An Ongoing Theme of Child Manipulation in A Long Way Gone

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The physical surroundings of Ishmael Beah during the war manipulated his moral traits causing him to become amoral. During Beah’s time in war, his army instructor repeatedly told him to “ visualize the enemy, the rebels who killed your parents, your family, and those who are responsible for everything that has happened to you’... [later on] killing had become as easy as drinking water [for him]” (Beah 112, 122).

Beah is constantly told to feel no mercy towards the rebels and to serve his country with dignity. The army persistently engraving these thoughts into Beah’s head reveals the fact that Beah’s morals are being manipulated. Beah did not have parents present during the war to guide him and to tell him what was right and what was wrong, so the army took the position of his parents. They ignited the want and desire for revenge in Beah and constantly exposed him to hostile conditions where he killed many enemies and foes, since he imagined them as the people who destroyed his life. The army slowly corrupted Beah’s morals until he felt that murdering others was simple, easy and a daily routine. This loss of innocence reinforces the fact that Beah is now amoral since he was blinded by the want and desire for revenge and manipulated by the army to believe that murdering others is not wrong. During the war, Ishmael would walk “for long hours and stopped only to… sniff cocaine, brown brown, and take some white capsules. The combinations of these drugs gave [him] a lot of energy and made [him feel] fierce” (Beah 122).

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As a soldier, Beah took a vast amount of harmful drugs. He recalls that it was normal for brown brown to be everywhere and for children to be using cocaine. There were no responsible adults in his group to tell him that drugs should not be used, and as a result the availability and the acceptance of these drugs in the army obstructed Beah’s morals. The drugs clouded Beah’s ethical reasoning causing him to continue to kill people since the drugs made him feel immortal. In addition, since the army supplied Beah with drugs, this suggests that the army could exploit Beah and make him murder more of their enemies since Beah was addicted to the drugs. This emphasizes the fact that the army and drugs have played a role in deteriorating Beah’s morals.

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