A Long Way Gone

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A Long Way Gone Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Beah opens the second chapter as he wheelbarrows a body wrapped in a sheet through the carnage of a recently attacked town. He does not know why he is in the town, or if he is wounded, even though blood is running off of him, and he is carrying a rifle. He feels no pain. When he gets to the cemetery he begins to lose strength, but unwraps the body anyways, to find the body is himself, riddled with bullet holes. Beah awakes in the present from what turns out to have been a dream. He has fallen from his bed onto the floor.
By relating his dream without telling the reader that he is dreaming, Beah gives us a sense of just how inescapable his past is. To Beah, what he has seen and witnessed is always with him as if it were happening right then and there, especially when he is dreaming. The dream itself is horribly surreal, and a metaphor for how war destroys a person: in it, or even how a person in a war destroys himself. After all, in the dream, Beah is burying himself.
Themes
Children in War Theme Icon
The Horror of War Theme Icon
Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon
Beah gets up from the floor. He has been living in New York City for a month. He tries to think about his new life, but cannot escape his memories. He is haunted by a memory of shooting an armed group outside a coffee farm and eating the food they’d been carrying while their bodies bled out. He fears falling back asleep, but does not like being awake either, and cannot wait for the daytime, so he can return to his new life.
Although Beah is now an ocean away from the war and is safe, he is still haunted by what he has seen and done. And now for the first time the reader understands that Beah wasn’t just surrounded by killing; during the war, he was a killer, too. Any time alone, even the precious time when he is sleeping, is dangerous, because it is enough time to be revisited by what he has seen and done. Hi past is not as inescapable as the dream implies, however, as his new life does offer him hope, a future, and allows him a respite from his horrible dreams and memories.
Themes
Children in War Theme Icon
The Horror of War Theme Icon
Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon