The Analysis Of The Novel “A Long Walk To Water” By Linda Sue Park
“If you want to start learning to appreciate what you have and stop wanting more we have to become educated of the reality of those who have less. There is a saying that states “When you practice gratefulness, there is a sense of respect towards others.”- Dalai Lama.
In the novel A long walk to Water by Linda Sue Park the two main characters Salva and Nya are two children living in the middle of a war in Southern Sudan 1985, facing a harsh reality of a sequence of extreme challenges and events presented to them at an early age. This novel is a perfect example of learning to appreciate and being grateful for the small things we take for granted each day. The novel is divided into two storylines that present the theme of survival in a unique way. Both children fight on a daily basis for the basic necessities of nutrition and safety. The book shows In addition to striving to survive both children have hope a crucial element to surviving. Having hope and being of strong character is almost as important as oxygen and water. A trait that both children have in common is the love they have for their family and relationships that motivates them to continue pushing through to overcome the struggles their presented with.
In the novel Salva is faced by the reality that the concern for one’s own survival overpowers the need to help others as well. There are several scenarios we are presented with that adults that are against the government just like Salva refuse to give him protection, food and water to save themselves. Even though Salva is a child who lost his family at war, the adults worry because he is a child he will slow them down and be an extra weight on the team. In one scene Salva identified a group of adults that were from his tribe and village and had hope they would take him with them. The tribe began speaking within themselves and said “He is a child. He will slow us down. Another mouth to feed? It is already hard enough to find food.” “He is too young to do any real work- he’ll be no help to us.” (Park 20) Although Salva is a lost, defenseless child fleeing from the war just like they are the adults are taking in consideration their own wellbeing before anyone else’s.
To survive in treacherous time people need to want to survive, which requires finding a source of strength, determination, and hope. Salva has shown his desire to survive throughout the novel repeatedly. The narrator show how important hope is through the relationship between Salva and his uncle Jewiir. Uncle Jewiir teaches Salva how to remain positive and hopeful even when it seems that there is no escape out of the situation. One of the most touching scenes in the book was when, Salva collapses in the middle of the desert, overcome not only by hunger and thirst, but by despair. “Uncle continued to do this for the rest of the walk.
Each time, he spoke to Salva using his full name. Each time Salva would think of his family and his village, and he was somewhat able to keep his wounded feet, moving one step at a time.” (Park 70) Uncle Jewiir encourages Salva to keep moving, urging him to make progress by focusing on taking one step at a time. Jewiir is a very wise man his purpose is to teach Salva that the key to holding onto hope is concentrating on completing one task at a time instead of becoming overwhelmed by the enormity of the greater goal. If Salva were to stop and think about what is asked of him to complete walking in the scorching dessert all the way into Ethiopia—he might give up. Instead, his uncle keeps pushing him and giving him tough love calling him by his full name. Salva continues having hope and being strong to continue forward in his journey to the refugee camp. At the same time he continues to be strong for the sake of the memory of his family and village.
Although Salva believes his family has perished their memory helps him get through his daily struggles. It is his family that gives him strength and guidance during his horrific experience in his journey. Every time Salva faces a tough situation he thinks of his parents. “Marial was gone. Uncle was too gone, murdered by those Neur men right before Salva’s eyes. Marial and uncle were no longer by his side, and they would never be again, but Salva knew that both of them would have wanted him to survive, to finish the trip and reach the refugee camp safely. It was almost as if they had left their strength with him, to help him on his journey.” (Park 80) In the midst of his sadness Salva feels stronger. His tough journey has made him a warrior. There is a saying that says “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”-Friedrich Nietzsche a German philosopher. As a child Salva has had to grow up and be tough even when all he needed was the comfort of his parents. He faced the war without looking back, always forward. He always mediates on knowing the true desires of his family.
Park demonstrated significant and powerful words throughout the novel making things feel the physical reality of how people struggled to survive in need of water and a safety A Long Walk to Water also focuses on the mental and emotional aspects of struggling to survive. It’s not enough to have food, water, and be walking by others of your tribe. There has to be hope to overcome obstacles and tomorrow will be better than yesterday. Salva’s hope to have a re encounter with his family kept him strong and unshakeable throughout the storms. Family was the theme that kept Salva driven throughout the story. Next time you see your family hug them a little tighter because it is a privilege.
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