Another New Year’s has passed, making Loung seven, Geak five, Chou ten, and Kim twelve. In keeping with Pa’s request, Kim acts as the head of the household. Ma no longer calls him “monkey.” Having had a good rainy season, there is plenty of ripe corn. Soldiers guard the cornfield, shooting trespassers and even raping young girls they catch trying to steal. Even so, Kim begins to steal corn for the family at night. He is terrified but determined to remain strong, as he knows Geak will die without more food. One night, however, while stealing in the rain, soldiers catch Kim and brutally beat him. Loung prays to Pa to help him survive, but also feels guilty about not having any more corn. Kim survives but never steals again. Loung reflects that he is still “only a little boy” who “feels unable to protect” them.
The hypocritical Khmer Rouge banned anything suggestive of wealth, yet now flaunts its own abundance in front of starving villagers. Instead of lifting up the poor, it has merely killed the rich and taken their wealth while leaving everyone else even poorer than before. Kim’s actions continue to reflect the strength of the bond between family and how much people will risk in order to survive. Kim, like Loung, has had to grow up too fast in the face of such extreme horror. Though Loung loves and respects her brother, the will to live makes her lament the fact that he can no longer risk his life and steal food for her.