A Long Way Gone

Why were the boys violent toward their counselors?

why was the boys violent toward their counselors?

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On the whole, the boys keep up an air of indifference to the medical and relief workers who attempt to care for them. They suffer drug withdrawals that lead them to steal medicine from the infirmary and reduce them to powder, but the drugs do not have the desired effect. The boys’ violence is barely contained, sometimes spilling out into the neighborhood and often directed by the boys against one another.

The boys undertake a silent protest by dragging their mattresses outside each night to sleep in the open. Each day, the UNICEF workers return their mattresses to their bed frames; then the boys drag them outside again. One night it rains and the mattresses are left out in the sun to dry. When the boys ask why their mattresses are not on their beds, the workers respond that they must wait until the mattresses are dry to bring them in.

When the boys hurt the UNICEF workers, the workers respond by smiling patiently and continuing their relief efforts. This frustrates the boys, who want the civilian workers to respect (or fear) them as dangerous soldiers.