A Long Way Gone

A Long Way Gone Summary and Analysis of Chapter 7


The rebels attack Kamator, surprising everyone in the village. They go so far as to take the village imam hostage and demand he tell them where in the forest the other villagers are hiding. The imam refuses to answer and is bound and burned to death by the rebels. His body is left in the village square as a warning. Beah escapes into the forest at the first sign of attack. He manages to find Kaloko, but loses Junior in the chaos. Kaloko and Beah return to the village after the attack, but can find none of their friends. The two boys find a family they know and stay with them for two weeks, all the while still unable to find Junior or their friends. Beah reflects on a time earlier in his life, when his father blessed the family’s new home in Mogbwemo. His blessing included a prayer that the family would always stay together; to this prayer a village elder added that they would always be together, because even the dead lived on in the spirit realm. At this memory, Beah begins to weep for his lost family and friends.

For the next few weeks, Beah and Kaloko venture into Kamator every three days to see if anyone has returned to the village; all they see is emptiness and the vulture-picked corpse of the imam. Beah tires of living in fear and decides to head further away to find someplace safe from the RUF. Kaloko is too frightened to leave with him, so Beah sets out on his own. As he leaves the area he finds himself suddenly sorrowful to be totally alone for the first time since the rebel attacks on Mattru Jong. For five days Beah walks alone with no human contact. He sees some animals and learns through trial and error how to gather food to sustain himself. On the sixth day of his sojourn, Beah finds a group of eight people - four boys, two girls, and a man and woman - and approaches them carefully. He addresses the man in both the dialects of Krio and Mende, but receives no response. To his specific request for directions to Bonthe, an island rumored to be safe from the RUF, Beah receives a response from the man in Krio. The man gives him directions, but makes it clear from his face and posture that he wants Beah to move along. Beah continues on his journey.


Beah describes the insidious influence of the RUF on civilians throughout the civil war zone. A twelve year old boy, alone or in a group, is a potential threat to others because he might be an RUF recruit. There is little Beah can do to convince this family otherwise, so he must continue on his way alone. Although Beah has noted the hospitality of villagers in other chapters, here he points out the fear and paranoia that grips those who have lost homes or loved ones to the rebels.

Again Beah uses a flashback to bring poignancy to narrative. At the moment he loses his last connection to his immediate family - his older brother Junior - Beah remembers his father’s earlier dedication and blessing of their family home in Mogbwemo. Beah has already informed the reader that his father and mother are divorced, splitting Beah’s life between their two homes (Mogbwemo and Mattru Jong); now the rebels have taken his father, his extended family, and his brother in succession, leaving him alone in the world. There is bitter irony in his father’s prayer that the family “will always be together” (p. 47) and cold comfort in the village elder’s prayer that they remain together “even in the spirit world” (p. 47). Beah confronts the fact that his best hope for reunion with Junior is in death.