Stylistic Analysis of the novel "A Walk in the Woods" by Bill Bryson

Essay by Jadels137High School, 11th grade September 2009

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A Walk in the Woods essayIn the novel A Walk in the Woods, the author Bill Bryson entertains the reader with a humorous, yet authentically personal account of his expedition along the Appalachian Trail. He carries you along through the beautiful sceneries, endless discomforts, overwhelming joys, and infinite frustrations with an honest commentary, complete only with his colorful splash of impeccable irony. The book, as well as chronicling his individual journey, also educates the reader on various topics ranging from the National Parks Service, to tales of various AT celebrities and obscurities, to the varying aggressiveness of bears according to the particular species. However, out of the many subjects that Bryson discusses, I would mainly like to focus on two: His own experience with hiking the trail and America's increasing de-appreciation for the wonders of nature. I will be looking at how the styles in which he presents these issues change or do not change throughout the book.

When the book begins, Bryson is nothing more than a naïve and inexperienced hiker with a dream to traverse the 2,600-mile AT. As the trip unfolds, his feelings towards the physical challenge of actually lugging himself across the vertical axis of the U.S. fluctuate. He experiences hiking from many legitimate perspectives: as purely a workout, as an accomplishment, and as a lovable yet loathable spouse. At first it seems like labor, "The hardest part was coming to terms with the constant dispiriting discovery that there is always more hill… Each time you haul yourself up to what you think must surely be the crest, you find that there is in fact more hill beyond, sloped at an angle that kept it from view before, and that beyond that there is another, and beyond that another and another, and beyond...