Study Guide

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier Chapter 13

By Ishmael Beah

Chapter 13

  • Once the new recruits finish their training, it's time to go out and fight the enemy. Most of the boys don't realize what's happening, but Ishmael has a feeling this is it. He's complexly freaked out.
  • Two seven-year-old boys—Sheku and Josiah—hang out by Ishmael. Sheku has taken too much ammunition in his backpack and he falls over. This kid can barely carry his AK-47. Another reason why you don't give children guns.
  • Another soldier comes up to Ishmael and his friends and gives them water and a white pill to take. He tells the boys it will help them keep their energy up while they're out fighting.
  • The boy soldiers head out into the forest and pretty soon, they're shooting at a group of rebel fighters. Some of the rebels are the same age as Ishmael.
  • The battle is total chaos and Ishmael is horrified and frozen at the same time. Josiah is killed by a rocket-propelled grenade and Ishmael watches him die. Musa appears to be dead as well.
  • Lieutenant Jabati screams at Ishmael to get down and start shooting. And that's exactly what he does.
  • He says it's like an out-of-body experience. All he can think of are his dead friends as he releases a hail of bullets on the rebels.
  • He kills a man. He kills a whole lot of people. He's furious.
  • Once the fighting dies down, Ishmael and the other soldiers go check out the rebel dead. Ishmael isn't afraid of their bodies anymore. He kicks at them. One dead boy is wearing a Tupac Shakur t-shirt.
  • Back in the village, Ishmael is just numb. He can't eat anything. Or think anything. He skins his knee and doesn't feel anything either.
  • That night, he dreams that he's picking up Josiah's body when he sees a gunman standing next to him. He wakes up and he's actually firing the AK-47 that was in his arms when he fell asleep inside his tent.
  • The lieutenant gives Ishmael a few more of those white pills, but he still can't sleep.
  • That week, the boy soldiers go out two more times and Ishmael never has trouble firing his gun.

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