A Long Way Gone

by Ishmael Beah
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What is one quote that conveys a strong image in chapters 14–17 of Moby Dick, and how are Ishmael's behavior and mindset different in these chapters compared to the previous chapters?

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When chapter 14 begins, Ishmael Beah has become a functioning unit within the group of boy soldiers. In large part because he has become addicted to the “white capsules” and is often high on marijuana as well, his mind is clouded. He rarely sleeps and feels either anxious or numb....

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When chapter 14 begins, Ishmael Beah has become a functioning unit within the group of boy soldiers. In large part because he has become addicted to the “white capsules” and is often high on marijuana as well, his mind is clouded. He rarely sleeps and feels either anxious or numb. On the one hand, the boys—spurred on by watching war movies—want to be tough men like Rambo; on the other hand, they merely follow the lieutenant’s orders gives, “no questions asked.” When they set off on the path, they walk until they get more orders. Ishmael’s description of their mental states encapsulates the mood of that period of his life. He uses a simile comparing killing to drinking water, showing that death and life have become mixed up in his mind.

We walked for long hours and stopped only to eat..., sniff cocaine, brown brown, and take some white capsules. The combination of these drugs gave us a lot of energy and made us fierce. The idea of death didn’t cross my mind at all and killing had become as easy as drinking water.

The initial act of killing had made his mind snap, he reflects, and he was not able to feel remorse.

Despite his disorientation, now that he has become a fighter, Ishmael feels better. He equates the rebels they attack in the camps with those who destroyed his family and village. Desire for vengeance motivates him, but he is also using the fighting unit as a family substitute.

I...felt special because I was part of something that took me seriously and I was not running from anyone anymore.

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