Beah explains that being in a large group of boys was not to their advantage. In addition to being easy to spot, the boys are often mistaken for rebel boys and are chased or even attacked by villagers hoping to repel them. Beah says that one day they were captured by villagers, and that the only thing that saved them was the rap cassette in his pocket. The chief of the village, intrigued by the music, asks after the boys past, finds out they are from Mattru Jong, and summons a boy from the same town, who recognizes them.
Despite the fact that the boys are refugees and have been subjected to terrible violence, that they are greeted with terror signals how boys have been made into almost demonic soldiers in this war. It is only once the appearance of the cassette suggests that these really are boys, with the concerns and cares of boys, that the villagers respond to them as boys. Of course, this also suggests that the boy soldiers are in a way no longer boys, and don’t have the cares of boys.
The townspeople let the boys go, feed them, and offer to let them stay, but the boys say no, knowing that the rebels will soon reach this village, too. They walk on, and Beah notices that the sky looks dull and that the trees sway hesitantly. In the next village, Beah looks to Junior, hoping that he will speak of what is troubling him, but all he gets is a smile that quickly dissipates.
The boys seem to have learned that the war will come, whether or not the villagers understand that. Nature has lost some of its luster for Beah. With overwhelming sadness he looks to his brother for some kind of hope or companionship, but in the face of the horror of war the boys have nothing to offer each other.
Beah remembers when Junior tried to teach him how to skip a stone on a river. Coming back from the river, Beah had tripped, spilling the water he was carrying. His brother had gone back to the river for more water and asked him if he was okay. Thinking back, Beah wishes that his brother would ask him again how he was feeling, but doesn’t know how to break the silence himself and in the present, Beah wishes he himself had asked Junior how he was feeling.
Beah’s sense of responsibility for his brother’s well-being, and his brother’s for his, is compromised by the horror of what they have seen. Language is inadequate for addressing the horrors of war. Nonetheless, Beah wishes he and his brother could do something for each other.
The following morning, a large group passes through, and one of them knows Gibrilla and tells him his aunt is in a village thirty miles from them, Kamator. Although the village is in territory held by the rebels, the boys head there and, in return for food and shelter, act as sentries for the village. The boys do this for a month, but there is no sign of the rebels, and despite the boys’ protests, the townspeople order the boys to farm. Farming is extremely hard on the boys. They are asked to clear extremely thick brush, and do a poor job. They are then asked to plant cassava. They do this for three months.
Beah and his friends are always whipsawing between the desire for safety and the desire for companionship and a steady supply of food. Going to Kamator puts them back in danger, but will also bring Gibrilla closer to his family, and the boys opt for the latter. Having seen the horror of war, they seem to understand that having no sentries is a terrible idea, but the people of Kamator don’t listen. It seems like those who have not experienced the war can’t imagine it ever actually reaching them.