Study Guide

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier Chapter 3

By Ishmael Beah

Chapter 3

  • Back in Mattru Jong, Ishmael, Junior, and Talloi stay with the family of their friend, Khalilou.
  • They're still in a lot of danger. The rebels send a message that the village will be attacked very soon.
  • The messenger is a man who's been mutilated by the rebels. They've burned the initials RUF (Revolutionary United Front) on his body and cut off all of his fingers except his thumbs. Yeah. They're awful.
  • Ishmael goes into hiding with Khalilou's family for about a week, but the rebels don't come.
  • The people of the village come back to their homes and another message arrives—this time the rebels are going to attack for sure.
  • But fifteen days pass and nothing happens. Maybe they're not coming after all? Things are probably gonna be just fine.
  • Um, no.
  • When the rebels finally arrive, no one's ready. Ishmael's preparing dinner and he and his friends hear a few gunshots. Then some more. Then all they can hear is guns blazing.
  • It's mass panic. Everyone runs. Parents are separated from their children. Ishmael and his friends head to where the local soldiers are stationed to protect the village, but they've abandoned their post.
  • The only way out of town is to cross a muddy swamp. Ishmael, Junior, Talloi, Khalilou, and his other friends, Gibrilla and Kaloko, run for it.
  • Of course, the rebels start chasing the people as they leave town. They'd much rather people hung around once they took over a village.
  • That way, the government will have a harder time coming in to attack them. Basically, the rebels plan to use the villagers as human shields.
  • The six boys are especially frightened because guys their age are automatically recruited to join the rebel army. They would have the initials RUF carved into their bodies and they'd be marked forever, which means they might be shot by a local soldier or some random citizen who thought they were fighting for the rebels.
  • Everyone's running and panicking. There are gunshots and blood and bodies everywhere. People get stuck in the mud of the swamp, but no one stops to help them because it would mean both people would die.
  • Once they're out of the swamp, the boys run for about an hour. Finally, the rebels give up and head back to Mattru Jong.

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