take a brief look at
Glancing at her younger sister, Nya did not say what she was thinking: that Akeer, who was only five years old, was too small and walked too slowly.
an unvarying or habitual method or procedure
To the pond and back—to the pond and back—nearly a full day of walking altogether. This was Nya's daily
routine seven months of the year.
Another similar word is suggested by the example sentences to describe Nya's daily routine: "route" (which means "an established line of travel").
hang or fall in movement, progress, development, etc.
Then he caught up with the group, determined not to
lag behind, not to complain, not to be any trouble to anyone.
not giving pleasure or received with pleasure
He did not even ask where they were going, for fear that his questions would be
satisfied or showing satisfaction with things as they are
He knew only that they were Dinka and that they were trying to stay away from the war. He had to be
content with that.
a piece of ground having specific characteristics
terrain changed from scrub to woodland; they walked among stands of stunted trees.
"Stunted" means "inferior in size or quality"--this adjective describes both the woodland and scrub ("dense vegetation consisting of stunted bushes"). Although the novel starts off during the rainy season, the stunted terrain emphasizes the shortage of water in Sudan. It also makes the walk more dangerous, because they don't have shade from the sun, places to hide from the rebels, or healthy fruits to eat.
stumbled along, somehow moving one foot ahead of the other, not noticing the ground he walked on or the forest around him or the light in the sky.
walk by dragging one's feet
Usually he walked among the Dinka, but today, shuffling along in a daze, he found he had fallen a little behind.
Salva wondered sluggishly if they shouldn’t try to keep up a bit better.
make a strenuous or labored effort
struggled to keep up.
quickly and without warning
abruptly in front of a very large tree.
a grouping of a number of similar things
More people joined them—people who had been walking alone or in little
clusters of two or three.
look over carefully or inspect
Salva made it a habit to
survey the whole group every morning and evening, searching for his family.
In Latin, "super" means "over" and "videre" means "to look"--these roots suggest that "survey" is a deeper inspection than "scan" (which comes from "scandere" and means "to climb"), but the example sentences from the novel use the verbs synonymously (see "scan" in this list).
examine minutely or intensely
One evening a few weeks after Salva had joined the group, he made his usual walk around the fireside,
scanning every face in the hope of seeing a familiar one.
"Scan" is a contranym because it also has the antonymous meanings of "examine hastily" and "make a wide, sweeping search of"--because the group is large and ever-growing, Salva has to make his scan wide and sweeping. Because he does not have the time to sit and examine each face, his scan is hasty. But because he is looking for his family, he is intent on scanning each person's face as closely as possible.
a step in walking or running
When they walked side by side, their
strides were exactly the same length.
dignified and somber in manner or character
His face became very
solemn when Salva told him that he had not seen nor heard a single word of his family in all that time.
"Somber" means "grave or even gloomy in character"--this adjective seems to be more fitting for the example sentence, but "dignified" could also fit because as an older man who has been in the army, Uncle would want to keep his face calm and steady to comfort his nephew.
overly eager speed and possible carelessness
But it did not take long for Salva to regret his
haste in eating.
rise and move, as in waves or billows
heaving stomach woke him, he would hurry to the edge of the camp to vomit and find others there doing the same.
"Heave" also means "make an unsuccessful effort to vomit"--this doesn't fit the example sentence, because Salva and the others are miserably successful in their vomiting.
depleted of energy, force, or strength
For ten hours they walked, and by dawn everyone was
hold on tightly or tenaciously
clung to Uncle like a baby or a little boy, hanging on to his hand or shirttail when he could, never letting Uncle get farther than an arm’s length away.
move about aimlessly or without any destination
He would never have
wandered away from the group on his own.
Listening to Uncle, hurrying to stay close to him, Salva was able to make his feet move
despite the cold terror throughout his whole body.
The given definition is for "despite" as a noun, but it is used as a preposition in the example sentence. With the similar sense of disregarding or ignoring, "despite" means "in spite of" but it does not always include contempt or dislike. In the case of Salva here, it connects his walking to courage, because he walks despite the cold terror that makes each step difficult.
walk with great difficulty
staggered forward with yet another enormous load of reeds in his arms.
difficult to handle or manage especially because of shape
Doing something, even carrying big,
awkward piles of slippery reeds, was better than doing nothing.
the property of a more than adequate quantity or supply
It was the first place in their weeks of walking that had an
abundance of food.