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Perseverance and working towards and attaining goals are central themes of the novel. Salva is taught the importance of perseverance, never losing hope, and always continuing to work towards his goals, and attain them, by his Uncle Jewiir as they are crossing the Akobo Desert. Near the end of the first day in the desert Salva's feet are sore and gored by thorns, the heat is so intense that he can hardly breathe, and he finds himself falling behind the rest of the group as he starts to give up hope. His Uncle Jewiir senses what Salva is feeling and points out a clump of bushes, telling him to just concentrate on walking there; he then points to a rock, and tells him to make his goal walking there. By doing this over and over again, Jewiir teaches Salva that nothing is too great a challenge to overcome if you divide it into smaller goals, work towards achieving them one step at a time, and never give up.