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Esther turns the tables on Beah by making it seem that he needs to earn her trust rather than the other way around. Beah responds to her overtures, particularly when she buys him a Walkman cassette player and rap tapes. She keeps the player and tapes in her office so that the other boys will not attempt to take it from him, offering Beah an open invitation to come in to listen any time.
Beah eventually opens up to Esther and recounts his experience being ambushed by rebels in the forest.
In the UNICEF compound, Beah finally begins to trust someone. He had learned through hard experience that circumstances would collaborate to cause him harm; even in the military, where he learned comradeship through blood spilled, Beah found that he could be betrayed: “People like the lieutenant, whom I had obeyed and trusted, had made me question trusting anyone, especially adults” (p. 153). When even a man who held others’ lives in his hands could turn traitor (by sending Beah with the UNICEF workers), there was no one left in Beah’s world to confide in. He has learned that “people befriended only to exploit one another” (p. 153).
Esther manages to overcome this barrier through a combination of reverse psychology and patience. She challenges Beah to earn her trust, rather than offering to earn his; she also waits for him to be ready to talk, rather than insisting he answer her questions. Her knowledge of his pre-war interests (gleaned from the questionnaires the boys answered in class) allow her build a bridge to Beah - one which eventually allows him to speak plainly to her.