The rebels were emotionless; they went around burning villages and cities, and killing innocent people for absolutely no reason. The book itself is quite graphic, with its description of Beah’s fellow soldiers, but the story in itself is a travesty. The story, an emotional roller coaster, shows that “coming of age, for Ishmael, meant for him to discard his past life with his families and friends in order to fight, and to channel his rage towards the rebels for murdering his family and friends, but he has to do it all himself. Of course Ishmael could not just discard his past life and emotions in just a snap.
He had to learn to do it over time. He loved his family, much like many people do, and it is hard to let go of them if they are lost from a life. When the corporal is telling the soldiers to stab the banana tree, he tells the soldiers to “visualize the banana tree as the enemy ¦ who are responsible for everything that has happened to you (112), which helped Ishmael discard his life. It helped him forget about what his past life was. It helped him focus on the training and fighting, for his parents, even though they were not there anymore. Channeling his rage of his family and friends’ deaths was another thing Ishmael had to do.
It was what would really help him to fight the rebels; the ones who murdered everyone he loved. When the soldiers were stabbing the banana tree, the corporal says repeatedly to “visualize the enemy, the rebels who killed your parents, your family, and those who are responsible for everything that has happened to you (112). After Beah channels his rage, he becomes a mass murderer of the rebels. He kills everyone that he sees that isn’t a part of the government army, for he wants revenge. He channels his rage to Beah wants them to know how it felt when he lost everything important to him.
In the long run, though, this does not help him. He does not trust anyone after he is removed from the army by UNICEF. This emotional roller coaster is amazing, though sometimes it is forgotten that it is a real story, non-fiction, and not a story written for the sole purpose to make one cry. Coming of age can mean different things for different people, though. For some, it might mean to discard his or her past life or channel his or her rage, like it meant for Ishmael. However, Ishmael’s story of tragedy is much different from others’.