The story “The Making and Unmaking of a Child Solider” is an insightful look into the life of a child drawn into the horror of war, yet still managing to survive. Throughout the story you see several examples of how a child evolves in spite of adversity and violence. At 12 years old children should be playing sports and living fun, healthy lives. This is opposite of Beah’s childhood experience. It is difficult for one to imagine the fear that would cripple a child when war is brought to their front door.
Beah was just a child when he had to experience the devastation of losing his family. How could a 12 year old properly grieve when he is constantly running, hiding, with no money or possessions? The utter feeling of loneliness would be overwhelming for and adult, let alone a child. One could assume that the death and mutilation around him desensitized his value of human life. “Before I shot each man, I looked at him and saw how his eyes gave up hope and steadied before I pull the trigger” (Beah 278).
“I found their somber eyes irritating” (Beah 278).
Beah’s loneliness and grief eventually transformed to anger. Watching his friends die caused his anger to overflow. Consequently, his first kill was complete revenge with no remorse or guilt. Although, to his defense the child soldiers were given drugs and Axson 2 submitted to mind control. The young boys watched movies such as “Rambo” as ways of survival and for killing techniques. So, could this make one wonder if they ever had a sense of right and wrong? Is that sense something humans are inherently born with?
One could suggest that Beah had no choice but to kill; surely, he would have been murdered for trying to escape or rebel. Beah’s visit by U. N. I. C. E. F was a pivotal point in his young life. He did not even recognize his salvation. It seems that he gave up trying to have a better existence. Almost as if he didn’t want to be saved from his life. Could he possibly not know a better life existed? Even when he was not on the battlefield, the hatred and anger overtook him. One quote is particularly chilling “we needed the violence to cheer us” (Beah 274).
It is heartbreaking that a child could be so damaged. When going through withdrawals, Beah was defiant and rebellious. That is typical behavior of any child. It appears that even though Beah was taught to be a violent killer, he was still just a boy. It is intriguing that he experienced very little fear or any other emotion when killing; however, he was terrified in his dreams. Maybe, this is to detach himself from his unwanted reality? A child’s subconscious is a powerful thing. Beah’s interaction with Ester is his first attempt at trust since the death of his family.
It is possible that the bond between the two formed due to Ester actually treating him like a child, not an adult. She became his temporary sister. Ester offering Beah a walkman was a way to reveal the boy in him. She also offered popular rap music that boys his age would enjoy. Ester was the first person since he left home to show him empathy. She spent time with him and allowed him to release Axson 3 some of the hatred he had been holding onto. While it was wonderful for Beah to find such a connection, one has to wonder what Ester’s motivation was.
Beah clearly needed someone to help with the loneliness that began when he left home, but was Ester doing it as a job? The story infers that her attachment was more than a duty considering she allowed Beah to come to her home. Even though they never saw each other after that day, it is clear that she made a massive impact on Beah’s life. In spite of all the adversity that Beah faced, the child in him still remained. It is obvious that small parts of the boy he was before the war still existed. Ester helped Beah discover that behind the violence and hatred was still love and compassion.
Cite this The Making and Unmaking of a Child Soilder
The Making and Unmaking of a Child Soilder. (2017, Mar 20). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-making-and-unmaking-of-a-child-soilder/