A Long Way Gone

Pdf fan dd71f526917d6085d66d045bd94fb5b55d02a108dd45d836cbdd4abe2d4c043d Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)
The Moon Symbol Icon
As a boy before the war, Ishmael Beah looks to the moon as a model for good behavior. But the horror of the war brings Beah to believe that the moon is hiding to avoid seeing what is happening, and its role as a model in his life wanes. As the adult narrating the book, Beah notes that he can again look at the moon and remember what it was like to see images in the shapes of the moon, and is pleased to see some of his innocence lives on.

The Moon Quotes in A Long Way Gone

The A Long Way Gone quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Moon. 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 1 Quotes

Whenever I get the chance to observe the moon now, I still see those same images I saw when I was six, and it pleases me to know that part of my childhood is still imbedded in me.

Related Characters: Ishmael Beah (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Moon
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:

Before the war, Beah learns to look up at the moon when he's feeling sad. The moon, at least for Ishmael, is a sign of happiness and peace: there's something comforting about the fact that no matter how bad things are on Earth, the moon will always be exactly the same. Years later (as he describes here), Ishmael will look at the moon with even greater fondness--after his horrible experiences in the civil wars of Sierra Leone, the moon will remind him to put his problems in perspective. Even more importantly, though, the moon reminds Ishmael that the trauma of war hasn't totally destroyed his innocence: there's still a part of him that can enjoy the simple sight of the moon rising in the night. His childhood was twisted and crushed by war, but a small part of it still remains "imbedded" in him.

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other A Long Way Gone quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Chapter 10 Quotes

Under those stars and sky I used to hear stories, but now it seemed as if it was the sky that was telling us a story as its stars fell, violently colliding with each other. The moon hid behind clouds to avoid seeing what was happening.

Related Characters: Ishmael Beah (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Moon
Page Number: 80
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Beah describes the moon again, but in a very different context than before. While before the moon was open and inviting, a symbol of the peacefulness of nature, the moon is now hidden away. It's as if the moon can't bear to see what's happening to Sierra Leone--the spectacle of war is too terrible to watch.

There aren't many lyrical passages of this kind in the novel--yet here, Beah uses personification and metaphor to convey the full extent of the crisis in his country. Nature itself has turned its back on Sierra Leone, to the point where the moon--an old symbol of peace and romance--has abandoned Beah when he needs it more than ever.

Get the entire A Long Way Gone LitChart as a printable PDF.
A long way gone.pdf.medium

The Moon Symbol Timeline in A Long Way Gone

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Moon appears in A Long Way Gone. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Children in War Theme Icon
The Horror of War Theme Icon
Companionship, Hope, and the Self Theme Icon
Nature  Theme Icon
...himself from what he has seen, Beah remembers his grandmother’s directive to “be like the moon,” as the moon always makes people happy. Beah has always followed her advice, and as... (full context)
Chapter 3
Children in War Theme Icon
The Horror of War Theme Icon
Companionship, Hope, and the Self Theme Icon
Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon
Nature  Theme Icon
...is scary to Beah, who notices that bird and crickets won’t sing and that the moon isn’t in the sky. But the rebels don’t arrive when they say they will, and... (full context)
Chapter 10
Children in War Theme Icon
The Horror of War Theme Icon
Companionship, Hope, and the Self Theme Icon
Nature  Theme Icon
Beah looks upon the moon one night, noticing how it is often covered by clouds, but continues to shine all... (full context)
Children in War Theme Icon
The Horror of War Theme Icon
Nature  Theme Icon
Beah says that the moon followed them at night, but that it also hid at night behind clouds so it... (full context)
Chapter 11
Children in War Theme Icon
The Horror of War Theme Icon
Companionship, Hope, and the Self Theme Icon
Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon
Nature  Theme Icon
...run for hours with Gasemu’s encouragement, which continues to enrage Beah. Beah says that the moon disappeared and made the sky cry, which saved him from the bullets. When they finally... (full context)
Chapter 12
Children in War Theme Icon
The Horror of War Theme Icon
Companionship, Hope, and the Self Theme Icon
Nature  Theme Icon
...go off to fight, and the boys can hear the gunfire in the distance. The moon shows its face in Beah’s window, and no one is at play. (full context)