A Long Way Gone

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A Long Way Gone Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Beah walk for two days without sleeping, feeling not only that’s he’s being followed, but that even the air might attack him. Mutilated bodies he encounters in abandoned villages haunt him, and he doesn’t even bother to look for food. On the third day Beah climbs into a tree and rests there, and the next morning becomes determined to get out of the forest.
Even nature, which he has so often looked to for comfort, now seems threatening to Beah. He is so worried for his safety and so tired that he can’t even take care of his own sustenance.
Themes
Children in War Theme Icon
The Horror of War Theme Icon
Companionship, Hope, and the Self Theme Icon
Nature  Theme Icon
Beah, however, goes in circles. When he stops, he is haunted again by the images in his head. Beah realizes he is totally lost, and so begins to mark his surroundings so he can at least find his way back to his sleeping spot. His only companion is a snake near a river that he steers clear of.
Just as there appears to be no escaping the horrible things he has seen, there appears to be no way to get out of the forest. Nature not only appears threatening, it is threatening, in the form of the snake, and Beah knows even here, away from war, he must be careful.
Themes
Children in War Theme Icon
The Horror of War Theme Icon
Companionship, Hope, and the Self Theme Icon
Nature  Theme Icon
Beah finds some fruit he’s never seen before that birds are eating, and figures even if it is poisonous, he’s hungry enough to try it. As he eats, Beah remembers a medicinal plant his grandfather gave him that improved memory retention, and to this day, Beah says he has excellent photographic memory. Beah looks around for some other medicinal plants in case the fruit makes him sick, but finds none.
Beah is desperate enough to eat food he’s never even seen before in a strange forest. Beah’s hope that he might find something medicinal in case he get sick is almost casual. He is too tired to be afraid, or he has seen too much.
Themes
Children in War Theme Icon
Companionship, Hope, and the Self Theme Icon
Nature  Theme Icon
Beah’s loneliness only gives him more time with his memories. Beah is even afraid to sleep because of his dreams. Beah continues to try to find his way out of the forest, but in doing so, only gets himself deeper into the forest. He encounters a group of wild pigs. He manages to climb a tree to avoid them, but when he comes down, more appear and chase him. He finally finds a tree to climb, and the pigs give up trying to get to him as night descends.
Beah’s incredible memory is at this point perhaps more a curse than a gift, and coupled with his loneliness, proves to be almost too much. He presses on more to have something to do than to find his way out. Nature, in the form of the wild pigs, is again shown to be just as dangerous as it is beautiful.
Themes
Children in War Theme Icon
The Horror of War Theme Icon
Companionship, Hope, and the Self Theme Icon
Nature  Theme Icon
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Beah gets down and continues walking in the night. He steps on a snake and then runs. His father’s advice: “if you are alive, there is hope for a better day,” carries him through the night. Beah spends a month in the forest before finding people.
Although Beah is alone, the memory of his father here pushes him on when even nature seems to have turned against him.
Themes
Children in War Theme Icon
The Horror of War Theme Icon
Companionship, Hope, and the Self Theme Icon
Nature  Theme Icon
Beah encounters six boys at a junction, three of whom are from Mattru Jong: Alhaji, Musa, and Kanei. The other three are Saidu, Moriba and Jumah. The boys tell Beah that they are heading to a village called Yele to the south, where the army is supposed to be stationed. Beah feels uncomfortable initially around the boys, even terrified, as initially he mistakes them for rebels before he recognizes them.
Beah’s first encounter with people in a month is fraught, and not just because Beah is paranoid. He knows that anyone could be out to get him. Even other children are dangerous, and it’s almost as if Beah is scared by his reflection.
Themes
Children in War Theme Icon
The Horror of War Theme Icon
Companionship, Hope, and the Self Theme Icon
Beah knows it is unsafe to be with such a large group, but is lonely enough that he doesn’t care anymore. They are regularly mistaken for rebels, and Beah says sometimes when this happened they would run after the people who had mistaken them, yelling that they weren’t what the people thought, which, of course, only made them more scared. No one will give them directions.
Beah’s experience with traveling as a group has taught him that no one will trust them, and that people’s first reaction may be to protect themselves by killing the boys. Nor is there much the boys can do to persuade them. Their insistence that they mean no harm aren’t all that different from the rebel’s claims in Mattru Jong that they wanted to be welcomed, after all.
Themes
Children in War Theme Icon
The Horror of War Theme Icon
Companionship, Hope, and the Self Theme Icon
They come upon a village that everyone has abandoned, having heard seven boys are coming. Only an old man who lacks the strength to flee remains. When he sees they don’t mean trouble, the old man remarks on the sad times when boys can’t be welcomed into a village, and then asks the boys to cook him some yams. He seems to understand his time is coming. In return for the cooking, the man gives them directions to Yele.
The only person who comes to trust the boys in their travels is one who cannot run and seems to have accepted death. Although the boys have directions now, the way they have been treated does not bode well for their chances of being accepted elsewhere.
Themes
Children in War Theme Icon
The Horror of War Theme Icon
Companionship, Hope, and the Self Theme Icon