A Long Walk to Water

by Linda Sue Park

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

The two narratives of A Long Walk To Water each contain their own set of characters, listed below.

Salva Dut

Salva is the story's protagonist and the main character in the 1980s narrative. His character is also based on a real person's life and experiences. When we first meet Salva, he is an eleven-year-old boy living in southern Sudan. He is part of the Dinka tribe and lives in a small village with his extended family. When his village is attacked, Salva joins a group that is fleeing the fighting. Salva ends up leading many young boys like himself to the relative safety of several refugee camps. He is later adopted by a family in Rochester, New York. As a young man, Salva returns to his village and is reunited with his father. He then dedicates himself to supplying fresh water to villages like his through the organization he creates, Water for South Sudan.

Uncle Jewiir

Jewiir is Salva's uncle, who joins him on their long walk. A former soldier, Jewiir is Salva's main source of comfort during their journey. It is likely that, without his uncle's calm reassurance and support, Salva would not be able to endure as much as he does. Jewiir's knowledge and experience cause others in the group to turn to him as well. When Jewiir is murdered by northern Sudanese soldiers, Salva is forced to continue on without him.


Marial is one of Salva's close friends. They flee together, but it is not long before Marial disappears. It is presumed that he has been eaten by a lion.


When Salva is at a refugee center, he meets Michael, an aid worker from Ireland. Michael takes a liking to Salva and teaches him how to read English.

Chris and Louise

Salva is eventually adopted by Chris and Louise, an American couple who bring him to Rochester, New York.


Nya is the main character of the 2000s narrative. Like Salva, her character is also based on a real person. Nya spends most of her time walking back and forth to a pond several miles away from her village, where she collects water. It is because of Salva's efforts to bring water to her village that she is finally able to spend her time getting an education rather than collecting water.


Nya's five-year-old sister, Akeer, is sick with a gut infection, likely from drinking untreated water.

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