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God Grew Tired of Us: A Memoirby John Bul Dau
Synopses & Reviews
1. After his village was shelled, John Dau began his journey (p. 6) by describing what he lacked: clothing, food, water, family, and safety. Yet he survived to become a success in America. What advantages, if any, did he have over other Sudanese refugees? What do you think was the most important reason he survived?
2. Chapter 1 opens with the words In the beginning . . . and describes the ancient Dinka story of a man named Ayuel being cast down to earth from heaven. What insights about a modern Dinka's life story might be gained by starting with such an ancient tale? In what ways does Ayuel resemble other religious or literary figures?
3. John believed his clan of Dinka was predestined to be leaders because Ayuel gave them the spirit of Deng Pajarbe (p. 18). Do you believe that holding such a belief can make a significant difference in one's character? How might it have made a difference in John's?
4. John's father was a famous wrestler in southern Sudan. John said that to be a village's champion wrestler was to be like the winner of the World Series or the Super Bowl (p. 21). How might wrestling be an appropriate metaphor for John's memoir? What ideas did he wrestle with as he struggled to survive?
5. John said (p. 35), Sometimes all you can do is keep going, even in the face of great danger. What methods did he use to cope with troubles? How effective were they?
6. John admitted the Dinka don't embrace change easily. What cultural values do the Dinka hold most dear? How did those values influence John's life as a Lost Boy in Africa? In America?
7. John's rescuer Abraham lied (p. 49) when he said they would rendezvous with John's missing parents after the shelling of Duk Payuel. He did so to motivate John to keep walking away from danger. Was it right for him to tell such a big lie to a 13-year-old boy? What would you have done in Abraham's place?
8. Journalists and relief workers christened the Lost Boys after the children in the play Peter Pan who lived without adult supervision. The Lost Boys of Sudan had a few adult caretakers to help them but mostly relied on themselves to survive in East African refugee camps. How did Sudan's Lost Boys act like grown-ups to increase their chances of survival? How did their youth color their actions and decisions?
9. American psychologist Abraham Maslow (1908-70) famously described a hierarchy of human needs. It characterized the most powerful needs as physical, including food, air, and sleep. Maslow said that once the most basic needs are met, a human being can turn, in decreasing order of necessity, to securing safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization, which includes morality and creativity. John talked (p. 109) about his algebra of survival. How did John Dau's view of survival match up with Maslow's hierarchy while John was in Africa? In America?
10. Are you a woman? is a terrible insult for one Dinka man to hurl at another (p. 113). The Dinka culture remains patriarchal while embracing the importance of women (p. 254). Re-read Martha's first-person account of being courted by John (pp. 250-53). How do Dinka women compare with Western women in their relationships with men? Would you characterize Dinka women as strong or weak? Why do John and Martha seem to make a good couple?
11. An Episcopal priest in Kakuma compared the Lost Boys to the
The harrowing consequences and horrors of the Sudanese civil war come to life in an inspirational, eyewitness account that describes one man's experiences, from the terror and violence of his homeland, to his tortuous escape, to the culture shock he experienced as he struggled to adjust to a new life in America. Reprint. 17,500 first printing.
Lost Boy John Bul Dau's harrowing experience surviving the brutal horrors of Sudanese civil war and his adjustment to life in modern America is chronicled in this inspiring memoir andfeatured in an award-winning documentary film of the same name. Movingly written, the book traces Dau's journey through hunger, exhaustion, terror, and violence as he fled his homeland, dodging ambushes, massacres and attacks by wild animals. His tortuous, 14-year journey began in 1987, when he was just 13, and took him on a 1,000-mile walk, barefoot, to Ethiopia, back to Sudan, then to a refugee camp in Kenya, where helived with thousands of other Lost Boys. In 2001, at the age of 27, he immigrated to the United States. With touching humor, Dau recounts the shock of his tribal culture colliding with life in America. He shares the joy ofreuniting with his family and the challenges of making a new life for himself while never forgetting the other Lost Boys he left behind.
About the Author
John Bul Dau is a Dinka from Southern Sudan and one of thousands of Lost Boys who fled their homeland during Sudanese civil war. He found shelter at refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya before coming to Syracuse, New York, where he now lives with his wife and his daughter.
Michael S. Sweeney is a professor of journalism at Utah State University. He is the author of the acclaimed book Secrets of Victory, which was named 2001 Book of the Year by the American Journalism Historians Association.
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