A Long Way Gone QW 4: Voice

Note: Click here for more information on Quick Writes, the works I respond to, and disclaimers. Mistakes were kept unchanged. Also, spoilers ahead.

Date QW Written: January 29, 2015

Prompt: (TBA)


On the surface, Beah’s memoir seems to be meant for those who want to learn more about the civil war that had happened in Sierra Leone, but I believe Beah did not really hold any true preference for who he wanted as his audience. Beside divulging a true story of the war, Beah sought redemption through his memoir. To help with his guilt he had from being a brutal child soldier, he sought to tell his story and receive the judgement of his audience, regardless of who they may be. 

Beah uses an active voice throughout his story. For example, Beah always says he did something instead of having done something. Using this voice, Beah prevents himself form distancing himself from the past he is retelling. As readers, we get a sense of greater intimacy with the harsh reality of the war, especially when we read about him committing the many atrocious acts. Also, throughout most of the story, Beah uses a matter-of-fact tone to tell his story. His honesty and candidness is what compels readers to truly believe his story and simultaneously give him the untainted judgement he wants. With this tone sitting between the short-lived naive tone at the beginning and the accepting tone at the end, readers get a greater sense of Beah’s growth throught his experience of a lost childhood. 

Ultimately, Beah is an example of the most reliable type of narrators: an honest one who can relay the story from a first-hand account. As humans, it is honesty and the truth that can truly impact people in what they believe. Beah knows this and successfully writes a raw and unself-pitying memoir that affects anyone who has read it. 

Score: 19


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