Chapter 3 Summary

Chapter 3 returns to Little Bee's narrative. She is pondering the meaning of the word horror. In Britain, she has observed, horror is applied to things like movies that remind you of your mortality but just for a short time. It is as if you take a little dram of horror to remind yourself that your real life is no horror at all.

By contrast, horror in Nigeria is an ever-present disease that gnaws at both body and mind. Torture and death, those two evil twins, do not lurk on cinematic screens but infiltrate real villages. Little Bee reflects on the thousands of people, just like her, who have tried, either with the help of smugglers or on dangerous, self-directed sea voyages, to escape the terrors of their homelands.

Little Bee herself had been a stowaway. She thought she had broken free of the horror but soon found it had taken refuge inside of her and she could not be rid of it. For six months, she suffered nightmares as she awaited her fate at the detention center.

Yevette, one of the three detainees released with Little Bee, snaps the young woman out of her remembrances as they wait for the taxi to arrive. Yevette points out that they have a problem. There are two kinds of freedom, she notes: the legal and the illegal kind. As the four women have not been given any official papers stating their statuses when they left the detention center, they have no way to prove that their presence in the country has been approved. They are in very real danger of being deported by any official who cares to ask them for proof of their eligibility.

The taxi finally arrives but when Little Bee tries to speak formally to the driver, she makes an idiomatic error. The driver, never keen on picking up this fare, is suspicious of the four women and decides the risk is too great. He speeds off, leaving the women no choice but to walk without any clear direction or destination.

The women walk for...

(The entire section is 631 words.)