beah was born in Sierra Leone in 1980. He moved to the United States in 1998 and finished his last two years of high school at the United Nations International School in New York. In 2004 he graduated from Oberlin College with a B.A. in political science. He is a member of the Human Rights Watch Children’s Rights Division Advisory Committee and has spoken before the United Nations, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Center for Emerging Threats and Opportunities (CETO) at the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, and many other NGO panels on children affected by the war. His work has appeared in Vespertine Press and LIT magazine. He lives in New York City.

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