Sunday, February 14, 2016

Journal 5 - Chapter 16 - Changes - Written by Andy

    Chapter 16 in A Long Way Gone continues Ishmael Beah's story of his time spent with UNICEF during his transition from child soldier back to civilian in society.  Ishmael discusses his anger, lack of power, confinement, withdrawal symptoms and flashbacks of horrific acts he committed as well as endured.  Ishmael illustrates to us moments of his life that seem to be the most traumatic during his time at war in which I feel is his way of clearing his conscience.  I am selecting the theme of changes due to his experiences of slowly adapting to his new surroundings.

    Changes relate to every character in the book.  These changes have been major for most of the lives discussed so far, but some are minor changes, and not as much of a life-changing impact overall.  Examples of positive change in chapter 16 first include Ishmael's surroundings.  He is no longer in an environment in which he needs to kill and fight to protect himself.  He has medical aid available to him as well as trained employees that want to help him, as well as the others, achieve a stable state of mind in which each of them can become a functional member of "normal" society.  The most negative changes discussed in chapter 16 would be the casualties of war, especially those who were tortured during their last moments of life.
    Other changes were Ishmael's withdrawal issues from the lack of drug use during his time under the care of UNICEF.  His description of "My hands had begun to shake uncontrollably and my migraines had returned with a vengeance.  It was as if a blacksmith had an anvil in my head.  I would hear and feel the hammering of metal in my head, and these unbearable sharp sounds made my veins and muscles sour.  I cringed and rolled around on the floor by my bed or sometimes on the verandah.  No one paid attention, as everyone was busy going through their own withdrawal stages in different ways." (Ishmael Beah 140) is very vivid and you can almost feel his pain of his body changing back from what it had relied on for quite some time.

    As I briefly touched on in this journal entry, changes can be both good and bad.  Most of the time changes are controlled by you.  Each day you face different changes and you can sculpt them to create a positive or negative output.  It all comes down to your attitude and outlook on life.  Ishmael obviously was put in a much different situation in Sierra Leone compared to our current lives, especially when we were his age.

The photograph above, taken by Lincoln Harrison, is a time-lapse photo of stars in the night sky.  I selected this photo due to it's illustration of changes through time.  The movement of the earth, brightness of the stars, the overall aging of the various trees as well as the aging of the building.  Changes are always occurring. They never end.

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