WORD LISTS

"A Long Walk to Water," Vocabulary from Chapters 1-3

March 26, 2014
As you read Linda Sue Park's "A Long Walk to Water," 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
aimless
When one of them managed to kill a ground squirrel or a rabbit, a guinea hen or a grouse, the boys’ aimless play halted and there was suddenly a lot of work to do.
opinion
Salva had his own opinion of how the fire should be built and how long the meat needed to cook, and so did each of the others.
hunch
Some of the boys moved at once, ducking their heads and hunching over.
urgent
“Go quickly, all of you,” the teacher said, his voice low and urgent. “Into the bush. Do you hear me? Not home. Don’t run home. They will be going into the villages. Stay away from the villages—run into the bush.”
rebel
In Latin, "re" means "against" and "bellare" means "to make war." Adjectives that could be used to describe the rebels are "bellicose" ("having a ready disposition to fight") and "belligerent" ("characteristic of one eager to fight").
Salva did not understand much about it, but he knew that rebels from the southern part of Sudan, where he and his family lived, were fighting against the government, which was based in the north.
scattered
The fighting was scattered all around southern Sudan, and now the war had come to where Salva lived.
scramble
The boys scrambled to their feet. Some of them were crying.
veer
"Sleek" means "having a smooth, gleaming surface reflecting light"--this description and the act of veering don't seem to suggest evil. The simile that compares the jet plane to an evil bird focuses on the similarities between 1) the way they fly; 2) their search for prey to kill. Additionally, a sleek jet plane is not a natural sighting in a dirt-filled village, so this adds to the feeling of evil.
Overhead, a jet plane veered away like a sleek evil bird.
tense
The Latin "tensus" is the past participle of the verb "tendere" which means "to stretch out" (which can also be seen in "extend")--here, the author stretches out the scene and fills the readers with tension by describing how the villagers are tense with fear and uncertainty about the attack, the dark, and what's going to happen next.
At first, everyone stood around uncertainly, speaking in tense whispers or silent with fear.
fierce
Their guns were not pointed at the crowd, but even so, the soldiers seemed fierce and watchful.
surrounded
Some of the rebels then joined the back of the line; now the villagers were surrounded.
separate
The soldiers ordered them to separate into two groups—men in one group, women and children and the elderly in the other.
approach
A soldier approached Salva and raised his gun.
gleaming
All he could see was the gun’s huge barrel, black and gleaming, as it moved toward his face.
collapse
If I die now, I will never see my family again.
Somehow, this thought strengthened him enough to keep him from collapsing in terror.
mortar
The village men were forced to carry supplies: guns and mortars, shells, radio equipment.
protest
Salva watched as one man protested that he did not want to go with the rebels. A soldier hit him in the face with the butt of a gun.
restless
Salva tossed restlessly in the itchy hay.
hazy
On the far horizon, the sky was hazy from the smoke of the bombs.
claim
No one, it seemed, was sure where Nuer land ended and Dinka land began, so each tribe tried to lay claim to the areas richest in water.
flinch
Salva flinched at her glance.
uncertainty
But at least he was not alone now, and that knowledge was stronger than the uncertainty about what the woman might do or say to him.
artillery
During the daytime, Salva could hear the distant booming of artillery from the fighting a few miles away.
desperately
The antonym of "desperately" is "hopefully" and this can be seen more clearly in the Latin roots: "de" means "reversal" and "sperare" means "to hope" (compare with "despair" in the list for Chapters 9-13).
With every shell that exploded he would think of his family, hoping they were safe, wondering desperately when he would be with them again.
panic
Salva stared at her as panic rose inside him.

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