Layla Amin cautiously ventures outside, knowing curfew will begin in thirty minutes. If she is caught, her parents will be in trouble with the government.
Layla’s family is Muslim, and there is a Muslim ban. The president has declared that...
Internment by Samira Ahmed Chapter Summaries:
Layla Amin cautiously ventures outside, knowing curfew will begin in thirty minutes. If she is caught, her parents will be in trouble with the government.
Layla’s family is Muslim, and there is a Muslim ban. The president has declared that “Muslims are a threat to America” and has begun to relocate people, citing his ability to do so in wartime.
Staring at a poster which advertises a book burning, Layla inadvertently bumps into Mrs. Brown. Mrs. Brown cannot look Layla in the eye, because she is carrying Layla’s father’s books to burn. Although Layla apologizes, Mrs. Brown merely hurries away.
Layla pushes on, determined to see her boyfriend, David. She thinks about what her father has lost: a tenured professor of poetry and writing at the university, he was recently fired.
Layla’s risk is greater than David’s. He is Ashkenazi Jewish, not Muslim, so he is not targeted. Because Layla is Muslim, however, he is forbidden to see her. When the two were suspended from school for kissing, the principal lectured her parents, not David’s, about staying in one’s place. Layla didn’t understand why her parents chose not to defend her, and they have homeschooled her since then.
Relieved to see David, Layla tries to pretend they live in normal times.
Suddenly, their phones flash a reminder to watch the president’s weekly National Security Address. David rails against the president’s bigotry, but Layla is only concerned about getting home to avoid trouble. They promise that their relationship will not end, despite David’s parents forbidding him to see Layla. David vows to fight society’s unfairness, revealing that there are groups already fighting. Layla feels he is only trying to make her feel better. She thinks about how lies are accepted in an attempt to survive.
The two fall silent as they see a beam of light move slowly across the lawn. David insists on walking Layla home, but they are stopped by a voice shouting for them to halt. David screams for Layla to run to safety.
Layla races into her house, slamming the door behind her, and faces her shocked parents, Ali and Sophia. They plead with her not to leave again, as the consequences for the family could be dire.
Layla questions their silence during this time of injustice. Ali reminds her that they are Muslim Americans and considered enemies of the government, merely because they answered the census truthfully about their background. When Layla retorts that they should have lied, Sophia explains they will never deny their heritage. Layla angrily brings up crimes against Muslims, but her parents steadfastly believe they must abide by the government’s rules.
Layla recalls life before the current president’s election. During the primaries, the then-candidate proposed a Muslim registry and called people that greeted each other with a Nazi salute “very fine people.” She thinks about the fake news, the president calling refugees criminals and rapists, and the people who voted for a candidate who tweeted hate-filled messages. She is angry that people only pray for better days rather than do something about the hate crimes.
Fearing punishment, the Amins keep the television tuned to the president’s address while they do other things.
Hearing a car outside, Layla peers out the window to see two men in suits approaching their front door. She is seized with terror and tears down the stairs, ready to accept blame for her transgression. One of the men points a gun at her, and as Ali moves to shield his daughter, the man throws him to the ground. The family is informed that they are being relocated.
One of Ali’s poems, entitled “Revolution,” reverberates through Layla’s mind: “Speak the truth while it is still alive.”
Forced to surrender their phones, the family hurriedly sets about packing. Layla leaves important tokens behind, refusing to allow the enemy to touch them. The three are ushered into a police car driven by the police chief, a family friend.
In the darkness, Layla spies someone running toward the car. Thinking it's David, she calls out his name and tries to roll down the window, but it won't budge. She stares at her broken reflection in the window.
Layla is shocked at the police chief’s calmness. She attempts to engage him in conversation to remind him that they are not only human beings, but friends.
In Los Angeles, Layla and her parents are processed along with hundreds of others for relocation. ID numbers are stamped on their wrists. Layla cannot resist several sarcastic comments, making Ali and Sophia uncomfortable.
On the train that will take them to their new home, Layla begins to recite a poem. Usually, she and her father take turns reciting lines, but this time Ali remains silent.
Later, while her parents doze, Layla explores the train and runs into a threatening guard. Frightened, she mumbles an excuse about looking for the bathroom. Just then, a government Exclusion Guard steps into the car and rescues Layla. As he talks, Layla notices a tattoo on his arm: two crossed arrows with an “N” in between. In her mind, she nicknames him Compass Tattoo.
The train arrives at Independence, California. Layla meets a girl, Ayesha, with whom she shares a love of Star Wars. During the bus ride, Layla notices they pass Manzanar, a former Japanese American internment camp.
Upon their arrival at Mobius camp, Layla wonders if the relocated Japanese Americans during World War II felt as detached from their bodies as she feels now. Noticing the armed Exclusion Guards, Layla feels they are marching like ants into a trap. Suddenly, a little boy screams and runs. The guards aim their guns at him, and one pins the boy down on the ground while the mother pleads for his life. Compass Tattoo steps in to extricate the child. Acknowledging Layla’s stare, he walks away.
The camp is arranged in blocks of mobile homes, but Layla knows “it’s still prison.” Inside their trailer is a common area fitted with cameras. There are two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a shower.
Ayesha and Layla explore the grounds of the camp. Seeing the electrified fences and armed guards, Layla notes that the federal Exclusion Authority built this camp and wonders what else they might do to people “when America isn’t looking.” Ayesha shares her father’s words of wisdom: fear makes you more alert.
A young man, Soheil, argues with the guards, and his friends pull him away before he is hurt. Soheil tells them they’re in a prison camp and should be afraid. He believes that fear compels people to act.
Layla tries to break the tension by asking Soheil where he lives. He responds that his home is with other Arab Americans. It is only then that Layla realizes people are segregated in the camp by nationality.
Layla walks to orientation with her parents and is struck by the many races and nationalities present, by the “Americanness” of the group.
The Director welcomes everyone to the camp, but he has a threatening air about him. Layla is shocked that he speaks as if he’s an entertainment director, not a prison warden. He reveals that every block has “minders,” people of the same ethnicity who “speak your language” and are there to help with the transition. The Director’s menacing tone is clear as he reminds everyone that he sees everything on the cameras.
A woman suddenly stands up and shouts “Traitors!” at the minders, who have agreed to help the government. Guards seize her, but because she struggles, they tase her and forcefully remove her, to everyone’s horror.
Layla and Ayesha meet each other’s families and their minders, Saleem and Fauzia. As they walk, Layla stumbles. Compass Tattoo catches her eye, then quickly turns away.
Unable to sleep that night, Layla takes a walk. She is surprised when Compass Tattoo finds her and merely escorts her home instead of reporting her for being out. Gathering the courage to question why he is not turning her in to the Director, Layla is further surprised that Tattoo knows her name. He tells her that “Things aren’t always as they seem.” He identifies himself as Corporal Reynolds and warns her not to venture out again, because there are guards who will shoot her if she does.
Layla shares her concerns with Ayesha that the president will not free them, because he sees Muslim Americans as threats. She compares their situation to that of fish caught in a net, drowning but not aware. She intends to escape.
She shows Ayesha her infinity necklace, a present from David, and ponders the idea that perhaps David could help them.
Ayesha wonders if David has thought of converting to Islam to be with Layla, who says they’ve never discussed the issue. Many people of David’s father’s family were victims of the Holocaust, and his mother’s family were refugees from Yemen. They have endured so much in the past in order to continue practicing their Jewish faith that Layla does not expect David to convert. She reminds Ayesha of how dangerous that would be and points out that there are no white people at Mobius. The two agree that the darker one’s skin or the more foreign-sounding one’s name, the more bigotry and hatred one has to endure in today’s society.
Later, as she walks with her parents, Layla searches the area for a way out. Turning to observe the guards, she notices Corporal Reynolds looking at her, and he turns away.
Layla thinks about her new life at Mobius: five-minute showers, rationed food, cameras and guards, no freedom. She misses David and still intends to contact him. People have begun to disappear from the camp, so Layla knows she must act soon.
Ayesha has been spending time with Soheil, and Layla is happy for them.
Seeing Corporal Reynolds, Layla forms an impromptu plan. Instructing Ayesha to comfort her, she begins crying. Corporal Reynolds immediately inquires about the problem. Ayesha explains that Layla misses her boyfriend and badly wants to talk to him. He brings Layla to a phone and instructs her not to tell anyone.
Unfortunately, David is in class and does not answer the call. Reynolds notices Layla is angry, and when he asks what’s wrong, she launches into a tirade about the camp, the president, and the guards who let it all happen. Suddenly realizing her mistake, she steps back, expecting Reynolds to turn her in. He doesn’t.
Layla notices a pained look in Reynolds’s eye. He lets her finish her rant, then escorts her home.
Trying to give Soheil and Ayesha some privacy, Layla sits away from them in the garden. When it’s time for dinner, she tells them to go on ahead and sits alone thinking.
Reynolds approaches, and Layla is afraid that he has told the Director about her. He reassures her by touching her elbow, which frightens her. Apologizing, he gives her an old flip phone to call David on. He escorts her to her trailer, and she walks to her room to get away from the cameras. David agrees to come to Mobius.
Layla thanks Reynolds and asks why he is helping her. He responds, “I have my reasons.” He tells her to call him Jake and warns her not to make trouble. He cautions that if she’s planning something, she must stop, or she could be killed.
No news from the outside reaches the camp, and no news from within reaches the outside. The government censors everything.
Layla’s parents are upset because someone saw Layla walking with Reynolds. She explains that he only helped her to call David, and she was not in trouble. They are concerned and warn her to keep a low profile. Layla argues with them, accusing them of giving up. She does not intend to live the rest of her life in prison. Sophia tells her she is too young to understand, but they have lost their rights and power, so they have no choice. Ali tells her silence does not equal weakness. He reminds her of a line from one of his poems:
“Only when you open yourself to the heart’s silence can you hear its roar.”
Although she does not say it aloud, Layla is determined to talk to David again.
Layla tries to get Jake’s attention by tripping and pretending she hurt her ankle. He comes to help her and agrees to allow her to call David again. Instructing her to wait in her trailer, he returns with a phone.
David is angry that his father refused to help Layla’s family, even though he has State Department contacts who could have assisted them. His father will only help those who are willing to work with the government. David warns Layla about trusting Jake, but she is convinced that he is trustworthy.
At midnight, Layla makes her way to the garden, where Jake is to meet her. He has sent the other guards away, so David and Layla will have five minutes together.
Layla balks at David’s suggestion that her family help the government in order to be released from Mobius. Layla and her parents will never save themselves at the expense of others. David apologizes, explaining that he only suggested the idea because he loves her and wants her safe and with him. They will find another way to freedom.
Jake interrupts, stating that Layla must return home or risk being detected. He tells Layla that he heard everything they said. He understands David’s desperation and divulges that protesters are actively organizing against Mobius. When Layla asks if there is hope, Jake whispers, “Insha’Allah.”
Jake’s comment stays with Layla as she tries to decipher his motives. “God willing. Everything and nothing?”
Ayesha suggests that Layla consider David’s proposal. She reminds Layla that even if they managed to escape through some other means, there is nowhere to go. They cannot even hide in Mexico, because they’d be shot climbing over the border wall.
Ayesha does not trust Jake and thinks he is using Layla to obtain information. Layla assures her that Jake is genuine.
Layla talks about the White Rose. Soheil is familiar with this reference to Hans and Sophie Scholl, students who were executed for denouncing Hitler. Sophie believed that someone had to start resisting.
Soheil asks if they are considering a resistance. Layla’s idea is to write stories about life at Mobius, which David will give to the media. Soheil promises to help and suggests a protest fast. Ayesha mentions that she had previously suggested a teen vegetable garden to the librarian, who purchased supplies. While they plant seeds in the garden, they can recruit people and plant seeds of rebellion.
Layla, Ayesha, and Soheil witness their friend Noor being dragged away by guards. Noor had previously told Layla that rebellion was the American way. Two women try to help Noor but are beaten by the guards and removed.
The Director shoots a gun in the air, and the crowd falls silent. He wants everyone to hear the distant sounds of the women screaming.
Unable to sleep, Layla writes Noor’s story. The next morning, she lies to her parents about meeting Ayesha and instead meets Jake to give him the story. He brings her to the Mess hall, where David surprises her. He is dressed in a sanitation uniform that Jake gave him so he could enter Mobius undetected.
Layla is concerned for David’s safety, as he will be responsible for leaking the story to the media. Unbeknownst to Jake, David gives Layla a flip phone so that she can call him any time she wants.
Jake again warns Layla against any kind of disobedient act. He knows they are taking a big risk in leaking the story, and he reiterates that he can only protect Layla so much. He says it’s not just the president behind the internment camps—it’s Homeland Security, the CIA, and the FBI.
“You need to understand that the president operates like the Constitution is a blank slate . . . No one is challenging him. People won’t even call him out on his blatant lies.”
Jake reminds Layla that people are trying to help, but she needs to trust him and heed his advice.
The Director walks toward them and addresses Layla by name, showing that he knows who she is. He asks where she has been. Jake answers that she lost her necklace, and he brought her to retrieve it. The Director warns them that he sees everything.
Layla is struck by the irony of their vegetable garden’s name—“Peace Garden.” Jake tells Layla about his mother, who loved gardening, and his father, who is a military man. Layla expresses sympathy for the fact that he lost his mother when he was twelve. “It’s never easy to lose what you love,” she says.
Later, Jake comes to Layla’s mobile home. Awkwardly, they stand in the common room, knowing there are cameras. He gestures to her room so they can talk freely. When she asks what will happen when someone sees him enter her room, Jake says the Director will assume rape or coercion and will not care. He promises that if he ever saw something like that happen, he would stop it.
Jake informs her that Noor’s blood-stained hijab was found on the premises; someone had written “resist” across it. He feels it is his duty to protect the United States from all enemies, even the ones within. He apologizes for having to go along with the Director’s orders for now but hints that he also has “counter-orders.” The Director trusts him, and keeping that trust is the only way Jake feels he can keep Layla safe.
Layla notices Jake’s demeanor is softer than usual. He worries that the Director could hurt her and that he might not be able to stop him. When she admits she’s afraid, he hugs her, and she feels safe. Jake seems suddenly dismayed and apologizes. He reminds her that she’s not alone and that people are protesting at the White House.
He stops her from divulging any of her plans, saying that if he does not know, no one can take the information from him.
Layla secretly meets David, who shows her an article about the impact her story is having on the world. Although she’s happy to see David, Layla feels there is a growing separation between them. He questions her about Jake, but she assures him there is nothing going on between them.
Suddenly, they hear Jake yell for them to come out; he enters the room and warns them that the Director is approaching. He hides Layla’s newest story in his boot, just before the Director bursts in. Quickly, Layla whispers for David to stream the event on Instagram. He films the Director’s menacing words as a guard violently flings Layla against the refrigerator. David states that he is broadcasting live, so the Director changes his tone. He acts concerned for Layla’s welfare and instructs Jake to take her to the infirmary.
When the Director leaves, Jake reprimands David for endangering Layla by giving her a phone and meeting her in secret. David tells Layla he loves her and asks Jake to keep her safe.
Lying to her parents about her swollen cheek, Layla tells them she tripped. They watch on the media unit as the Director angrily tells of a traitor who has leaked false information about Mobius to the outside world. He states that the entire community will suffer and promises a reward to anyone who can identify the traitor. He says people from the Red Cross will visit tomorrow, and he wants to show community pride.
The minders give everyone a job so that they will look good for the Red Cross visit, and they promise a reward if the visit goes well. Layla thinks about the only real reward: freedom, a right that was stolen from them.
Frightened about the next day’s planned protest fast, Layla prays for protection.
The media and protesters are outside the fence. Layla feels encouraged when she spots David in the crowd. Jake explains that this protest is in response to Layla’s story. Social media is buzzing, placing pressure on the government.
Layla worries that the Red Cross team will not see the truth. She knows from her history class that the Red Cross visited Nazi concentration camps but believed the lies they were told and shown; they did not save people from being murdered. Seeing the Red Cross at Mobius does not give her the hope that the protest does.
Jake urges those involved in the protest fast to be more careful—he heard people talking about it. Soheil does not trust Jake, although Ayesha and Layla vouch for him. Jake promises he will not turn them in, no matter what the Director might do to him.
Jake says that when his unit was moved into the Exclusion Guard, he forgot his duty to protect the United States and simply followed orders. Now, he is still following orders, but they counter the Director’s. He will use the Director’s trust in him to help the people of Mobius.
Jake vows to smuggle another of Layla’s stories out of the camp, and Layla is troubled, thinking about what the Director would do to him if his treachery were discovered. She also fears the fast, since those involved will be in the open and could be injured—or worse.
Layla and her friends’ table is called to take their food, but none of the teenagers rise. When Soheil announces that they are protesting the government’s violation of Muslims’ civil rights, the Director is furious. He lashes out and breaks Soheil’s nose. The Red Cross volunteers quickly create a barrier between the teens and the Director, who is held back by his own guards.
Throngs of Exclusion Guards burst in the door, pushing people to the floor and breaking cell phones. Jake pulls Ayesha and Layla out of the confusion and turns to help others.
Outside the fence, the protesters and police look on as helicopters circle the premises, creating dust storms. Amid the screams and violence, Jake sees Layla unable to breathe and pulls her into her trailer. He washes her face and gives her water, stopping himself from holding her face in his hand.
Layla is in more danger now; the Director will blame her for riling up the others. Ali and Sophia lecture her on the danger of what she has done. Layla believes they are trying to mitigate the damage by portraying her on camera as a thoughtless teenager. They turn and go to their room, giving Layla the silent treatment.
Layla does not intend to die in captivity.
All residents must now report at 6:30 a.m. for roll call. Their daily activities are precisely scheduled, and they have a 9 p.m. curfew. Saleem and Fauzia strictly enforce the roll call and urge everyone to cooperate or face consequences. A few people point out Layla to take the blame for their punishment. Fauzia and Ali intervene when Saleem threatens Layla.
Ayesha reports that the Red Cross has taken Soheil to a clinic to treat his injury. She is frightened that he will be a target if he returns. Just then, a man throws a hard clump of dirt, hitting Layla in the back.
Three girls wearing hijab wish to join the movement, and Layla is impressed by their courage. She knows it takes great strength to maintain one’s identity.
The Director interrogates Layla with Red Cross representatives present. Layla recognizes an opportunity to expose the Director’s true self to the world and tries not to be intimidated by his demeanor. He accuses her of hurting people and disturbing their peaceful community. She retorts that she was not the one who broke Soheil’s nose and that they are prisoners in an internment camp.
The Director warns her that the Red Cross cannot help her, but he can. He offers her family a reward if she becomes his informant. He wants to know who organized the protest and who leaked stories to the outside world. She denies any knowledge. He informs her that Ali and Sophia have received threatening notes, which unnerves Layla; she has no intention of her parents suffering. The Director dismisses her after warning her that it would be better that they are friends when the Red Cross leaves.
Jake introduces Layla to Specialist Fred Adams; the two have switched shifts in order to protect her. Jake becomes uncomfortable when Fred says they have an advantage because the others think Jake likes Layla. The shift switch gives Layla time to organize people for the next protest: a silent wall of solidarity next to the electrified fence. Someone suggests they also raise their right fists, a universal gesture of protest against racism and oppression.
One boy, Abdul, seems uncomfortable and expresses disbelief that girls in hijab would know anything about oppression, prompting one of the girls, Suraya, to tell him he’s ignorant. Layla warns them about fighting each other, which is just what the Director would want.
Although they defend her to others, Layla’s parents hardly speak to her. They have heard about David’s Instagram video, and they know people blame her for the tight restrictions. Layla is saddened by the growing distance between her parents and herself, but she is also glad that they are somewhat protected. If they do not know what’s in her mind, they cannot be hurt.
Layla asks about Jake’s tattoo, and he explains that it is for his mother. They used to hike together, and one day she gave him a compass for navigation. She said a compass will only tell you a direction, and that only you can find your true north. Layla takes his hand to comfort him.
Jake has taken up Layla’s former job of leaking stories about Mobius to the press; since guards are searched when leaving the premises, he is unable to smuggle her writing out of the camp. He tells Layla that David loves her and is worried about her. When she acknowledges that she is lucky to have David, Jake responds that David is the lucky one. He reiterates his warning to be careful and says that David is not the only one who worries about her.
Surprisingly, David’s father has been trying to have Layla released before she turns eighteen and is no longer protected from the Director’s abuse.
Layla considers Jake’s story about finding one’s direction; she has chosen hers.
She tells Ayesha about Jake’s comment that those who are under eighteen are protected because they’re minors. She worries that others besides her will turn eighteen soon.
As per Layla’s plan, while the friends eat dinner, someone turns out the lights. In the chaos that ensues, the teenagers are able to make their way to the fence. Layla notices that a few older people have joined them. As they stand in unity before the protesters, Layla hears David calling to her, “I love you.”
The protesters begin to chant, and the guards shout for people to return to their trailers. Suddenly, a shot is fired into the air, and a guard screams to cut off the electricity in the fence. Layla sees that the police cannot hold back the crowd from reaching the fence, and she screams in vain for them to retreat. Jake urges Layla to return home, but before she can leave, she catches sight of Soheil. Her screams do not reach him as he hurtles himself toward the fence and is instantly electrocuted.
There is no time to mourn. Layla and the others must run back to safety. She reaches the trailer and vomits, then chokes out Soheil’s story to her mother. After they pray for Soheil, the family sits together, comforting each other.
Just then, the door bursts open, and four of the Director’s private guards demand that Layla come with them.
Sophia screams as Ali tries to hold his daughter back; one of the guards hits him so hard he falls against the floor, hitting his head and shoulder. As Layla is taken away, a crowd of people shout at the guards.
Layla is placed in a prison cell and given a bottle of water, which she clutches “like it’s a life preserver.” She must remind herself to be strong and to breathe. Eventually she falls asleep, only to be awakened by Jake. Fred gives her a banana and takes her to see the Director.
Layla knows that the Director is angry, but she is shocked when he forcefully grabs her jaw. As he squeezes harder, she refuses to give him the satisfaction of speaking, but her tears betray her pain. Just as the Director is about to punch Layla, Fred bursts through the door to announce visitors from High Command.
Fred gives Layla ice packs for her face. He tells her that Jake is with High Command but will return soon and will “go wild” when he hears what the Director did to Layla.
Concerned about her parents, and in great pain, Layla dissolves into “soul-shattering sobs.”
Two of the Director’s guards roughly pull Layla up from the bed. They place duct tape over her mouth, handcuff her, and force a bag over her head. There is no way for her to fight and nowhere to run.
The Director asks her again to become an informant and tells her that it’s the best way to ease the consequences she and others will feel. He tells her someone has already given him information, and Layla immediately knows it was Abdul. When she refuses to become an informant, the Director hits her across the face, splitting her lip. He reminds her of Soheil and threatens that others will be hurt. He blames her for not thinking about the results of her actions and tells her his patience is limited.
Fred helps Layla back to her cell and brings her more ice packs. He tells her that the Director is being watched by the War Department and the president. Layla looks to her father’s poetry for reassurance.
The Director violently wakes Layla to tell her that the media has made her a hero. He angrily reads her an excerpt from a news story praising her as a freedom fighter and condemning him as a criminal. He says the “fake news” has twisted the truth.
He stops short in his rant to demand that Layla beg him for her life. She refuses. He throws her to the floor just as Jake bursts into the cell demanding that the Director leave at once. Jake identifies himself as a member of the United States National Guard and declares that the Director is out of order. Then he takes out his gun and stands as a shield in front of Layla. Unfazed by the Director’s threat of court martial, Jake says that no one is above the law in the United States and that mistreating prisoners violates international and military laws.
Faced with no choice, the Director laughs nervously and leaves.
Jake comforts Layla and promises to make the Director pay for his actions. In a state of shock, she clings to him for support. He and Fred berate themselves for not keeping Layla safe.
Dr. Han enters the cell to care for Layla’s wounds and to give her pain medicine. The doctor records Layla’s statement about what happened and intends to press charges against the Director. She also puts Jake in charge of protecting Layla. Jake gingerly carries Layla back to her trailer, but she becomes agitated and faints when she learns that the Director has taken her parents into custody.
Awakening from a deep sleep, Layla tells Jake she feels responsible for everything that has happened. He assures her it’s his fault instead: he followed orders to step back and let the Director do what he wanted. It was the only way High Command felt they could obtain evidence against the Director. He apologizes profusely for going along with a plan that left her as bait in a trap.
Fred reports that Dr. Han not only gave Layla’s video to the National Guard and the Attorney General, she also leaked it to the press as insurance. He says that the president will most likely save himself at the expense of the secretary of war to avoid taking the blame for this debacle.
Mobius is on lockdown, and the Director has locked himself in his office.
The next morning, Layla leaves with Ayesha for roll call, intending for everyone to see her face and know what the Director is capable of doing.
Saleem hurts her wrist as he scans her bar code, angrily telling her she deserves it. Ayesha comes to her aid, only to have Saleem throw her to the ground. Layla rushes to shield Ayesha and chastises Saleem for going against his own people. As Saleem moves menacingly toward Layla, Khadijah auntie, an old woman, hits him with her cane. Fauzia tries to reason with her husband, but he pushes her to the ground as well, intending to hit Khadijah auntie. A crowd forms, and someone throws Saleem to the ground. Shocked at their disobedience, he rushes to report them.
Khadijah auntie reminds Layla that Laylah leads the movement, and Layla decides to march to the fence and demand freedom. This time, everyone is part of the movement, and they support Layla as she speaks of America, liberty, and religious freedom. “We are Americans. We make America great. This is our country. And we’re taking it back.”
They march proudly to the fence.
On the other side of the fence, the protesters and media rush forward. Layla notes that the electricity must be off and sees it as a victory. Exclusion Guards hurry over, but some of them join Layla’s group instead of the Director’s. Jake stands next to Layla for support and protection.
As they demand to be freed, Layla’s parents are pushed out of a door, followed by the Director, who urges her to stop the demonstration so that no one else will be hurt. Two guards aim guns at Ali and Sophia, and Layla notices that Ali’s arm is visibly injured.
Layla refuses to bargain; she reminds the Director that the world watches this exchange. He pushes Ali and Sophia down the stairs, and they run to reunite with Layla. The Director goads the crowd, telling them they foolishly follow a girl and ignore the guns and the electric fence.
Someone shouts that they are united, and Layla tells the Director he has lost.
Suddenly, the Director tells his guard to shoot Layla; Jake orders them to stand down.
The Director turns around and shoots his gun.
Layla is surrounded by confusion, screams, and panic, and she realizes she is on the ground. Jake is bleeding profusely; she tries to stop the blood, but it’s too late. Layla realizes that Jake stepped in front of her when the Director aimed his gun, taking the bullet meant for her.
Desperately trying to stop the blood, Layla prays that this will not be the end of Jake’s story. He chokes out: "Layla. I . . . You." People gather around them and pray for Jake. She sees his eyes close “for the last time.”
As the family prepares to go home, Layla thinks of those who have given their lives. She leaves her belongings in the trailer, wanting nothing to remind her of Mobius. She thinks of Ayesha, who is suffering after losing Soheil.
Layla recalls that once, Jake had told her about his friend who worked for the United States Air Force Pararescue team. He said their motto was “That Others May Live.” She realizes that is what has happened at Mobius. People have given their lives so that the Exclusion laws could be repealed, the internment camps could be closed, the president could be impeached.
Layla does not know where her life is heading, but she is confident she will find her way. She looks ahead, not behind her, as she leaves the camp.