Chapter 11 to 15 Summary of Elma Shaw’s Redemption Road

In Chapter 11 of Redemption Road, Bendu informs Calvin and Siatta about her recent encounter with Commander Cobra.

Chapter 11 to 15 Summary of Redemption Road

In this post, we are going to summarise Elma Shaw’s Liberian post-war novel, Redemption Road, from chapters eleven to fifteen.

Chapter 11 Summary

In Chapter 11 of Redemption Road, Bendu informs Calvin and Siatta about her recent encounter with Commander Cobra. She also tells them where Moses Varney (Cobra) is staying at the moment. Both Calvin and Siatta are eager to take actions against him. Bendu calls Agnes to inform her too but the latter, who is in a taxi on her way to see Tenneh at the hospital, warns them against acting hastily.

Siatta wants them to inform the District Attorney about Varney. Her suggestion is not unconnected with her sojourn in America which has disconnected her from the reality of her war-torn country. As for Calvin, he does not want them to involve any apparatus of the law. He wants them to handle the matter themselves. However, Bendu insists on involving the police, but Calvin disagrees. He believes it would be a waste of time.


Bendu ignores their opinions. Both Siatta and Calvin say they cannot handle her police station issue, and can only go as far as giving her a ride to the station. Eventually, Bendu calls Agnes again to urge her to follow her to the police station to report Varney. Agnes asks where they will meet in order to proceed to the station together.

Chapter 12 Summary

Bendu and Agnes go to the police station in Chapter 12 of Redemption Road to report Cobra for arrest. Lieutenant Tarpeh listens to their request but frowns. Bendu accuses Cobra of murder. Tarpeh asks if Bendu has any evidence to prove Cobra’s guilt. He is not convinced by her response. He explains to her that it is hard to arrest Cobra without strong evidence.

Bendu, however, is bent on pursuing the case, regardless of the advice given by Tarpeh. The police officer has no option than to file the case. He opens a ledger to record information about Cobra. His pen doesn’t work, so he borrows one from Bendu. He writes down Cobra’s name and alleged crime. He asks Bendu for specific names of Cobra’s victims and the exact dates he killed them. Bendu struggles to provide specific names but insists on Cobra’s guilt all the same.

Tarpeh again emphasizes the need for concrete evidence and witnesses. He drops the ledger and pen in frustration. Bendu asks for her pen. Tarpeh tries to retrieve the pen. His drawer handle comes off and the drawer gets stuck in the process. Bendu and Agnes suppress laughter at the funny moment. Bendu tells Tarpeh to keep her pen as they leave the office.

All through Bendu’s encounter with Lieutenant Tarpeh, Agnes tries to make the police officer see the seriousness of the matter and how much of a threat Moses Varney is:

“Listen, you can make fun of us all you want,” Agnes said, “but I’m telling you–this Moses Varney is a dangerous man. He’s a criminal!”

(p. 74, Redemption Road)

As they leave, Bendu is annoyed that her sister Siatta refused to follow her to the police station. Agnes comforts Bendu and tells her that Siatta will change; that she will adjust to “this new Liberia” (p.75).

Bendu and Agnes agree to focus on Cobra’s case first. Agnes asks about Cobra’s whereabouts, and Bendu informs her. Agnes warns Bendu about the dangers of pursuing the case. But Bendu insists on continuing with the case. She prioritises justice over personal safety.

Redemption Road
Redemption Road by Elma Shaw

Chapter 13 Summary

In Chapter 13 of Redemption Road, Moses Varney receives a call from one of his comrades that he’s being followed. He worries it might be the police or someone else after him because he needs to hide. He regrets sharing information with Bendu and blames himself for sparing her life.

His boss, someone identified simply as Chief, calls him next about a potential lawsuit Bendu wants to instigate against him, but Varney assures him everything is under control.

Varney agrees to meet Diallo to exchange goods and is told to leave El Meson, his current hotel, immediately. He decides to switch to The King’s Castle, a less-known hotel. He plans to reroute the expected weapons, and return to the north soon.

As Varney rushes to meet his contact at the airport in his Pajero, he drives recklessly without concern for police. He reflects on his power and status, compared to politicians. He also thinks about his driver Weah’s hopes for a better future.

When gets to the apartment building in Sinkor described to him, he checks around to ascertain he is not being followed. He sees some children playing by the building. One of them, a boy, tells him he wants to mind his car. The boy’s appearance reminds Varney of his childhood.

He enters the building and meets Diallo on the third floor for the exchange of rough diamonds for weapons. Diallo examines the rough diamonds Varney brought for the exchange. Diallo assures Varney of no shipment problems but demands a deposit, which Varney refuses. Varney argues against providing a deposit due to potential risks. He fears that Diallo and his group won’t deliver the weapons.

When Varney tries to leave, Diallo locks the door, trapping him. Varney eventually escapes. He gives the boy minding his car 20 Liberian Dollar note. The other children run to him expectant. He gives each child a 20 LD. Varney checks his surroundings before driving to his new hotel to make further arrangements.

Chapter 14 Summary

Bendu considers Agnes’s suggestion to leave Commander Cobra’s fate to God. She realizes no one is willing to arrest Commander Cobra. She contemplates leaving the matter to God or Calvin, and acknowledges the toll the case takes on her work with Peace in Practice. She has fallen behind in her proposal writing and follow-up for PIP. This affects the organization’s activities, especially now when some INGOs are pulling out of the country.

Agnes suggests hiring a lawyer since “things aren’t going too well” (p. 83) from the police’s end. She informs Bendu that Calvin has, in fact, arranged one for her from the best law firm in the town.

In the evening, Bendu goes to her house, only to find Calvin who surprises her with a romantic dinner at her home. He has organized the dinner secretly. He has set up a white palaver hut in the middle of her front yard and has ordered dinner for two from Rhonda’s Restaurant. They enjoy the dinner together. Calvin proposes a toast to the pursuit of justice and the most beautiful woman in town, Bendu.

Bendu tries to change the conversation but eventually asks Calvin about her brother, Benji. Calvin shares fond memories of Benji. Bendu pushes Calvin to discuss Benji’s death and later opens up about her traumatic experiences during the war in Duluma. She tells him she “was captured by some fighters and forced to be a rebel’s wife” (pp. 87-88). She, however, does not go in-depth into what she did or endured during the war. For example, she does not tell Calvin the whole truth when asked why her rebel husband abandoned her.

They have a heartfelt conversation in which Bendu expresses her concerns about some of the things Calvin said at his house the other day (See Chapter 8). But Calvin insists that what he said that day were “facts and opinions” (p. 89).

At the end of the dinner, Bendu expresses her gratitude to Calvin for the dinner and the legal help he provided her. Bendu sees Calvin off to the gate. When she enters her bedroom, she notices a strong breeze blowing in from the broken window, which suggests that her house has been broken into.

Chapter 15 Summary

In Chapter 15 of Redemption Road, Moses Varney (Cobra) plans the kidnapping of Bendu. He parks his car near her house and coordinates with his driver, Weah, to execute the plan at around 8:05 PM when the area is quiet. Varney has broken into Bendu’s house while she and Calvin are having dinner. He waits in the car for Bendu to come out after discovering that her house has been broken into. He takes drugs to calm himself.

Bendu emerges with security guards. Weah drives past them, concealing Varney in the car, and drops Varney off before circling back towards Bendu. Varney, armed and under the influence of drugs, waits for Weah and Bendu’s return.

Bendu, thinking the car is a taxi, enters it. Weah takes her towards the direction of where he dropped Varney. When she sees Varney, she begins to scream and attempts to leave the car but she is prevented from doing so by the driver. Varney enters the car. He blindfolds and silences her with a duct tape as he threatens her with a gun. They drive to a deserted beach where Varney intimidates Bendu further.

Weah expresses his discomfort with the situation. He tells Varney of his desire to leave criminal activities behind:

“The war is over now, sir.” Weah answered seriously. “I don’t want to do bad things anymore. I just want to learn a trade or plant a farm somewhere and forget about the war business.”

(p. 95, Redemption Road)

Varney, however, becomes increasingly violent. At the beach, Varney removes Bendu from the car, assaults her, and leads her towards the water. He prepares to carry out his plan near a lagoon.

Other Chapters:

Further Reading:

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