A Long Way Gone Chapters 16-17 Response
All through chapter 16 I had lost all respect for Ishmael and the other boys. They are such jerks to the staff at the rehabilitation center who are just trying to help them. I hate that the boys beat the hospital staff until they have to be hospitalized just for wanting to hear their war stories. To me, it is almost like they are ungrateful to have someone trying to help. However, at the same time, I try to understand that they were just taken from the war and they must be pretty messed up from all the drugs and brainwashing. My attitude toward the boys lightens up toward the end of chapter 17 when Ishmael finally starts to open up to Esther, one of the staff members.
I think Esther is a really kind and understanding person, and I like her character. Even when Ishmael throws the cassette at her, she does not get angry or discouraged. She just tells him, “It’s not your fault”. She is also very playful with Ishmael which I think is getting him to open up to her and be more comfortable sharing his stories. Esther has a kind of “mothering” personality which really shows when she buys Ishmael and Alhaji Coca-Cola and soccer jerseys to get their minds off of the war memories.
One passage that stands out to me is, “We became angry and went to look for Poppay…We unleashed blows on him. One of the boys stabbed his foot and he fell down. He put his hands over his head as we kicked him relentlessly and left him lying on the floor bleeding and unconscious” (Beah 140). This is one of the instances that makes me “angry” with the boys. Poppay literally did nothing to them and they just beat him until he was unconscious. I understand that they are just looking for violence because that is what they were used to in the war. However, I don’t understand why they have to send a man to the hospital. Can’t they just beat a pillow or a wall or something?