Walk Across America Essay

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate December 2001

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Walk Across America I feel like Peter Jennings wrote this book to show the American public that there is still good in the country and people of this great nation. Before Peter began his journey He was questioning whether or not he wanted to remain a citizen of the United States. He had many disappointments in his life and he felt that maybe it was time for a change. He was disappointed with where his life was taking him. He had failed at love, school, was tired of America at war, tired of drugs, alcohol, and was ready to give up on America. He thought that he would give America one last chance to prove herself as a country. He made up his mind that he would walk across America and prove that there was no good left and that there was no reason to stay a citizen of this country.

As he began his journey and his story he soon found out how great our country was. He came in contact with some of the most amazing people in the world. Throughout his journey he decided that America for the most part still have good people and is worth staying in to live. I feel like we can relate how Peter felt in the beginning of the novel to the way many Americans felt before our horrific terrorist attacks that took place September 11, 2001. In many ways Americans were disgusted with crime, the government, ongoing war efforts in foreign countries, and many other reasons for doubting America and the people who inhabit the United States. When the recent terrorist attacks happened in New York it proved to me and many other Americans that we still live in the greatest country in the world. Our country is not perfect but no country is. The way that our nation has rallied together to help those in distress and stand up for our country has rejuvenated our strength as a nation and has once again united us and brought us closer together. Peter offered hope and helped Americans realize that no matter how bad the world gets if we stick together as a nation and help each other out that we can survive and maintain as the greatest country in the world. That is what Peter realized on his trip across America. He realized that this country is as good as it gets and he reminds us how we should act towards our fellow Americans. The reason that we needed to hear this is because our country was falling apart by the second and he wanted to show that there was still good people and that America is still the greatest place to live.

The relationship between Peter and Cooper was one of love, respect, protection, companionship, and friendship. The most obvious value between Cooper and Peter was love. Peter loved his dog like a brother and would do anything for him. Cooper loved Peter and protected him and offered a companion for the long trip across America. Without Cooper to keep peter company he would have been easily discouraged and would have given up on his dream to walk across America. Cooper protected his master from wild dogs, other wildlife, mean humans, and warmed him of danger wherever it lurked. Cooper proved his love to Peter by protecting him from German Shepard attacks, six wild hunting dogs, and snakes. Peter proved his love for Cooper by taking care of him by feeding him, grooming him, and getting help for him when cooper was in trouble with the porcupine. Peter referred to Coop as his best friend throughout the novel and was even willing to die for him while staying with his black family at Smokey Hollow. When a drunk man tried to shoot his dog Peter came out of the house and saved Coop by talking away the man. You really got a sense for how much Coop meant to Peter when Coop was killed by the truck. Peter was devastated and mourned for nine days before continuing on his journey. The two were inseparable until death.

My favorite part of the book would have to be when Peter met Mary Elizabeth and her family and she invited him to live with her and her sons. The reason that I liked this part of the book is because I have never really been around that many black people and I think that it would be a great experience to meet and stay with a family. I can't stand someone who is racist and I thought it was great for Peter to show that blacks and whites can get along if they try. Racism is one of the most ignorant thoughts that anyone can have. To judge a whole race is wrong and, I feel that everyone should be treated equally. I feel like you need to get to know the person before you can judge someone. I thought that it was great how Mary Elizabeth took Peter in as one of her own and would have done anything to protect him. When the bootleggers came and were ready to shoot Peter and his dog Mary Elizabeth and her husband and children were ready to stand up and fight for her new albino son. I really liked how he joined the black community and got along fine with them and how the black members of society showed hospitality towards him. I felt that this was very neat because to often we as Americans hear how hate crimes evolve and many people are hurt all because of skin color and ethnic heritage. I hope that maybe one day I might get to experience something like this and I might be able to fit in as well as Peter.

I think that Peter was looking for a reason to call America his home country. He wanted to find out what was out there past what he was brought up in. He wanted to find out if this was how everyone lived or if there were other ways of life in America. He was curious to learn the ways of other people in the country and find out if he was missing out on anything. When he began his journey he didn't have a clue that he would meet some of the most remarkable people in the world. The first real member of society that attracts the attention of Peter is an old mountain man named Homer. Homer taught Peter many things but most of all he showed Peter that there were more ways to live tan city life. Homer taught Peter how to survive in the mountains and not to be so judgmental of people by the way they look. He showed Peter how to live off the land and there are pure ways to live away from society. He proved to be the first person to really make a stamp on Peter and showed him the ways of a mountain man. Peter had no clue that he would meet a black family that would take him in as their own and learn to love each other. Peter lived with this family for five months while he replenished his finances for the remainder of the trip. He became so close that he even called them his second family. This family taught him to see past race and judge the person for who they are. Peter learned about hospitality and how to be nice to people no matter what. His family stuck by him through every problem he encountered and it helped him understand true love. Now that he knew what true love was he was ready for a relationship and it soon came with Barbara he would meet and marry her the girl that could make him happy and be his new best friend t continue his journey across America in search of good people and interesting places. I think that Peter did find what he was looking for and he realized that America is the greatest country and has many interesting people and places to visit. I think that he found all that he sat out to find life, love, happiness, and great people to live amongst.