Study Guide

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier Chapter 15

By Ishmael Beah

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Chapter 15

  • Ishmael spends the next two years with the army, killing and fighting. By the time he's 15, his heart is totally frozen solid. He doesn't feel anything for anyone. Not good.
  • In January of 1996, Ishmael and some other boys in his squad head to a small town called Bauya. He runs into Jumah and Kanei and Lieutenant Jabati.
  • The morning after they arrive, a UNICEF truck pulls up and two guys who look like they definitely haven't done any fighting get out and talk to the lieutenant.
  • The lieutenant tells the boy soldiers to line up and chooses fifteen of the them to step forward. He tells them that their time with the army is over. They can turn in their weapons and go with these nice men to live normal lives. Huh?
  • Ishmael doesn't get it. Why is the lieutenant letting them go? Aren't they good fighters? He thought they'd keep going until the war was over.
  • Ishmael and Alhaji and the others climb into the back of a truck. After a few hours of driving, the arrive in Sierra Leone's capital city, Freetown.
  • They pull into a fenced-in compound where there are rows of houses and lots of other boys around their age. The boys are given new clothes and bedding and food to eat.
  • Okay, but Ishmael still does not get why they're here. Plus, the drugs he did the night before are starting to wear off a little. Can he score some more brown brown while he's there?
  • Inside the compound, Ishmael and the other boys in the dining hall start fighting with each other. They only calm down when they realize that they all fought for the army and they've all been sent here by their commanders.
  • Then they start to get angry. Why are they with all these "sissy civilians"? What gives? They rush outside to get some answers. Some of the boys, Ishmael including, have managed to smuggle in some weapons, too.
  • This is a bad thing because outside they see another group of boys standing around and find out that these guys fought for the rebels. A huge brawl starts.
  • The UNICEF military police are able to break up the fight, but six boys are killed and others are wounded. Everyone feels better once they've got a little fight out of them.
  • The army boys are loaded into another vehicle and taken to another rehabilitation center in nearby Kissy Town. This time, the MP's search them.
  • The MPs finally realize these kids are sort of killing machines. 
  • They're also high and starting to go through withdrawal symptoms. It's a very bad combination.

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