A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park is rife with conflicts. Essentially every classic conflict structure is represented, from man vs. man to man vs. environment to man vs. self. Here are five major conflicts in the novel.
1. Salva vs. the Sudanese Civil War
The biggest source of conflict in Salva's part of the story is the civil war that is tearing apart his country. This war causes Salva to lose his home, his family, and almost (on more than one occasion) his life.
2. Nya vs. the Long Walk to Water
This is the biggest source of conflict for Nya. Nya's literal long walk to water is physically dangerous and draining and prevents her from other important activities, like going to school.
3. Salva vs. the Search for Family
Besides the physical danger, Salva's loss of family is the greatest danger posed by the war. Salva spends the entire novel losing people—his parents, his friend, and his uncle. His search resolves at the end of the novel when he is adopted and finally makes contact with his biological father many years later.
4. Nya vs. Akeer's Illness
Another consequence of the water shortage is the danger of drinking contaminated water. Akeer, Nya's little sister, becomes very ill from a waterborne illness, which causes a major source of conflict for Nya and her family until Akeer recovers.
5. Dinka vs. Nuer
Zooming out from the two protagonists, the lasting conflict between their tribes propels a variety of plot elements. This tribal conflict impacts both Nya and Salva. Ultimately, a small bridge is formed between the two tribes when Nya meets Salva (a Dinka) and recognizes his act of service to her Nuer village.