"A Long Walk to Water," Vocabulary from Chapters 9-13

A harrowing tale of survival, Linda Sue Park's "A Long Walk to Water," based on a true story, is dramatic and stirring. Told as two separate stories, their eventual intersection is an amazing, touching climax.

Learn this word list that focuses on war. Here are links to our lists for the novel: Chapters 1-3, Chapters 4-8, Chapters 9-13, Chapter 14-Notes

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. endure
    continue to live through hardship or adversity
    But here in the desert, nothing green could survive except tiny evergreen acacia bushes, which somehow endured the long winter months with almost no water.
    Compare with the synonymous "survive" in this list: both verbs are used in this example sentence, and both example sentences use the verbs to emphasize the need for water. The Latin root of "endure" connects closely to hardship ("durare" means "to harden"), while "survive" connects more closely to life ("vivere" means "to live").
  2. relentless
    The sun was relentless and eternal: There was neither wisp of cloud nor whiff of breeze for relief.
    The given definition makes "relentless" synonymous with "eternal" (both mean "never-ending"). But "relentless" also means "not to be appeased or moved by entreaty"--this would make the sun seem like an uncaring god who is not answering the people's prayers for relief.
  3. arid
    lacking sufficient water or rainfall
    Each minute of walking in that arid heat felt like an hour.
  4. parched
    dried out by heat or excessive exposure to sunlight
    His lips became cracked and parched.
  5. quench
    satisfy, as thirst
    It was the hardest thing Salva had ever done, taking only tiny sips when his body cried out for huge gulps of thirst- quenching, life-giving water.
  6. indicate
    give evidence of
    There was not a thing to indicate that the group was making any progress at all across the desert.
  7. shimmer
    shine with a weak or fitful light
    The fierce heat sent up shimmering waves that made everything look wobbly.
  8. hollow
    not solid; having a space or gap or cavity
    Salva looked at the hollow eyes and the cracked lips of the men lying on the hot sand, and his own mouth felt so dry that he nearly choked when he tried to swallow.
    "Hollow" also means "devoid of significance or point"--this could describe the dying men's outlook on life, but the example sentence focuses more on the physical hollowness of the eyes that is due to a lack of water and food.
  9. survive
    continue to live through hardship or adversity
    Without water you will not survive the rest of the walk.
  10. revive
    give new life or energy to
    Like a miracle, the small amounts of water revived them.
    Compare with "survive" in this list--both come from the Latin verb "vivere" but "re" means "again" while "super" means "over" so reviving, as supported by this example sentence, is often seen as more miraculous than surviving.
  11. ravaged
    having been robbed and destroyed by force and violence
    He felt sick at the thought of those men—first dying in such a horrible way, and then having even their corpses ravaged.
  12. recede
    become faint or more distant
    Early that afternoon, they came across the first evidence that the desert was receding: a few stunted trees near a shallow pool of muddy water.
  13. unfit
    below the required standards for a purpose
    The water was unfit to drink, but a dead stork lay by the pond’s edge.
  14. doubtful
    fraught with uncertainty
    The earth was dry and rock-hard. Nya felt puzzled and doubtful: How could there be water in such a place?
  15. emaciated
    very thin especially from disease or hunger or cold
    It did not seem as if the camp could possibly hold any more, but still they kept coming: long lines of people, some emaciated, some hurt or sick, all exhausted.
  16. clangor
    a loud resonant repeating noise
    The clangor of machinery and hammer greeted Nya each time she returned from the pond—unfamiliar noises that mingled with the voices of men shouting and women singing.
    Compare with "din" in this list--the nouns are synonymous, but "clangor" is an onomatopoeic word that sounds like metal, while "din" can be any mixture of loud or confusing noises. Both words usually have an unpleasant sense, which would be true for a screaming crowd and pouring rain, but here, "clangor" connects to the friendly verb "greet" and to the voices of working men and women shouting and singing.
  17. despair
    a state in which all hope is lost or absent
    He felt as though he were standing on the edge of a giant hole—a hole filled with the black despair of nothingness.
  18. torrent
    a violently fast stream of water or other liquid
    The rain, which was falling in torrents, added to the uproar.
  19. merciless
    having or showing no forgiveness
    Swollen by the rains, the Gilo’s current would be merciless.
    "Mercy" means "a disposition to be kind and forgiving"--the use of the adjective "merciless" personifies the river (similar to how "relentless" can make the sun seem like a god); this makes the refugees' situation seem worse, since on one side, they have soldiers with guns, and on the other, they have a river--both of which are mean enough to kill.
  20. discouraged
    made less hopeful or enthusiastic
    The drilling crew was discouraged by the leaks.
  21. earnestly
    in a serious manner
    The boss would encourage the workers and laugh and joke with them. If that didn’t work, he would talk to them earnestly and try to persuade them. And if that didn't work, he would get angry.
  22. prod
    poke or thrust abruptly
    The soldiers were forcing some of them into the water, prodding them with their rifle butts, shooting into the air.
  23. din
    a loud harsh or strident noise
    Perhaps he was screaming, but Salva could not hear him over the din of the crowd and the rain...
  24. surface
    the outermost level of the land or sea
    Salva was forced under the surface without time to take more than a quick, shallow breath.
  25. welter
    a confused multitude of things
    The rain, the mad current, the bullets, the crocodiles, the welter of arms and legs, the screams, the blood...
    As a verb, "welter" has more of a connection to water: "toss, roll, or rise and fall in an uncontrolled way, usually because of high seas"--although the example sentence uses the word as a noun, the verb is also suggested because the welter of arms and legs, tossed by the mad current of the river, is rising and falling as the people are trying not to drown, be shot, or eaten by crocodiles.

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