Study Guide

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier Chapter 9

By Ishmael Beah

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Chapter 9

  • One morning, the boys hear some weird sounds like rolling thunder. Finally, they figure it out—they've reached the Atlantic Ocean.
  • They've never seen the ocean before, so they celebrate a little and take some time to relax. Even during a war, the ocean is a great place to relax.
  • The next morning, the boys start to walk along the beach and come to an abandoned village.
  • It just looks abandoned. The people who live there are actually lying in wait for the boys. They tie them up, question them, steal their shoes, and chase them out of the village.
  • The boys think they've gotten away pretty easily until they realize how awful it feels to walk on hot sand with bare feet. It's like walking on hot tar. But there's nowhere the boys can go and they're forced to walk until sunset.
  • They're totally in pain and their feet are torn to pieces by the time they come across a little hut in the sand. Inside there's a fire going, so they head in.
  • Pretty soon, the owner of the hut comes by. But he doesn't kick the boys out. Instead, he feeds them and gives them medicine for their feet.
  • They stay about a week, though the man refuses to tell them his name—it's safer that way. Finally, the man's mother runs to tell the boys that the villagers who sent them away have discovered they're living in the hut and are coming for them.
  • Ishmael and his friends aren't quick enough and they're recaptured. The villagers bring the boys to see the village chief. He's not sure these kids are telling the truth about having walked from Mattru Jong and all these war atrocities. It sounds pretty far-fetched.
  • He orders the boys undressed and plans on drowning them in the ocean. But as Ishmael is being undressed, his Naughty by Nature tape falls out again. The chief is interested.
  • Ishmael tells him about rap music and how he and his friends would sing and dance to it. Then the chief tells Ishmael to dance for him.
  • Ishmael dances, but his heart's not really in it. Dancing for your life isn't really an enjoyable activity.
  • It works. The chief lets them go and the boys hightail it out of town as fast as they can. Saved by hip hop again.

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