A Long Walk to Water


Linda Sue Park

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A Long Walk to Water Themes

Themes and Colors
Survival Theme Icon
Hope and Resilience Theme Icon
Social Strife Theme Icon
Development Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in A Long Walk to Water, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.


Linda Sue Park’s A Long Walk to Water is a story about the lengths to which people will go in order to survive. The book is divided into two storylines, which remain separate until the final chapter (in fact, the final sentence). In the first storyline, set in Southern Sudan in 1985, an eleven–year-old boy named Salva Dut is forced to flee his village due to the outbreak of civil war. In the second storyline…

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Hope and Resilience

In addition to focusing on the physical realities of people struggling to survive—such as the need for water and shelter—A Long Walk to Water focuses on the psychological and emotional aspects of the struggle for survival. It’s not enough to have food and water, Park suggests. Rather, to survive in dangerous times, people need to want to survive, which requires finding a source of strength, determination, and hope.

In tough times, the book…

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Social Strife

Although it is primarily set during Sudan’s Second Civil War, A Long Walk to Water offers surprisingly little background information about the conflict. Aside from a short author’s note, the book is free from any mention of the political forces that led to the long, bloody war. Instead of going into detail about the causes of the violence in Sudan, Park portrays the effects of this violence: displaced villagers, orphaned children, and an overall sense…

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Especially in the second half of A Long Walk to Water, Park explores the theme of development—in other words, the methods that engineers, politicians, and aid workers use to improve the living conditions of people in Sudan. For the most part, the book takes an optimistic view of development, arguing that factors such as foreign aid and an influx of infrastructural development such as wells will be able to dramatically improve the situation in…

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