In A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah, to what is he referring in chapter four when he says, "It was a typical aspect of being in the war. Things changed rapidly in a matter of seconds and no one had any control over anything?"
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier traces the activities of Ishmael Beah, the author, as he tries to survice war-torn Sierra Leone before escaping and making his way to America at only 18 years old. By then, Beah had witnessed horrific violence and bloodshed.
In chapter four, Ishmael and his friends return to the village they managed to escape from, to look for food and money - which will enable them to buy more food. They have to avoid the rebels because, if they get caught, they, like other boys, will be forced to become soldiers. They go to Khalilou’s house, careful to avoid some rebels but, apart from heavy sacks of rice, there is nothing they can eat. They find some money that is fortunately still there so they take the money and carry on through what is now a desolate place; dead bodies and rotten food all that are left.
The boys only just manage to avoid being caught or killed as they cross the clearing and they make it to another village. Initially, the boys are pleased with themselves at having reached the busy village and they anticipate being able to buy food from the locals. However, the locals are reluctant to share their food - even for money - so their efforts in going back for the money were in vain as their money will not now help to feed them.
The disappointment of what turns out to have been a poor decision is what Ishmael is referring to when he says, "It was a typical aspect of being in the war. Things changed rapidly in a matter of seconds and no one had any control over anything. " He is also saying that he is no longer surprised by anything. The boys have made a decision and, on reflection, they would have been better to have stayed in their village but life is like that. Now, the "only way to get through the night," is for the boys to steal from the people while they sleep.