In the Shadow of War

by Ben Okri

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Describe the soldiers' behavior and the way they are dressed in "In the Shadow of War."

In the story "In the Shadow of War," the soldiers are dressed in uniforms. One takes off his top, and the pants of another fit badly because he is overweight. At first their behavior is calculating. They bribe children to find a woman they believe to be an enemy spy. Later their behavior is cruel, as they torment and then shoot the woman. Finally, their behavior is compassionate, as they save the boy Omovo from the forest.

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The short story "In the Shadow of War" by Ben Okri tells of a young boy's reaction to the visit of three soldiers to a Nigerian village. The soldiers are searching for a woman that they believe to be an enemy spy. When they spot her, they follow her into the forest. The boy, whose name is Omovo, follows them and becomes traumatized as he watches them torment and then kill the woman.

As the story opens, the soldiers enter the village, head for a bar, and order palm wine. As they drink the wine, they stop passing children, talk to them, and give them money. When Omovo passes them, he finds out that they are recruiting the children and giving them the money in return for helping them look for the woman. While the soldiers wait, they play a board game called draughts. The soldiers carry guns with numbers on them.

The soldiers are wearing uniforms. The narrator mentions that one of them takes "off his uniform top" because of the heat. Another soldier is overweight, and his uniform does not fit him. His buttocks are so big that "they had begun to split his pants."

The soldiers manifest crude behavior, coughing and spitting. They are cruel. They taunt, slap, and push the woman to the ground before shooting her when she gets up. In the end, though, the soldiers carry the unconscious Omovo out of the forest and then drink palm wine with his father.

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