Of all the difficulties that Salva has faced, which do you think is the worst?

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Salva faces various difficulties while running away from the war in Southern Sudan. One of the worst is when he is abandoned by his fellow villagers, from the village of Loun-Ariik, at the start of their journey. Even though none of the group members comes from his family, he knows...

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Salva faces various difficulties while running away from the war in Southern Sudan. One of the worst is when he is abandoned by his fellow villagers, from the village of Loun-Ariik, at the start of their journey. Even though none of the group members comes from his family, he knows a few of them and is thus comfortable in their presence. He must have been scared to be all alone in a foreign place with the sound of gunshots and heavy fighting to be heard not far away. Fortunately, he meets an old woman who offers him food, shelter, and company. However, four days later, the old woman tells him that they have to part, as she has to move to another village and cannot move with him. His luck returns when the old woman asks another group of travelers to take him in so that he is not on his own.

Another major obstacle that Salva faces is the disappearance of his friend Marial. It seems that Marial is mauled by a lion as he is sleeping in the camp at night. Afterward, Salva is terrified of sleeping on his own, in spite of the protection offered to him by his uncle Jewiir.

The journey through the Akobo desert is another big difficulty that the travelers face. The vegetation in the desert is scanty and offers little protection from the sun’s rays. Also, since Salva’s shoes are worn out, he has to walk barefoot and is tormented by the desert thorns that prick the soles of his feet. To make matters worse, Salva stumbles on a rock somewhere along the way and loses a toenail. His first day in the desert is filled with so many challenges that Salva almost gives up. His uncle Jewiir is his only source of inspiration at this point in time. However, just as they near the end of the desert, the group chances on a group of Nuer fighters who raid their camp and kill uncle Jewiir. It would appear that this would be the final straw to break Salva’s back, yet, in his own words, “he could not think of any other explanation for the way he felt. But there was no doubt: Beneath his terrible sadness, he felt stronger.”

In 1991, after six years in the Itang refugee camp, the life of Salva and many other refugees is disrupted again by the abrupt closing of the refugee camp. The worst part of it is that the refugees are mercilessly chased away from the camp and forced into the dangerous waters of the fast-flowing River Gilo by Ethiopian soldiers. The soldiers even shoot at the desperate refugees. In the river, the refugees face “the rain, the mad current, the bullets, the crocodiles, the welter of arms and legs, the scream, the blood.” At least one thousand people die in the process. After this incident, Salva resolves to travel south to Kenya. He leads a large group of about one thousand and two hundred boys to a refugee camp in Kenya. It takes them about a year and a half.

It would seem that of all the tribulations that Salva faces, losing his uncle Jewiir in the Akobo desert is the most heart-wrenching.

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