NHS Sophomore ISAT Prep (Literature) discussion

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Day to Day > A Long Way Gone: Day 8

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message 1: by Mrs. Reader (last edited Mar 19, 2013 05:26PM) (new)

Mrs. Reader (nhs_sophomore_english) | 9 comments Mod
Day 8

Read chapters 19-21

The structure of the story is in three worlds: past, present, and dreams.
Why do you think the author chose to write the book in this manner as opposed to chronologically?
How do you think it enhanced the story?
What does Beah mean when he writes on page 20 that “these days I live in three worlds: my dreams and the experiences of my new life, which trigger memories from the past”?

If you finish early, use the rest of the time to finish other day’s posts and work in your Packet of Love.


message 2: by Cassie (new)

Cassie | 9 comments Cassie Leitzke
Mrs. Reader
English 3/4
1 April 2013

I think he chose to write it this way because life is too much involved in putting things in order. I think its better to have events than having this happened and then this happened because that would get boring. You want only things that are important that add to the story. He says this because he is trying to set up the structure for the book.

My question: Does anyoen know what he is doing now?


message 3: by Joey (new)

Joey Tran | 8 comments Joey Tran
Mrs. Reader
Sophomore English 4A
1 April 2013

Writing this story in three worlds enhances the story greatly, instead of writing it in chronological order. Chronological order is written in order of events, such as 1st event, 2nd event, 3rd event, etc. Writing in three different worlds adds a mystery in what the author is going to say next. It talks about what happened, what is happening, and what is going to happen later on. It enhances the story by providing the reader with enough information to ask questions and answer them (with proper research). On page 20 it says, “these days I live in three worlds: my dreams and the experiences of my new life, which trigger memories from the past”. I believe it means that he is living now, dreaming and living life how it should be, but it is still affected by what happened during his time he spent in war. His actions will always bring up memories from the past and he is prepared to accept that.

To Cassie Leitzke:
He is "living the experience of his new life".

My Question:
Did you enjoy how the book ended?


message 4: by Kara (new)

Kara | 9 comments Kara Miller
Ms. Richardson
Sophomore English
2 April 2013

I definitely think that the book was more cohesive and was enhanced because Beah choose to write in past, present, and dreams. I think he did this to show us the extent of the effect the war had on him. Not only did it play a major role in his past, but his memories seem to be almost omnipotent to him – in his daily life, even in his dreams. I believe the story is better this way because things will affect you more the 1st time you encounter them.

To Tylan: I think the question posed to those children was very challenging and thought provoking. Personally I can not imagine trying to choose between parents and so I think when you look at it from that angle, there is no right answer. However, I like what Ishmael says on page 218, “I would shoot the monkey so that it would no longer have the chance to put other hunters in the same predicament.” I believe that’s a very smart idea, especially for a 7yr old and is probably the best answer there is. Sacrifice one so others don’t have to choose/sacrifice instead of millions of people dying (figuratively speaking of course).

My Question: Do you think the book ended in the right spot, with that story from Ishmael’s village? If not, where do you think the book should have ended?


message 5: by Brooklyn (new)

Brooklyn | 7 comments Brooklyn Riepma
Mrs. Thompson
Sophomore English 3B
2 April 2013


The story is structured throughout the present, past, and dreams. I believe that this structure makes more sense opposed to being in chronological order. I think that Ishmael made a good choice to structure it this way. He does not randomly place the parts of present, past, and dreams in the story; however, he places them very accordingly. Every time he tells us about a dream, the dream goes along with whatever past or present event is occurring. Each time he talks about the past, it is an important factor for a better understanding of the emotion of what exactly is going on in the present. Adding in the sections of dreams and the past made sure that the whole story tied up and you get to know what Ishmael was truly thinking about at the time.


On page 20, he says “these days I live in three worlds: my dreams and the experiences of my new life, which trigger memories from the past.” He says that one of the worlds he lives in is his dreams, which trigger memories of his past. I think what he means by this is he dreams about the events that occurred to him in his childhood, therefore he keeps thinking about his past. He says that his experiences of his new life also trigger memories from the past. I think this is because he does something in his ‘new life’ that causes him to remember and have flashbacks of what happened to him in his old life. I think that because he is ‘living in three worlds’, he can remember very clearly as to what happened in his childhood.


My question is: Do you think that some of the decisions that Ishmael made during his childhood were based off of the story that was at the very end of the book?


message 6: by Katie (new)

Katie | 7 comments Katie Dickerson
Mrs. Reader
Sophomore English
2 April 2013

I think Beah wrote the book this way because he thought it was the best way to represent his story. Mixing the past and the present, along with dreams, adds a sense of intrigue to the story and helps keep the reader’s attention, as well as explaining things perhaps more in-depth than formatting it chronologically would have.

I think what Beah means when he says “these days I live in three worlds: my dreams and the experiences of my new life, which trigger memories from the past”, is that although he has adjusted to his new life and setting, his past still follows him. Those memories of his brief childhood before the war touched his life are pleasant to think about, but it inevitably brings back memories of the years of violence that followed. However, I think he has recovered enough that he accepts that will probably always be the case, and is able to handle it.

In answer to Tylan’s question: I believe it was the best answer he had considering the circumstances. Either way, he would’ve been hurt, so the answer he gave was really unselfish, and probably the best available.

My question: Do you think Ishmael would choose to forget his memories of his war-torn youth if he could, if it would give him peace of mind? Or do you think he would rather keep them because, good or bad, they have made him the person he is today?


message 7: by Anna-Marie (new)

Anna-Marie Vargas (anna-marie_vargas) | 7 comments Anna-Marie Vargas
Reader
Sophomore English 1A
1 April 2013

I believe that the author chose to write the book in the story structure of the three separate worlds because it helps to enhance the meaning of the story. Although he does write somewhat chronologically, he jumps around quite a bit, and this helps to keep the reader focused on the events of Beah’s life as a boy soldier, but it also keeps them tied in to the present day, and helps them to be able to relate and see how truly horrible it must have been, with the sadness of one’s past invading your dreams and your present life.

By saying that, I believe that Beah means exactly what he says: that as he is continuing to live his new life in the United States, he dreams of his old life, and thus memories from his past are triggered in his mind.

The story ends rather abruptly; I was hoping that Beah would continue the story and tell us the story of how he made it the rest of the way to America. But I think that it is also a good thing, as this helps the reader to focus on the main issue at hand, which is the issue of child soldiers, not on the life of Ishmael Beah. Do you agree or disagree?

In answer to Tylan’s question, I believe that it was a surprisingly selfless answer for a seven-year-old to make. Most seven year olds would simply try to avoid the question as best as they possibly could, just as all the other children did. But Beah thought differently, and was able to come up with a selfless answer to solve the situation that, although sad, would be best for others. It is this mentality that I believe helped him to become himself again, even after all of what happed to him as a child soldier. So yes, I think that young Beah’s answer was the correct one.


message 8: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Pokorney | 7 comments Marissa Pokorney
Ms. Richardson
Sophmore English 1A
3 April, 2013

I think the other chose to right the book like this in order to show flashbacks as well as a bit of foreshadowing. I didn't really like it as much at the end when they were in New York and it was talking about the woman he would eventually be living with. I think that gave a little bit too much away and took away from the shock and the mystery at the end. Instead of wondering if he would make it out alive, you know he will end up in New York. But other than that the flashbacks were very good and detailed, and necessary for the understanding of the situation.

In the quote he is saying that he dreams, living in what has happened, essentially the nightmares, and the good dreams, his hopes for the future. The new life part is just the present, his life in New York. And he is also saying that these things that are new sometimes trigger a memory in his past. Either that being an emotion that is hit or an object.

To answer Katie's question: I think he would choose to keep his memories. Everyone has these little or big problems they have to go through in life, and overcome. And in the end when you overcome it, it transforms you so much, either good or bad. There can be bad solutions to these problems that come up in your life, but if you find a positive way through it the fact that you made it just makes you that much of a stronger person. It really help him grow up. So, I personally think he would keep the memories.

My question: Did you like the book?


message 9: by Krista (new)

Krista Montierth | 7 comments Krista Montierth
Ms. Richardson
Sophomore English A1
7 April 2013

I think that the author chose to write this book in these three worlds because, It makes things more interesting and gives it more mystery. I know that for me it made me think more and ask questions for myself like what he was feeling like at a certain moment, how one event in his life effected another, or what a flashback or dream was foreshadowing in the story. Most books aren't written in this way so it makes it really cool to read something in a new way. How the author provided these dreams made it necessary to picture in your head what was really happening and it made me go deeper into the book and created suspense.
I think that quote on page 20 means that maybe when he's going through his day and he feels a certain emotion or smells a certain scent then it takes him back to other memories and maybe he pauses for a second and thinks about it. Having that big of an experience in his life, no matter what he did after, it would be impossible to forget the feelings he felt. Death is probably one of the most touching things and unforgettable experiences because with death comes great emotion and it can change your life.
To answer Marissa's question, "Did you like the book?" I would say that I loved the book because I like reading things that put pictures in my head and this one definitely did that for me. It also had a lot of emotion and it wasn't boring. My question is: History is known to repeat itself, will something like this ever happen again?


message 10: by Peyton (new)

Peyton Adams | 7 comments Peyton Adams
Mrs. Reader
Sophomore English-1A
7 April 2013

Prompt: The way this is written really is in chronological order, in a hypothetical way, if you consider all the flashbacks he has. He tells the story and leaves some pieces out to be seen later in the book as flashbacks. I think he wants to show how many times he actually thinks about it without repeating parts of the story. It's very effective because after the war is over, you still hear about it, which keeps the reader drawn into the story.

I think what he means by "my dreams, and the experiences of my new life, which trigger memories from the past." is that his memories from his childhood are so overpowering still, that he can live all he wants in his present, but there is no way to avoid triggering memories from his past. He can dream also, but even if he lives them, his childhood memories are still there and will be haunting him forever.

Q: At the very end of the book, my favorite part, he answers the question of the monkey by saying 'I would shoot the monkey so that it would no longer have the chance to put other hunters in the same predicament'. Do you think that by writing this at the end of the book he is trying to tell us that he can remember before the war and he has fully regained all feelings of sorrow, guilt, forgiveness, etc. like before the war?

Marissa: I couldn't get into the book. I like that it's so real and I think it was good for me to read it and understand what it's like to not live in a world where you don't have to worry about that. It wasn't the type of book that I would choose to read and I probably never will. I know the teachers want us all to say that we were hesitant at first, but once we got into we liked it, but I never really enjoyed it. It wasn't about the violence or the horrible story, I just don't like books like this.


message 11: by Kaylee (new)

Kaylee Campbell | 7 comments Kaylee Campbell
Mrs. Reader
Sophomore English 3B
15 April 2013

I feel that Beah not writing in chronological order has helped me to feel more sympathy for him. It made me realize just how lucky I am to not have to go through all those terrible events that Ishmael had to go through at such a young age. Beah most likely wrote in this manner because it really made the reader feel more engaged in the story. I knew that I couldn’t just read it and expect the expected to happen, because he jumped around in terms of timing. His way of writing really intensified the story and made it very exciting and heartbreaking to read.

On page 20 when Beah writes, “these days I live in three worlds: my dreams and the experiences of my new life, which trigger memories from the past”, he is actually saying something with a very deep meaning. His dreams are one part of his life. Another part of his life is his new experiences. He meets these new people all the time, and certain things he comes in contact with spark memories of his old life. For example, in chapter 21 when the government is overthrown and gunmen are everywhere, Ishmael remembers his past. He remembers all the horrible events and experiences he had. I believe that is what drives him to leave the country and start a new life.

My question is: How do you think Ishmael Beah even functioned after having such horrific experiences? Do you think that he will always look over his shoulder and be nervous to even trust people once again?

To Joey: No, I actually did not like how the book ended. It was very sad to me to have more gunmen come and ruin more lives. The only thing I was happy about, however, was that Ishmael was able to escape the country.


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