A Long Way Gone

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Laura Simms Character Analysis

A workshop leader at the United Nations for former child soldiers who coaches them on the telling their stories. When Beah comes to the UN to make a speech about child soldiers, he meets and becomes close with Simms. When, later, Beah is living in Freetown and it is attacked, she promises to take Beah in once he gets out of the country.

Laura Simms Quotes in A Long Way Gone

The A Long Way Gone quotes below are all either spoken by Laura Simms or refer to Laura Simms . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Children in War Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Farrar, Strauss and Giroux edition of A Long Way Gone published in 2007.
Chapter 20 Quotes

At the end of these long discussions our faces and eyes glittered with hope and the promise of happiness. It seemed we were transforming our suffering as we talked about ways to solve their causes and let them be known to the world.

Related Characters: Ishmael Beah (speaker), Laura Simms , Bah , Dr. Tamba
Page Number: 198
Explanation and Analysis:

In the final chapters of the book, Beah--rescued from his life as a child soldier in the army in Sierra Leone--is taken to be with a United Nations worker named Laura Simms. Laura is leading a workshop program designed to offer aid and comfort to the children who've been forced to fight as soldiers in Sierra Leone. Simms focuses her workshop on communication and expression; she believes that the best way to get past guilt and self-hatred is to express one's feelings clearly and openly (a thesis that lies at the center of Beah's book itself). Beah seems to respond to Laura's methods: he recognizes that he needs to talk to other people about what he went through, rather than trying to deal with his pain on his own.

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I joined the army to avenge the deaths of my family and to survive, but I’ve come to learn that if I am going to take revenge, in that process I will kill another person whose family will want revenge, then revenge and revenge and revenge will never come to an end.

Related Characters: Ishmael Beah (speaker), Laura Simms , Bah , Dr. Tamba
Page Number: 199
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Beah is sent to speak before the United Nations Council about his time as a soldier in the civil war. Beah's teachers give him a prepared speech, which they encourage him to read. And yet Beah prefers to speak for himself, showing that he's learned something from Laura Simms: speaking for oneself is the only way to feel better and accept oneself. In his speech, Beah talks about how the commanders in the army tried to manipulate the child soldiers to kill other people by telling them that they'd be getting revenge for their own families' deaths. In doing so, the military set off an endless cycle of revenge: each death invited another death in vengeance.

Beah's point, taken literally, is that Sierra Leone must break out of the cycle of violence and vengeance and instead use peace and understanding to solve its problems. His point can also be taken more generally, however: all countries (i.e., those represented at the United Nations) should use communication and openness instead of nuclear weapons and guns, and all individual people should learn to forgive and work together instead of rushing into an "eye-for-an-eye" mentality.

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Laura Simms Character Timeline in A Long Way Gone

The timeline below shows where the character Laura Simms appears in A Long Way Gone. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 20
Children in War Theme Icon
The Horror of War Theme Icon
Companionship, Hope, and the Self Theme Icon
Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon
Beah also meets Laura Simms , a woman who works at the United Nations. She promises the children that in... (full context)
Children in War Theme Icon
The Horror of War Theme Icon
Companionship, Hope, and the Self Theme Icon
Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon
Laura Simms accompanies Beah, Bah, and Dr. Tamba back to the airport. The mood in the car... (full context)
Chapter 21
Children in War Theme Icon
The Horror of War Theme Icon
Companionship, Hope, and the Self Theme Icon
Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon
...dies. Understanding there is little left for him in Sierra Leone, Beah manages to call Laura Simms to ask her if he can move to New York. She says yes. But to... (full context)