Type of Project
Due Dates: See the Assignment Schedule for Due Dates
General Directions: This essay represents 15% of your semester grade.
In his book A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, Ishmael Beah tells the story of
a young boy growing up in Sierra Leone during a horrible civil war. The war has a
profound impact on Ishmael. The war creates many barriers for Ishmael physically and
emotionally. Survival is a major theme in the book. In a well-organized essay, please
discuss the physical and/or emotional barriers created for Ishmael by the war, and then
discuss how he is able to survive/overcome these barriers.
You may want to structure your essay this way:
Introduction- Obviously, introduce the topic of the essay. You should discuss the book
and its’ author briefly. You need to have a concise open-ended thesis that states your
Body Paragraphs- This is where you will discuss the emotional and physical barriers
that the war creates. Focus each paragraph on a different barrier, for example, hunger,
exposure to violence, loss of loved ones… In the first half of each paragraph explain
HOW the war CREATES the barrier. Then in the second half of each paragraph, explain
HOW he OVERCOMES each barrier.
Conclusion- Revisit your thesis statement. Summarize your key points and relate what
you are writing about to the big picture. Finish with a strong closing statement.
Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab for basic MLA guidelines:
essay. Follow MLA style for Works Cited.
by 11:59pm or you will lose a letter grade. You lose a letter grade if your essay is
not turned in on time. You lose another letter grade for each week it is late.
(TS) During the war in his country, Ishmael Beah is exposed to images that will forever
haunt him. In order to survive these haunting images, Beah goes back to memories of better
times so that these horrible images will not rob him of all of his innocence. (CD) When
Ishmael and his friends are trying to return to their home village, they come across a woman
whose “child had been shot dead as she ran for her life. Luckily for her, the bullet didn’t go
through the baby’s body…The image of that woman and her baby plagued my mind as we
walked back to Mattru Jong” (Beah 13-14). (COM 1) Early on in the book, Beah exposes
some of the most horrible images to the reader. He sees violence like he has never been
exposed to in his life. The most lasting image burned into the reader’s memory is one of a
woman holding her lifeless child who had been shot by rebels. (COM 2) One of the first
barriers Beah encounters in the war is the images of violence he sees all around him. He
describes a family in a van that was shot up by rebels and the father who is left behind to pick
up the pieces. He also describes another man carrying his dead son. These images are
robbing him of his innocence at a very young age. (COM 3) Often times people who
experience violence like this have a hard time dealing with it. They will try to find some
coping mechanism to help get them through all of the violence around them. For a twelve
year old it has to be especially difficult because twelve year olds have not usually developed
the coping mechanisms to deal with this kind of violence. (PT) Fortunately, Beah has the
memories of his childhood to drown out the violent images he sees all around him. Beah tells
the reader “I closed my eyes, and the images from Kabati flashed in my mind. I tried to drive
them out by evoking older memories of Kabati before the war” (15). (COM 1) Kabati was
the village where his grandmother grew up. It is also the village where he saw the woman
with her dead child as he attempted to return home. Unfortunately, at this point in the novel
the only thing that Ishmael Beah associates with his grandmother’s village is death and
suffering. Every time he thinks of that village, he sees that woman holding her dead child.
(COM 2) This is an emotional barrier that he has to find some coping mechanism to deal
with. Beah has had many great memories in his grandmother’s village and he invokes some
of those memories in order to deal with the pain he feels every time he visualizes that woman
holding her dead child. He immediately describes the natural beauty of Kabati and especially
the beauty of the moon. (COM 3) These memories are a good coping mechanism for the
author. By remembering the past, he is able to drown out the horrible images of war. These
memories help him to continue of through all of the violence and death. Without these happy
memories, Beah may have given into the despair that goes along with the depression that
images like this can cause in someone. The memories help him to survive the emotional
barrier this violence creates in his life and help him to keep going. (TRANS) There are some
physical barriers that Ishmael has to survive as well.
ENGL101 Essay 3 Overcoming Barriers Professor Jeremy Fannon