A Long Way Gone

Chapter Three: 3. Why did the rebels attack the towns so fiercely? What was their goal? Does it make sense to you? (p. 24)

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The surprise at the rebels’ violence - even after repeated warnings that the rebels were approaching - stands out in Beah’s account. He attempts to maintain a regular, everyday pattern of living even as he is maintaining a home for people who have taken shelter in the forest out of fear of the rebels. That Beah and his friends, as both outsiders to Mattru Jong and as young men, are asked to remain behind shows the fear and callousness of the terrified citizens of Mattru Jong.

The rebels’ tactics are described in detail, giving the reader a picture of their bloody practices and cruel humor. That they send mutilated messengers demanding that the people remain in the town shows their ability to use psychological tricks to frighten the inhabitants of the town, and suggests a bitter irony as they expect hospitality at the hands of their soon-to-be hostages. Beah notes that the rebels prefer to keep mostly women and children in the villages they attack, in order to delay military action on the part of the government. Though repugnant in their bloodthirstiness, the rebels’ plans are nonetheless diabolically effective.