During his long walk across Sudan, Salva Dut experiences many setbacks. Sometimes, he’s just too exhausted and distraught to keep moving. However, Salva’s uncle Jewiir encourages him to keep moving by telling him to move forward “one step at a time.” Salva remembers this advice long after Jewiir’s death—as, years later, it motivates him to found a nonprofit designed to help Sudanese villagers. Throughout the book, steps symbolize the slow, deliberate, cautiously optimistic way that Salva chooses to live his life—refusing to give in to despair.
Steps Quotes in A Long Walk to Water
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.
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.
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.