“The struggle you’re in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow” says Robert Tew
“The struggle you’re in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow” says Robert Tew. This means that although life is full of difficult and challenging obstacles, people need to stay strong and not give up. Life’s obstacles, help people develop strength and confidence for greater success or accomplishments in the future. The novel, A Long Walk To Water by Linda Sue Park, demonstrates this through the life of an 11-year old boy named Salva Dut, who lives in South Sudan. It all starts when he is separated from his family because of the Second Sudanese Civil War. He hopes that he might one day be reunited with his family but he is struggling to survive. Multiple factors that contributed to his survival were having luck, having Uncle Jewiir by his side, and having hope. With the help of these factors, determined survivors like Salva, will be able to find the future that they are hoping for.
Salva’s first survival factor was having luck. Salva survived through some obstacles along his journey, not by his physical strength and personality, but by just being lucky. When, the war came to Salva’s village he was at school. They had heard a loud noise from outside and soon realized that it was gunfire. According to the novel it states, “‘Go quickly, all of you,’ the teacher said, his voice low and urgent. ‘Into the bush. Do you hear me? Not home. Don’t run home. They will be going into the villages. Stay away from the villages-run into the bush,'”(6). It is obvious that this moment would be chaotic and people would panic, yet this shows how lucky Salva is, to not have been at home since the men with guns were going there. Salva was at the right place at the right time. If he was at home he would have not survived. In addition, when Salva met Marial for the first time it was in the Atuot region, which is home to the land of ferocious and hungry lions. As a result, some would die. In the novel it states, “Lion. A lion had been hungry enough to approach the group as they slept…It had sought out prey that was small and motionless: Marial, sleeping. And it had taken him away, leaving only a few splotches of blood near the path,”(40-41). It is clear that Marial is gone and never coming back, yet this shows how dangerous the Atuot region really is. Additionally, this demonstrates how fortunate Salva is because he was not the target and if he did die, he would not have had the opportunity to change the lives of the people who needed water in southern Sudan. To add on, at the Itang refugee camp, six years later, Salva is 17 years old and had heard that all the refugee camps were closing. Armed soldiers came, ordered them to leave Ethiopia and used their guns. They chased them to the crocodile infested Gilo River and the current was fast. Furthermore it states,” A boy next to him grabbed him around the neck and clung to him tightly. Salva was forced under the surface without time to take more than a quick, shallow breath…Stunned, Salva realized that being forced under the water had probably saved his life,”(78-79). This demonstrates that because of this boy that Salva did not even know, he did not die. It shows how lucky he is because without that simple action, Salva would not have existed to get the opportunity to go to America. He would not have created, Water for South Sudan, to help create pumps to give his people access to safe drinking water. Because of Salva and his project, many are alive today. This is why having luck was an important survival factor for Salva, because without luck he would not have survived.
Salva’s second survival factor was having Uncle Jewiir by his side. Even though, Salva travels to places that are unknown and dangerous to him, it is Uncle that supports him. When Salva had been traveling with the group and it had been a painful time since there was little food to be found, he encounters Uncle one morning in the Atuot region. Uncle had been in the army and they let him keep his gun. In the novel it states, “That very day he shot a young antelope, the kind called a topi….But it did not take long for Salva to regret his haste in eating. After so many weeks of near starvation, his stomach rebelled mightily..,”(36). It is obvious that Uncle will be beneficial to the group, yet this shows that without Uncle, Salva could have died while he was traveling. Now that Uncle is with Salva, it increases the chance of survival for Salva and many more refugees in need of help. In addition, while traveling to Ethiopia, Salva has to cross the hot and dry Akobo desert. He could die of dehydration, and what was worse is that he stubbed his bare toe on a rock. His whole toenail fell off. Furthermore, it states, “‘You need only to walk as far as those bushes’…Salva wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. He could see the bushes; they did not look too far away. Uncle reached into his bag. He took out a tamarind and handed it to Salva. Chewing on the sour juicy fruit made Salva feel a little better,”(53-54). It is obvious that uncle is someone that is understanding, yet this shows that with the help of uncle he did not give up and kept going. Uncle reminded him of what was important, that even though there are many obstacles that they will face they will have to move forward. Surprisingly, Salva’s uncle did not live long for he was killed by a group of people from the Nuer tribe that they had encountered along their trip across the desert. Now that Salva is more experienced and stronger he has shown himself to be true leader, when traveling to refugee camps in Kenya, with the memories of his beloved uncle. Such as it states “…by the end of the first day Salva had become the leader of the group of about fifteen hundred boys…Most of all, he remembered how uncle had encouraged him in the desert,”(80-81). This demonstrates that even though Uncle is not with Salva, the moments that he once had with him have been put to good use to not only help himself but others also. In the future, Salva can be a good leader when he needs it most. This increases Salva’s survival because if everyone does their part they will achieve their goal quicker and more lives will be saved. Some obstacles, no matter what strength or knowledge you have, you just can’t overcome it by yourself. This is why having Uncle with Salva was an essential survival factor because Uncle gives Salva strength, comfort, and the will to survive.
The last factor that contributed to Salva’s survival was having hope. When everything seemed lost, Salva believed in himself that he can move forward. While Salva is traveling to Ethiopia, he crosses the hot, dry and dangerous desert. It states in the novel, “… Salva would think of his family and his village, and he was somehow able to keep his wounded feet moving forward, one painful step at a time,”(54). It is obvious that Salva would struggle to go on in this environment, yet this shows that how strong Salva really is and will not lose hope. He was just a young boy and was ready to give up, but he didn’t. In the future, Salva will be able to handle more responsibilities and more difficult obstacles that he encounters. Furthermore, when Salva is at the Itang refugee camp, he realizes that he is all alone. Additionally it states in the novel, “How can I go on without them? How can I not go on? They would want me to survive… to grow up and make something of my life… to honor their memories. I need only to get through the rest of this day, he told himself. This day and no other,”(72-73). This shows that throughout everything that he has been through he knows what he has to do for himself and his family even if they are not with him. This shows how Salva has become more mature and independent since the beginning of his journey. To add on, after the soldiers chased them out from the Itang refugee camp, since all the Ethiopian camps were closing, Salva made a very important choice:He would go to the refugee camps in Kenya and he would help others too. He became the leader. According to the novel it states, “One step at a time… one day at a time. Just today- just this day to get through…Salva told himself this every day. He told the boys in the group, too. The group made its way to Kenya. More than twelve hundred boys arrived safely. It took them a year and a half,”(82). It is obvious that traveling to Kenya from Ethiopia is difficult, yet this shows how hope can make you become a better person. It made Salva become someone important, and someone that refugees needed in order to survive in order to find a better future to thrive. Without hope, Salva would have not become the person he is today, someone that played an essential part in other people’s lives and especially his own. This is why hope is a factor that contributes to Salva’s survival.
All in all, Salva survives through his difficult journey with the help of having luck, having Uncle Jewiir and having hope. He was fortunate that he had come this far in life, and that he had an amazing Uncle who supported him until his last breath. Most of all, Salva had hope in everything he did. Without hope, he would not have become who he is today, someone who lights the way for others. Linda Sue Park, teaches readers to not give up no matter what challenging obstacles people face. Park teaches us to always have hope because although it may seem hard, now it will get better. The world, is full of many people that are suffering, and their lives are changing not only because of war, but the war’s outcome. It leaves children and adults separated from the ones they need and love. It also leaves them with nothing that they need to survive. People should be more resourceful and grateful of what they have, because there are people who may not have those things. The community that humans live in is greedy, but there are people in this world like Salva, who are willing to help others who need it most. If the world would help each other to make it a better place for everyone, there would be less death.