Study Guide: A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah: Book Summary|
A LONG WAY GONE: CHAPTER NOTES DOWNLOAD - ISHMAEL BEAH
They ride in the UNICEF truck for hours and go through many checkpoints. Throughout the ride, Ishmael is amazed by the city soldiers who have no clue as to what’s really happening in the bushes in the entire country. Soon, Ishmael becomes aware that they are in Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital, but he still doesn’t know why. They enter a fenced-in compound that has several rows of houses whose verandas are filled with boys their age. They are taken to one of these houses and given beds and clean clothes. This is followed with bowls of rice that they gobble down. New boys soon enter the kitchen and Ishmael knows they are real soldiers, because he can smell the forest on them.
At this point, the boys begin looking for anyone who might have drugs. Then, Alhaji asks where the new boys are from. These ones take offense at the question. When they become belligerent, Ishmael takes out his grenade and asks the question again. This time they get an answer and also learn that the new boys are soldiers and not rebels. None of them know why their commanders had let them go. Ishmael turns to the kitchen worker and demands in a threatening manner if he knows why their commanders gave them up, but the man knows nothing. They decide to ask the other boys sitting on the veranda, but, unfortunately, their questions elicit belligerent responses. These boys are rebels and soon, threats break out as well as hidden bayonets. Ishmael thinks that “perhaps the naïve foreigners thought that removing them from the war would lessen their hatred for the RUF. It hadn’t crossed their minds that a change of environment wouldn’t immediately make them normal boys; they are dangerous and brainwashed to kill.” It turns into an all out fight to the death between the two factions. When the MPs and two nationals who had brought them there try to break it up, the boys pounce on them. It takes many more MPs to quell the battle and when it’s over, there are six dead and several wounded. However, the boys praise each other for their lethal behavior. They needed the violence to cheer them after a whole day of boring traveling and contemplation about why their superiors had let them go.
After this event, Ishmael and his friends are taken to Benin House, another rehabilitation center away from the rest of the city. That night, Ishmael begins to experience withdrawal from the drugs. He walks back and forth on the verandah and once again, his head begins to hurt.
Obviously, UNICEF has stepped into the war with the intent of rehabilitating
these child warriors. Unfortunately, it’s just as obvious that they are
brainwashed to kill and making them normal boys again will be
a terribly difficult task.
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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on A Long Way Gone".
. 09 May 2017