“That night for the first time in my life”, writes Ishmael in Chapter 3, “I realized that it is the physical presence of people and their spirits that gives a town a life” (p.22). What prompts him to observe this?
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Ishmael realized this after news came to Mattru Jong that the rebels were on their way and expected to be welcomed. The villagers fled into the forest, but Ishmael and his friends stayed behind at the request of Khalilou’s family, who wished the boys to follow with their personal possessions if things in the village didn't improve. Ishmael makes the comment above after the boys have been left behind.... they were the only ones left in the village. This was the moment that Ishmael knew the life of a village is found in the villagers. It's people that make a community.
A Long Way Gone