A Long Walk to Water


Linda Sue Park

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A Long Walk to Water: Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

In Nya’s village, Nya’s father organizes the well-builders. He hints that they’re about to build something new.
The changes in Nya’s community don’t end with the building of the well; instead, the well seems to be the first of many changes for the better.
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After a month in Rochester, Salva is still disoriented by his new life. The roads are paved and the cars whizz by at all hours of the day. The buildings have electricity. He focuses on learning English, partly so that he has a way of distracting himself from his memories. His English improves quickly and, remembering Michael’s lesson, he joins a local volleyball team.
Just as he has done in the past, Salva manages to adjust to his new circumstances with impressive grace and maturity. He finds ways of amusing himself, and throws himself into learning a new language, English.
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Six years go by. Salva is accepted to college, where he plans to study business. Someday, he wants to go back to Sudan and help people—even though he doesn’t really know how he could do this.
Evidently, Salva feels a strong need to help other people. Park implies that this is part of the reason he was able to lead over a thousand boys to safety at the height of the Second Sudanese Civil War.
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One day, Salva receives an email from his cousin, who lives in Zimbabwe. To Salva’s utter amazement, the email explains that his father is alive, and is staying in a United Nations clinic in Sudan. After many frustrating months of trying to contact the U.N., Salva manages to arrange a flight back to Sudan. After hours of air travel and riding buses, Salva arrives at a makeshift hospital organized by the U.N., where he greets a nurse and tells her that he’s looking for Mawien Dut Ariik.
The chapter ends with the stunning revelation that Salva’s father is alive, after all. Previously, it seemed Salva had accepted that his entire family was dead—but now, as if by a miracle, it turns out that he was wrong.
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