The novel is based in Sudan, a country in Africa, which has had many hardships due to the Sudanese War. The novel follows Salva, a lost boy, and Nya, a girl, as they traverse the countryside in order to escape a war and to find water respectively. There culture is very different from our own. The emphasis is on cattle. The cattle is a symbol of wealth, stature, and respect. The cattle are treated very well, as such the tribesman take very good care of them at a very young age.