When Beah is not off fighting, he takes turns guarding the village. He regularly smokes marijuana and snorts brown brown, a combination of cocaine and gunpowder, and takes the white pills, which give him energy. He does so much in the way of drugs he doesn’t sleep for weeks. The soldiers watch war movies like Rambo, Rambo II, and Commando at night. The boys want to be like Rambo.
The life of a boy soldier is that of constant stimulation. To stop, or to sleep, or to talk of anything but war, would be an opportunity for guilt and trauma to creep up on the boys. The only playfulness that they retain is their adulation for movie stars, but even that is warped into a desire to actually act out the characters’ moves. Again, their innocence has been corrupted. Their adulation for their idols has been used to make them killers.
The army raids rebel camps for supplies, even if it is just gasoline so they can power generators and watch more movies, and go to villages to gather more recruits. Killing becomes easy for Beah, and he no longer thinks of death. After one fight, a prisoner spits in Lieutenant Jabati’s face, and Beah shoots the man. The boys cheer. Beah is proud to be a part of something, rather than on the run, and is empowered by a speech the lieutenant gives extolling the boys’ virtues.
The army is shown increasingly to be not much different from the rebels. There’s little in the way of rules of war, and soldiers are encouraged to be as cold-blooded as possible. Beah and the other boys take this attitude to heart, cheering the murder of a defenseless prisoner. They look up to the lieutenant’s brutality.
After that particular raid, Jabati has the boys practice killing prisoners. The boys are ordered to slit the throat of a designated prisoner while Jabati times them, and Beah does so without thinking about it or feeling any compassion for the prisoner. He does so the quickest, and is promoted to Junior Lieutenant. That night, as with every night, Beah could not sleep. Lansana’s humming comes to him again, and Beah drives it away by firing his gun into the night.
What the boys are practicing for is unclear, as they are already experienced fighters. More likely is that the lieutenant enjoys murder and knows that the boys do to, and by turning it into a race, he shows himself to again be manipulating what boyhood they have left. Beah’s gunshots show that he cannot stand the beauty of Lansana’s humming, or to be reminded of his past. The only way he can stand to be with himself is if he focuses solely on the present and does not allow any connection to who he was.