Study Guide

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier Chapter 12

By Ishmael Beah

Chapter 12

  • The boys walk on for days until they finally come across two men who point guns in their faces. Turns out the men are government soldiers and they'd just shot some rebels. Okay, nothing to worry about we guess…
  • The sight of the bodies sickens Ishmael, but the soldiers tell him he'll get used to it.
  • Finally, they've arrived in Yele and Ishmael feels safe there for a while. The government soldiers are protecting the village, so the people feel free to work and play and enjoy life as much as they can. It's a good time. For a war, that is.
  • One morning, things suddenly take a scary turn. The soldiers are freaking out a little. Lieutenant Jabati—their commander—is trying to prep them for a fight and the village people are curious about what's going on.
  • Later, Lieutenant Jabati shows Ishmael a book he's reading—it's Shakespeare—and Ishmael remembers how he used to recite monologues from Shakespeare's plays for the people in his village. Those were the days.
  • The soldiers head out to fight in the forests around the village, but not all of them are coming back. The situation is getting pretty bad.
  • Finally, the lieutenant has to address the people in town. He tells the women they can cook for everyone, but men and boys are gonna have to fight. That means Ishmael and his friends will have to join the army. It's that or they need to leave town.
  • The guys in town start training. They learn how to fight and kill rebels. It's a quick training, but it's at least a little bit effective. Ishmael notices boys as young as seven years old training.
  • As he trains these new recruits, the lieutenant is sure to emphasize how monstrous the rebels are and how they deserve to die. After all, these are the people that killed their families and parents. Don't they deserve to be shot in the head?
  • At the end of the training, each of the new fighters is given their own AK-47. Ishmael is terrified by this, but he's also ready to fight these bad guys.
  • He keeps picturing the rebels out there killing people—the ones that attacked his family and maybe killed them, too. He thinks about locking them in a house and watching it burn, and the thought makes him laugh. Stupid rebels.

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