Lone Survivor

Lone Survivor Chapter 10 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Sarawa and his men carry Luttrell down the mountain. They don’t attempt to take his rifle. Meanwhile, Luttrell continues clutching his grenade, prepared to detonate it if things go bad. As the men carry Luttrell, they pass other Afghan men, many of whom stare at Luttrell with undisguised hatred.
Although the men are clearly protecting Luttrell from harm, he recognizes that he’s not completely welcome in the Pashtun community. This would seem to confirm his original point that Pashtuns are natural allies of the Taliban—or suggest that American soldiers seem like the invasive “terrorists” to many Afghan civilians.
Themes
Bigotry and America’s Enemies Theme Icon
Eventually, Sarawa, Luttrell, and the other men arrive at a house by the mountain. Inside, Luttrell drinks water, and Sarawa begins cleaning his leg wound. By this time, it’s around 6 pm. Suddenly, Luttrell realizes that the men have taken his rifle. The men explain that they’re pretending that Luttrell is a wounded doctor—nobody will believe them unless they hide the gun. They feed Luttrell bread and goat’s milk.
Luttrell is suspicious that the Pashtuns have taken his gun, even after they give him food and milk. While Luttrell doesn’t delve into why the Pashtuns take his gun, one might imagine that they’re frightened that he’ll try to shoot them (especially considering the way he used his grenade to threaten them). In short, Luttrell gives readers reason to believe that the Pashtuns are as frightened of him as he is of them.
Themes
Bigotry and America’s Enemies Theme Icon
Night falls, and Luttrell falls into a deep sleep. Late at night, however, eight armed Taliban soldiers break into the house and shake Luttrell awake. They attack Luttrell with their fists, punching his leg and upper body. As the Taliban hit him, Luttrell doesn’t show any signs of weakness. He considers attacking them with a heavy iron bar lying in the corner of the room. The problem with this option is that it would leave Luttrell with no reliable way of leaving Sabray. Instead of fighting back, Luttrell decides to go along with the lie and say he’s a doctor in the army. The Taliban don’t believe him—they know that the American army doesn't allow beards, and that only special forces operatives are allowed to grow them. The Taliban also say—again, in broken English—that they’ve shot down an American helicopter.
Luttrell is tortured by a group of Taliban soldiers. He claims that he was strong enough to have fought back, but that he decided not to because he wouldn’t have any way of leaving the village safely. The passage leaves it temporarily unclear why the Taliban don’t just kill him, since they recognize that he’s lying to them about his identity.
Themes
Bigotry and America’s Enemies Theme Icon
An elderly man enters the room, and the Taliban fall silent. The old man offers Luttrell water and bread. Then, he turns to the Taliban and tells them something. Luttrell can’t understand a word of what he’s saying, but he senses that the man speaks with great authority, and that nobody dares contradict him. As the elder walks out of the rom, the Taliban soldiers follow him, leaving Luttrell alone, and very confused.
The village elder seems to be protecting Luttrell from the Taliban’s aggression—and, furthermore, he has sway over the Taliban.
Themes
Bigotry and America’s Enemies Theme Icon
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Later at night, Sarawa enters the room again, accompanied by some friends. They carry Luttrell out of the room—Luttrell later learns they acted on the elder’s orders, lest the Taliban break the code of lokhay. They carry Luttrell out of Sabray toward a cave by the mountain. They leave him there, with a foul-smelling bottle of water. For the rest of the night, Luttrell lies by the cave, terrified that he’s been left for dead. Remembering his favorite movie, he picks up a sharp stone and carves, “God will give me justice” onto the wall of the cave.
As an added precaution, Sarawa and his men move Luttrell to a safer location. The Count of Monte Cristo again serves as an inspiration to Luttrell. Based on the context of the book, the words “God will give me justice” again seem to allude to the violent revenge Luttrell hopes to enjoy against the Taliban soldiers who wounded him and killed his friends.
Themes
Bigotry and America’s Enemies Theme Icon
Machismo and the Navy SEALs Theme Icon
Around 8 am, Luttrell hears the faint sound of bells, signaling that the goatherds are passing by. Suddenly, he sees a gun sticking in his face. To his amazement, the gun belongs to one of the man who took care of him in Sabray—the man is grinning cheerfully. He’s brought Luttrell goat’s milk and water. Shortly afterwards, Sarawa shows up again. He posts a guard outside the cave, and for the next few hours the guard, whose name is Norzamund, protects Luttrell, feeds him bread, and offers him water.
The goatherds’ bells allude back to the events of the previous day, when the chance encounter with a group of Afghan goatherds seemingly derailed Operation Redwing almost as soon as it began. Here, however, Afghan locals risk their own lives to defend Luttrell, rather than betraying him to the Taliban.
Themes
Bigotry and America’s Enemies Theme Icon
Unbeknownst to Luttrell, back home in America, his entire family has come together to mourn his death. Contrary to the reports on TV, however, the American military has declared Luttrell MIA, missing in action—he hasn’t officially been declared dead.
Luttrell contrasts the inappropriate hastiness of the American media with the calm, measured thinking of American military commanders. The media declare Luttrell dead, but the military doesn’t jump to conclusions.
Themes
Politics and the War on Terror Theme Icon
Survival and Trauma Theme Icon
On Friday, July 1, Norzamund and two other men lead Luttrell back to Sabray. There, Sarawa replaces the dressings on Luttrell’s wounds. Luttrell is then taken to stay in the home of a man named Mohammad Gulab, the police chief and the son of the village elder. Gulab and Luttrell genuinely like each other. Gulab teaches Luttrell a Muslim prayer, and when Luttrell recites it, Gulab cheerfully tells Luttrell that he’s officially a Muslim now.
This is one of the rare scenes in the book in which Luttrell shows signs of genuine friendship with a non-American in a “hostile” country. While Gulab and Luttrell clearly have some big differences (they have different religions and can’t even speak the same language), Luttrell seems to accept their differences, and even find ways to laugh about them, in a way that he doesn’t in other parts of the memoir.
Themes
Politics and the War on Terror Theme Icon
Bigotry and America’s Enemies Theme Icon
Gulab tells Luttrell that there’s an American military base two miles away. However, he says, Luttrell is too weak to walk there alone. Luttrell interprets this to mean that he’ll be transported to the base as soon as possible. However, Luttrell gradually realizes that the Afghan men don’t want to carry him—if the Taliban spot them, they’ll be shot. Instead, the elderly man asks Luttrell to write a letter to the military, explaining that they should trust the elderly man. The elderly man plans to walk to Asadabad to contact the Americans.
Luttrell is too weak to walk out of the village on his own, meaning that he’s entirely dependent on Afghan men—a situation that Luttrell, a macho and in some ways intensely bigoted man, finds frustrating. His future now rests on the shoulders of an elderly Afghan man who has to walk over the mountains.
Themes
Bigotry and America’s Enemies Theme Icon
During his time with Gulab, Luttrell learns about the al Qaeda networks in Pashtun villages. Jihadists (i.e., Muslim terrorists) are careful to preserve good relations with the Pashtuns, offering them gifts and bribes for their continued cooperation. Children are brought up to worship the “romantic cutthroats” who oppose the United States. However, in Sabray, led by Gulab’s father, there’s “a sense of law and order and discipline in an essentially lawless land.”
This is one of the few scenes in which Luttrell distinguishes between different kinds of people in Afghanistan. Some, he allows, are good people, who believe in the value of law and order. But many others are murderous villains—or else young murderers in the making. (Again, the bitter irony is that an Afghan man could easily argue that Marcus has been brought up to romanticize murderers, too.)
Themes
Politics and the War on Terror Theme Icon
Bigotry and America’s Enemies Theme Icon
Luttrell notes that the American military is forbidden from fighting its enemies in the same way that al Qaeda fights America. But if the American military were allowed to do so, Luttrell argues, “we’d probably win in both Afghanistan and Iraq in about a week.” But because of the power of American liberals, American soldiers, including Luttrell, have to take extra risks and throw themselves into danger.
At times, Luttrell seems to despise American liberals as much as he despises al Qaeda and Taliban operatives—his sense of tribalistic competition, or “us vs. them,” applies not only to non-Americans but also to those he sees as not “real” Americans. He has no patience for the ROE, and, quite disturbingly, seems to wish that he could be as brutal and dangerous as the terrorists he fights. The “extra risks” that he refers to are surely maddening, but they also force Luttrell and other American soldiers to uphold basic moral values and refrain from killing women and children, as the Taliban do.
Themes
Politics and the War on Terror Theme Icon
Bigotry and America’s Enemies Theme Icon
Ethics and the “Rules of Engagement” Theme Icon
Gulab arranges for some men to move Luttrell to a different location, since it’s too dangerous for Luttrell to stay put. In this new location, Luttrell receives a pouch of tobacco opium for his pain. Luttrell places the opium under his lip, like tobacco—and within minutes, the opium eliminates his pain. It occurs to Luttrell that most of the suicide bombers in the Middle East use opium and other drugs—there’s nothing heroic about what they do.
It’s interesting that, even when Luttrell’s Pashtun hosts treat him kindly (clearly, they go above and beyond the tradition of lokhay by giving him this painkiller), Luttrell finds a way to use it as evidence for the inferiority of America’s enemies—in this case, arguing that suicide bombers (who are very literally dying for their beliefs) aren’t brave in the slightest.
Themes
Politics and the War on Terror Theme Icon
Bigotry and America’s Enemies Theme Icon
Outside the house, Luttrell hears American helicopters flying low. He rushes outside and waves his shirt, trying to draw attention to himself. But the helicopters fly on. Luttrell assumes that the American military has given up looking for him. However, Gulab informs Luttrell that his father has left for Asadabad: Luttrell’s future “rested in the soft tread of this powerful yet tiny old man.”
Luttrell tries to alert American planes by any means necessary, but he’s too weak to take care of himself—instead, he has to trust that Gulab and the other Pashtuns will protect him from danger.
Themes
Bigotry and America’s Enemies Theme Icon