Internment: A Novel Summary & Study Guide

Samira Ahmed
This Study Guide consists of approximately 48 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Internment.
This section contains 949 words
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Internment: A Novel Summary & Study Guide Description

Internment: A Novel Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Internment: A Novel by Samira Ahmed.

The following version of this book was used to create the guide: Ahmed, Samira. Internment. Hachette Book Group Inc., 2019.

In Samira Ahmed's Internment, 17-year-old Muslim American Layla Amin grows enraged by her government's increasing work to limit her personal freedoms and rights. In the years since the president was elected, the nation has begun embracing more and more anti-Muslim agendas. At the start of the novel, Layla sneaks out of her house to visit her boyfriend David. Though she knows her parents will be furious she is breaking curfew, Layla is determined not to cede all her agency to the powers that be.

Later that evening, while Layla is sitting in her room, several Exclusion Authority vehicles arrive at her house. Believing they are there to punish her for breaking curfew, she rushes downstairs. The men, however, have arrived to relocate Layla and her parents to an internment camp in the middle of the Nevada desert. They give Layla, Ali, and Sophia 10 minutes to pack a bag, seizing their phones, and escorting them out of the house.

Along with hundreds of other families, the Amins are forced into Camp Mobius, locked behind electric fences and secluded from the rest of the world beyond. Almost every corner of the camp is under constant surveillance. The families are divided into a series of blocks according to their respective ethnicities. Each family is assigned to a diminutive trailer, also equipped with cameras, with the exception of the bedrooms and bathroom. In the time prior to their mandatory orientation, Layla connects with a girl she met on their way to the camp, Ayesha. The two try to comfort one another despite their terrifying new reality.

During the orientation, the Director, a lifeless looking man, explains the rules and objectives of the camp. Because it is the first of its kind, the Director is determined to maintain order and control. Despite the obviously unjust and heinous conditions, the facility is operated under the guise of unity, prosperity, and security. When the Director explains that each block has a set of minders, fellow Muslims who have agreed to enforce the camp's rules as a means of securing their own safety, a woman bursts out, calling them traitors and fascists. The Director's agents tase her and drag her from the building. Having witnessed this violent episode, Layla becomes enraged, endeavoring to stage some sort of rebellion to secure their freedom.

With the help and kindness of a sympathetic guard, Corporal Jake Reynolds, Layla contacts David, begging him for help. The next night Jake sneaks David into the camp and lets him visit Layla. David suggests Layla and her family work as government authorities in exchange for their release. Layla is furious, refusing to betray her fellow citizens. In the coming weeks she works with her new friends Ayesha and Soheil to concoct a plan. Using World War II Nazi protesters as inspiration, the companions decide to write and leak accounts of the violence occurring in the camp to the public.

Shortly thereafter, Jake secretly smuggles David back inside so he can apologize to Layla. He agrees to help her post her letters to online platforms. Soheil also encourages his friends to stage a hunger strike in the Mess. The night of the Red Cross visit, the friends refuse to eat when their table number is called. Soheil announces the reason for their rebellion, inciting the Director's rage. He punches Soheil in the face and breaks his nose. Though journalists, also present at the meal, film the episode, the Director's agents seize and smash their phones.

In the days following, the Director tightens security in the camp, increasing the number of guards and drones. Layla, however, does not give up hope of defeating the Director. Her leaked messages have caused a significant disturbance beyond the walls of Mobius. An increasing number of journalists and Occupiers set up outside the camp's main fence. Bolstered by this support, Layla and her friends plan another protest, determining to line up silently in front of the fence and raise their fists as a symbol of solidarity. The peaceful demonstration, however, grows violent when guards inside Mobius and police just outside, begin herding the crowds. Soheil is driven in the electric fence and killed.

Afterwards, the Director has Layla locked in a solitary holding cell. During each of their one-on-one meetings, he attempts bribing her into telling him who is leaking information to the media. Layla stays strong and refuses to provide him any names. Each of their encounters becomes increasingly violent, the Director abusing and injuring Layla despite her age. When his outbursts endanger Layla's life, Dr. Han intercedes, reporting the Director's actions to his higher-ups. Layla is released to her trailer to recover. Her parents, however, have gone missing, seemingly by the Director's hand.

With the help of her friends, Layla plans another protest. She makes a rallying speech which draws all the internees out into the space before the main gate. They demand the Director show his face and release them. When he finally appears, he and his men thrust Ali and Sophia to the ground. The Director tells Layla if they do not disband, her parents' lives are at risk. No one moves. Finally, the Director tells his men to shoot Layla. When they refuse, he draws his gun. Just in time, Jake dives in front of the bullet, sacrificing his own life for Layla's survival.

The camp is shut down the next day and all of the internees are released. Before leaving, Layla spends several minutes by herself in quiet meditation, remembering all the lives lost at Mobius, thanking them for their sacrifice.

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