Beah pays a lot of attention to the natural world. How does he incorporate references to or descriptions of nature into his narrative?

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wshoe eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In A Long Way Gone, Ishmael Beah devotes significant attention to nature.  He has been taught to pay attention to nature and to learn from it.

He has grown up hearing his elders tell him that people should try to be like the moon because no one complains about it.  The moon doesn't make people uncomfortable with its heat as the sun does, and it casts a helpful light for others.  This is a peaceful image that is shattered when Beah is forced to learn to survive in extreme violence. This quote is especially important because it reveals that violence is not what Beah considers the natural state of his world.  

As his story progresses he often refers to nature to show how unnatural the violence is.  Beah describes the sky as weeping stars because of the violence.  At one point he is hiding in the forest and is unable to see the sky for the branches.  The sky has always given him peace, and the trees are actually personified to show that they are in a sorrowful state because of the violence that is occurring. He says the trees appear to be "bowing their heads in prayer" (119). 

The violent loss of his family, and of his childhood, are beyond the natural order of the world.  His nature references reveal the hope that he still has throughout his ordeal and serves as a reminder of the life he once enjoyed.