Summary and Analysis Chapter 18



Observers from the UN, UNICEF, and several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) arrive to see the rehabilitation center, and the boys put on a talent show. Ishmael recites a monologue from Shakespeare and performs rap and dance. The center's directors are so impressed that they ask if he'll become a spokesperson for the center. Ishmael decides that rehabilitation is possible and declares that children are strong enough to overcome what's happened to them in times of war, if they are given an opportunity to do so.

Leslie, Ishmael's case worker, finds Ishmael's Uncle Tommy, whom he's never met. Tommy visits Ishmael at the center and calls him his son now. He embraces him and promises him a place to live and welcomes him to his family. Ishmael is hesitant at first, but Tommy's sincerity and emotions win him over. Tommy begins visiting on the weekends and, during their walks, Ishmael tells him about good times before the war. Finally, Tommy takes him to visit his new family, and Ishmael begins learning even more about his father and his past.


Ishmael's rehabilitation is fueled by hope in this chapter. He begins reaching out to his uncle and accepting the future he's offering. He feels fortunate to have found family he didn't know he had, and their kindness connects him with the happy childhood that was stolen from him. Ishmael seems more stable now, and his violence and anger are subsiding.

Even in times of desperation, horrible violence, and struggle, love and compassion exist. Ishmael is saved from his past by this theme of love prevailing against all odds. As a soldier, he survived because of his army family. At the rehabilitation center, Ishmael finds friendship and love from Esther and finally from his Uncle Tommy. This theme will continue for the rest of Ishmael's journey to survive and escape Sierra Leone.