Independence In The Bite Of The Mango And A Long Way Gone

1675 words - 7 pages

When growing up, family is always there for one another with unconditional love. They will do anything for each other, and throughout their lives they look to family for support and advice. This is not said for Ishmael Beah in A Long Way Gone. He was never in an idealistic “picture perfect” family because of his parents living in different villages through most of his life. The feeling of loneliness and independence was not new to him. Contrasting Beah, Mariatu Kamara, from A Bite of the Mango, has a very healthy and intimate relationship with everyone in her village. “It was common in my country for children in the rural areas to be raised by people other than their birth parents” (Kamara 13). They all act as if they were in her immediate family and furthermore she depends on them immensely. Beah and Mariatu were both children heavily involved in the war, being forced to face their countries problems that were not theirs to begin with. “The war in Sierra Leone has its origins in a long history of corrupt and predatory civilian and military governments that set the stage for a decade-long insurrection, destroyed state institutions, and left the country vulnerable to external manipulation” (Rice 1). While fighting the emotional and physical struggles throughout the war, Mariatu is firmly attached to her family indefinitely, while Beah has the advantage of independence; this is more fit for survival.
Although, it is a relief that Mariatu was lucky enough to have her family with her through most of her journey, she depended on them far too much. It seemed as though whenever they were gone her emotions became overwhelmingly unstable. She trusted people she should not have, because that was the nature of family and how people were once treated in her village. Consistent assistance did not benefit her in the end. She could no longer fend for own being and when put in a predicament, she always turned for help before trying to solve the problem herself. When there was no one to turn too, she became helpless and at a low point in her life. Before she has her child, her family is there frequently, but when the child is conceived, no one is there to help. She did not know how to get herself out of the situation she was in, and it caused her and her child to suffer. She was lucky to get out of all she went through.
On the other hand, Beah has the advantage over Mariatu due to his early independence and the willingness to mature quickly. After the attack on his village, he wanted to get out and find a new life. On his own, he went pretty far before being captured. Even when he was in rehabilitation and resisted everything put in front of him, he could help but feel like he wanted to be a child again. He was almost too good at hiding his feelings, like an adult would do. His independence helps him through the everyday soldier life; also paired with the drugs and medications the commanders force him to take. His mother and father being separated created a...

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