Summary and Analysis Chapter 3



Ishmael, Junior, and Talloi remain in Mattru Jong with their friends, Kaloko, Gibrilla, and Khalilou. They still haven't heard from their families and do not know if anyone survived the rebels' attack on their village. A messenger arrives from the town of Sumbuya, the site of the most recent massacre. The rebels have carved the initials RUF (Revolutionary United Front) with a hot bayonet on the messenger's body. The messenger reports that the rebels will be arriving in Mattru Jong soon and they expect to be welcomed since they claim to fight for the people. Most of the village goes into hiding, but after ten days without the rebels arriving, life returns to normal. Five days later, the rebels attack; Ishmael and his friends escape.


The theme of terror continues in this chapter. When Ishmael and his friends flee the village, they must run for hours with the rebels chasing and shooting after them. The terror of being caught and conscripted against their will into the rebel's army fuels the adrenaline necessary for their escape.

The chaos of war is also revealed through the confusion during the attack. Villagers trying to flee run the wrong way, directly into the guns of the rebels. Many villagers run into the stream and drown themselves. Ishmael and his friends are paralyzed with indecision and choose to run in the direction with the least gunfire. The chaos and uncertainty of their daily existence while waiting for the rebels' arrival adds to the terror of living in a civil war. Through Ishmael's experience, the reader sees how innocent villagers caught between the government's soldiers (who run away as soon as the rebels arrive) and the rebels have nothing else to do but flee.

We also see the bonds between Ishmael, his brother, and their four friends. As they flee the village, Junior repeatedly calls back to Ishmael to make sure he is safe. Although each boy must run for himself, they stick together to increase the odds of survival.