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I think the boys must contend with a civil war going on in their country. Each pack of boys Beah ends up with during his travels becomes an ad hoc family; family becomes situational rather than genetic. But each boy realizes that something irreplaceable has been lost. They wander the country looking for safety. Tribal culture demands that they be welcomed as they travel but many people are weary of traveling boys. They think boys are child soldiers who kill indiscriminately.