Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah A Long Way Gone In the 50-plus conflicts going on around the globe, it’s estimated there are 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them. Ishmael Beah First-hand account of civil war in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Flees attacking rebels Searches for lost relatives Seeks food and shelter in the bush Recruited by the government army and turned into a ruthless killer War in Sierra Leone The Sierra Leone Civil War began in March 1991. War in Sierra Leone Revolutionary United Front (RUF), with support from the special forces of Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), intervened in Sierra Leone in an attempt to overthrow the Momoh government War in Sierra Leone Sparked a gruesome 11year civil war that enveloped the country and Left over 50,000 dead. Ishmael Beah Born in 1980 Moved to U.S. in 1998 Graduated from Oberlin College with a bachelor’s in political science Member of the Human Rights Watch Children’s Division Advisory Committee. Spoke before the United Nations Journal 1: Blood Diamond What vestiges of colonialism did you notice in Blood Diamond What responsibility for the violence and destruction of Sierra Leone is reasonable to place on Europeans and Americans? Journal 2: Response to Danny In Blood Diamond, Danny states: “Sometimes I wonder, will God ever forgive us for what we’ve done to each other? Then I look around and I realize, God left this place a long time ago.” How would you respond to Danny’s statement? Journal 3: Ishmael interview Watch Ishmael Beah’s interview One of the larger messages is that “everyone is capable of going beyond their own humanity and doing things that are not humane.” Where have you seen examples of this in the novels we’ve read this year or in historical events that you’ve studied? Are there current events that reflect this statement’s truth? Do you think you will ever act in an inhumane way? Why or why not? Remember to utilize the tools of diction and detail. Journal 4: Human needs In your journal list all of the needs of humans. Place your list inside a pyramid with the most necessary needs on the bottom and the least necessary at the top. Journal 5: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs • • Psychologist Abraham Maslow first introduced his concept of a hierarchy of needs in 1943. • This hierarchy suggests that people are motivated to fulfill basic needs before moving on to other needs. Journal 6: Where do I fit right now? Where do you currently fit on Maslov’s Hierarchy? Why? To what do you attribute your position? Journal 7: Group Analysis 1. In groups of four, analyze the first 5 chapters of A Long Way Gone to determine what Ishmael lost due to the war. 2. In your journals, draw a new pyramid and place the items Ishmael lost due to war into the hierarchy of needs, labeling them appropriately. 3. Identify which level on Maslov’s Hierarchy Beah is in at the end of Chapter 5. 4. Are people in such a needy state able to remain humane? Why or why not. Journal 8: Nightmares 1. Read the opening paragraphs of Chapter 2. 2. Annotate how Beah develops his nightmare using specific detail. 3. What phrases were most provocative? Why? 4. Describe a recent or common nightmare you have. Journal 9: Childhood Places A Childhood Place: Describe in a full page some place that seemed mysterious, exotic, or fearful to you. Concentrate on creating the same impression on your reader by a careful selection of sensory details that recreate the setting. Help us recognize what was special about this place. Or make up a fantasy place that has these qualities…just describe it well enough for us to believe in it too. Chart for “State of the World” Groups for each novel/memoir/play Using the book at each station, find the evidence to help you answer the questions Discuss the questions together and then complete the chart using your own ideas Journal 10: Mentors Mentor furnishes hero with important skills and advice. May appear at important moments to help hero get over an obstacle, then disappear. Typical mentors are old and wise. The act of giving reminds us of the generosity to which we must aspire. The receiving of the gift may well be seen as reward for courage and self-sacrifice. Journal 10: Mentors In Chapters 6-8, Beah describes many experiences where the villagers do not trust the younger boys. The rebels have created an environment where very few people are willing to mentor the younger generation for fear of their lives. What important traditions or cultural shifts do you anticipate will change due to this factor? Prompt: Choose an important mentor (someone from an older generation) and describe the impact that this person has had on your life. Explain what your life is like because of their influence and describe what you think you would lose without their input. Journal 11: “My Own Worst Enemy” • Read the first couple paragraphs of Chapter 10. • Describe an experience where you know you were working as your own worst enemy. • What were the circumstances? • What was the outcome? • Take an objective look at your emotions during this point in time and analyze how your impression of things clouded your choices. Journal 12: Pathetic Fallacy • • • • Beah is very good at using pathetic fallacy • the presentation of inanimate objects in nature as possessing human feelings • Find at least one example from your annotations today and discuss its impact in your groups What do you think really saved the boys at the end of Chapter 9? How are Beah’s cassette tapes involved? How difficult was it to realize he was so close to be reunited with his family only to learn that they were killed by the rebels? Why do you think he reacts to Gasemu’s death as he does? Group work for Chapters 12-14 1. 2. 3. Review your annotations from chapters 12-14 and select a few examples which identify how the boys were desensitized to violence. What type of persuasion was used? How was it effective? Compare and contrast these examples with the previous texts that we’ve read. Where do you see similarities in the military’s attempts to create the perfect soldier? Consider Wiesel’s memoir, Bradbury’s descriptions of a society focused on “happiness,” Remarque’s descriptions of “the enemy”, Martel’s descriptions of survival, and other sources. Look for patterns as you make your connections and highlight broad categories that you uncover. Journal 13: Forgiveness How do you define forgiveness? What experience do you have with it? Describe the circumstances and how you have lived with the outcome. Journal 14: Shooting the Monkey Read the last two pages of the novel. What do you think about Beah’s answer to the story about shooting the monkey? How would you answer? What is the larger meaning of this story. Why does Beah choose to end the book with it?