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Benefiting from the Benefits
Years ago,Henry Ford stated: " Capital punishment is as fundamentally wrong as a cure for crime as charity is wrong as a cure for poverty." To put it simply, capital punishment for any heinous crime does not make the crime smaller. Nor does it change the mindset of those who commit it. While in both novels, A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah, and Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, explore responses to criminal activity, A Long Way Gone proves that rehabilitation is more beneficial than punishment.
Chinua Achebe narrates the cost of Okonkwo's actions towards a young boy. Okonkwo kills the boy accidentally and is sent off in exile for seven years to his mother's land. Despite the growing possibilities of beginning anew in his potential home, Okonkwo is deeply saddened by this misfortune. He believes it is "like learning to become left handed in old age."(pg113) Pointless. Okonkwo is a man known for his inability to accept change. Regardless of the help given to him, he is still yielded to despair and greatly troubled." (pg 131). This is not the only negative response to the punishment that Okonkwo receives. The most negative response to his new life is when he returns. He finds his home empty, "like a deserted homestead." (169) The society he once knew has changed only a little, but it is enough for Okonkwo to notice. When the missionaries arrive, and Okonkwo publicly kills a messenger, convincing himself that this will drive the "bonds of kinsman ship back into his clan. This did not happen, however. When Okonkwo realized this, he committed suicide. The final and worst
"offense against the Earth. Now, his body is evil, and he will be buried like a dog." (178)
Response to criminal behavior is taken in a different direction with Ishmael Beah. Instead of the outcome of his crimes being exile, or any other harsh punishment, Beah is rehabilitated. Like many other boys, Ishmael is taken to the Benin home where he at first, like Okonkwo, reacts negatively and even violently. Slowly, Ishmael learns to accept change rather than deny it, now that he sees that he is not alone. He has accepted his new life although he is sometimes still hesitant to let himself go, because he still believed in the fragility of happiness." Ishmael soon accepts change completely and understands the damage that is caused by the unbreakable chain known as revenge. Beah supports the idea of rehabilitation over punishment when he says "he believes that children have the resilience to outlive their sufferings, if given a chance. " ( )
Although capital punishment is sometimes a fair and rational decision when faced with certain crimes, victims of the punishment rarely benefit from it. Opposed to the option of rehabilitation, where said subject is given a more positive outlook on their new future. Ishmael Beah is a prime example of the benefits of this option. Therefore, a more beneficial response to criminal activity is rehabilitation.