For several days the boys continue to walk, eventually finding more survivors. Beah wants to know what his brother is thinking, but doesn’t ask. He wonders where his family is, and if they are safe. He would cry, but he is too hungry. The boys sleep in abandoned villages, hoping to find something beyond the occasional fruit to eat. In the end, they feel they have no choice but to go back into Mattru Jong to get some money so they can buy food.
The boys are unable to put words to their shared horror, and are unsure of what they can do for each other. But if the horror of war is terrible, their hunger may be even worse. The boys are willing to risk their lives, as Mattru Jong is sure to be dangerous, in order to get something to eat.
The town appears to be abandoned, although there is a great deal of carnage. Beah vomits when he sees two male corpses with their limbs and genitals chopped off. The boys almost run into some rebels, but manage to avoid detection. When they get to Khalilou’s house, they find it has been ransacked, and that there is no food, but that their money was still in a plastic bag at the foot of the bed.
The rebels have not bothered to clean up after themselves, and what Beah sees drives him to be physically sick. Though they are clearly in danger, and the town appears to be picked clean, the boys are hungry enough that they do not turn back. That the money is even there is a minor miracle, though it also shows, perhaps, that the rebels aren’t after money: they are after terror and domination.
The boys take the money and exit the town through the swamp and head for the clearing, the only way out of town. They must crawl through the clearing, and among the dead bodies, to avoid detection, because there are rebel guards in a tower that overlooks the clearing. They cross in three groups. Nearly everyone makes it safely, until a boy trying to carry a heavy bag full of things from his house through the clearing is seen by the rebels. He refuses to leave the bag, and the boys run, leaving him behind.
The boys do what they must, crawling among the carnage in order to escape. Though nearly all of the boys seem to understand the danger they are in, the boy with the bag is unable to let go of his former life. His sentimentality almost certainly gets him killed or captured.
The boys are somewhat happy to have some money with which to buy food, and coming upon a village, they go to the market. But no one is selling food anymore, as they are saving it in case things get worse. The money is worthless. That night, the boys steal food from the villagers who are asleep.
In a state of war, money ceases to be valuable. And themselves caught in the impossible situation of war, the boys almost immediately are forced to turn to theft in order to survive. This speaks to the boy’s adaptability and survival instinct.