A Long Walk to Water

Uncle Jewiir Character Analysis

Uncle Jewiir, the uncle of Salva Dut, is a former South Sudanese soldier. During the middle portion of the book, Jewiir acts as a guardian and protector to Salva, while they and thousands of others migrate across Sudan in search of a safe refugee camp. Because of his military training, his gun, and his helpful nature, Jewiir becomes the de facto leader of the refugees. However, he’s later murdered by soldiers from the North. Jewiir’s death is a traumatic event for Salva, who is forced to fend for himself and beg for food without Jewiir to protect him. However, Jewiir’s example of strong and calm leadership continues to inspire Salva. There are many times in the book when Salva, on the verge of giving up, remembers Jewiir’s encouragement to move “one step at a time.” In this sense, Jewiir is an important influence in Salva’s life—and in some ways, a father-figure to Salva.

Uncle Jewiir Quotes in A Long Walk to Water

The A Long Walk to Water quotes below are all either spoken by Uncle Jewiir or refer to Uncle Jewiir. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Survival Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt edition of A Long Walk to Water published in 2011.
Chapter 6 Quotes

As Salva spoke, Uncle nodded or shook his head. His face became very solemn when Salva told him that he had not seen nor heard a single word of his family in all that time. Salva's voice trailed of, and he lowered his head. He was glad to see Uncle again, but it looked as if he might not be much help either.
Uncle was quiet for a moment. Then he patted Salva’s shoulder. "Eh, Nephew!" he said in a cheerful voice. "We are together now, so I will look after you!"

Related Characters: Uncle Jewiir (speaker), Salva Dut
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 9 Quotes

Soon he was crying so hard that he could hardly get his breath. He could not think; he could barely see. He had to slow down, and for the first rime on the long journey, he began to lag behind the group. Stumbling about blindly, he did not notice the group drawing farther and farther ahead of him.
As if by magic, Uncle was suddenly at his side.
[…]
Salva lifted his head, the sobs interrupted by surprise.
"Do you see that group of bushes?" Uncle said, pointing. "You need only to walk as far as those bushes.

Related Characters: Uncle Jewiir (speaker), Salva Dut
Related Symbols: Steps
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 10 Quotes

He knows it will be hard for me, Salva realized. He does not want to leave me there, but he has to go back and fight for our people. I mustn’t act like a bay—I must try to be strong …

Related Characters: Salva Dut (speaker), Uncle Jewiir
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 12 Quotes

How can I go on without them?
But 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.
What was it Uncle had said during that first terrible day in the desert? "Do you see that group of bushes? You need only to walk as far as those bushes . . .”
Uncle had helped him get through the desert that way, bit by bit, one step at a time. Perhaps . . . perhaps Salva could get through life at the camp in the same way.

Related Characters: Salva Dut (speaker), Uncle Jewiir (speaker)
Related Symbols: Steps
Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 17 Quotes

Whenever he found himself losing hope, Salva would take a deep breath and think of his uncle’s words.
A step at as time.
One problem at a time—just figure out this one problem.
Day by day, solving one problem at a time, Salva moved toward his goal.

Related Characters: Salva Dut, Uncle Jewiir
Related Symbols: Steps
Page Number: 110
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Uncle Jewiir Character Timeline in A Long Walk to Water

The timeline below shows where the character Uncle Jewiir appears in A Long Walk to Water. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6
Survival Theme Icon
Social Strife Theme Icon
...woken up to the sound of his own name. He turns and sees his Uncle Jewiir, the brother of his father. Jewiir has fought for the army, and Salva hasn’t seen... (full context)
Survival Theme Icon
The group proceeds through Atuot land. Salva and Marial walk together with Uncle Jewiir. One day, the group walks for ten hours straight in the hopes of finding a... (full context)
Survival Theme Icon
That night, Jewiir wakes Salva up. He says, “I am sorry, Salva. Your friend …” (full context)
Chapter 7
Survival Theme Icon
Salva walks with the rest of the group, thinking about what Jewiir has told him. Martial is gone, and in this part of the country, his disappearance... (full context)
Survival Theme Icon
Social Strife Theme Icon
...Nile River, the longest river in the world. This also means they’re almost in Ethiopia. Jewiir assures Salva that they’ll all be able to cross the water. (full context)
Chapter 8
Survival Theme Icon
Hope and Resilience Theme Icon
...and his group paddle across the Nile River. Salva sits in a canoe with Uncle Jewiir, who paddles hard. After many hours, the boats arrive at an island in the middle... (full context)
Chapter 9
Survival Theme Icon
Hope and Resilience Theme Icon
...has very little water left. At one point, he slows down and nearly collapses. Uncle Jewiir uses Salva’s full name to urge him to keep walking, a step at a time.... (full context)
Chapter 10
Survival Theme Icon
Hope and Resilience Theme Icon
Development Theme Icon
...desert. Salva is tempted to share some of his own water with the men, but Jewiir prevents him from doing so—Salva is too young to give up his water. After a... (full context)
Survival Theme Icon
Hope and Resilience Theme Icon
Social Strife Theme Icon
Development Theme Icon
On the third and final day in the desert, Salva talks to Uncle Jewiir about his family. He wants to know if he’ll be able to find them, and... (full context)
Survival Theme Icon
Social Strife Theme Icon
...demand to know where the group is headed, and if they’re “with the rebels.” Uncle Jewiir denies this, and explains that they’re headed to a refugee camp. The men tie him... (full context)
Survival Theme Icon
...they’ve stolen everything they can. But one of the soldiers fires three shots at Uncle Jewiir, and only then do the six soldiers run away. (full context)
Chapter 11
Survival Theme Icon
Social Strife Theme Icon
Development Theme Icon
Salva and the others bury Uncle Jewiir in a hole. The group doesn’t walk anymore that day. Instead, they stop to pay... (full context)
Survival Theme Icon
Now that Jewiir is dead, Salva has no choice but to beg for food. The other people in... (full context)
Chapter 12
Hope and Resilience Theme Icon
...she’s his mother. But as Salva chases after the woman, he suddenly realizes what Uncle Jewiir had been hinting at: that his family is dead and he’s “all alone.” He wonders... (full context)