Summary and Analysis Chapter 6



Because Ishmael and his friends travel as a band of young boys, they are often feared by local villagers, so the boys stick to the bushes and try to avoid the towns. Once, they are captured by a group of men who are volunteer guards for their village and are brought before the village council. Because they have no identifying information, the chief threatens to have them drowned. They find a cassette tape of rap music in Ishmael's pocket and play it for the council. The foreignness of the song makes them even more suspicious of the group. They are saved when a young boy from Mattru Jong remembers their rap group's performance and is able to name Ishmael, Junior, and their friends. Once the chief knows that they aren't rebels, he offers them shelter and food, but the group decides to move on because they know that attacks on all the villages are imminent.

During their travels, the boys meet a woman who tells them that Gibrilla's aunt is in a village called Kamator, and they decide to seek shelter there. They arrive in time to be part of the planting season and are given the job of clearing the land. They farm with the villagers for three months before the rebels arrive and they are forced to abandon the land without ever seeing the fruits of their labor. During the attack, the group is separated, and Ishmael never sees Junior again.


This chapter reveals a breakdown in trust among the villagers that had been a strong bond before the war. Ishmael, Junior, and their friends agree to stay together, but they realize that their grouping as six young men frightens the villagers that they encounter. There were rumors of bands of boys sent by the rebels to kill and terrorize the villages. Before the war, their group would have been taken in by any village, fed, and cared for, but due to the fear of attacks, Ishmael, Junior, and their friends are shunned. Strangers have become immediate enemies, and even people who knew each other before the war are cautious with each other now.

While relating the details of the farming in Kamator, Ishmael flashes back to a time before the war when Ishmael had visited his grandmother during harvest season. He was given the easy task of pouring wine on the soil to thank the ancestors for the harvest. Because Junior and Ishmael's parents were separated and they lacked a mother at home, they were treated as misfits and pitied by the local community. The feeling of being an outsider without a true place returns to Ishmael during their three months in Kamator. The flashback also serves to reinforce the bond that existed between Ishmael and his brother before they were torn apart by the war.