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The novel "Wild" written by Cheryl Strayed, is a memoir about the author's experiences on her 1,100 mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail and the reasons that drove her to hike the trail. In the novel, the author emphasizes the interaction between an individual and the environment which then leads to theme of how nature can act as an individual's escape from reality and can serve as a place for change.
In the beginning of the book, Cheryl Strayed decided that she wanted to hike the PCT on her own. She made this irrational decision because of several reasons, such as the use of drugs and being unfaithful to her husband which then led to her divorce. But one that drove her to the edge was her mother's death. As a result, she wanted to get away from everything in her past and this is when she made the decision to hike. A hike that can change her views in life. An example of this is when the text mentions "Like I'd found an actual planet that I didn't know had been there all along..The place where there was no pain,where it was unfortunate but essentially okay that my mother was dead and my biological father was not in my life and my family had collapsed and I couldn't stay married to the man I loved." (p.53) This piece of evidence shows how Cheryl sees her life. Although her life is falling apart, the hike is giving her an escape from her reality and her problems. The hike is giving Cheryl the time to reflect and to let go of all the negativity that she is carrying within herself. This connects to the theme of how nature can be an individual's escape from reality and can be a place for change.
Throughout the novel, Cheryl starts to face and conquer challenges that could change the way she sees things. She overcame challenges mentally and physically such as hiking in bad weather, not being prepared with any hiking experience and fighting against her own self and emotions. For example, this is seen in the text when Cheryl starts to have emotional breakdowns, it says "Because I was a big fat idiot and I didn't know what the hell I was doing, that's what. And I was alone in the wilderness with a beast of load to carry while finding that out." (p.58) In this part of the text, it shows how Cheryl is letting the hike take over her and now she is second guessing her decision of taking on this hike. Although Cheryl is going through things during the hike, she still isn't giving up. The challenges during the hike will only help shape her as a person and make her stronger. This connects back to the theme of nature being an escape from reality and can be a place for change.
As Cheryl's journey comes to an end, this is the time where she develops as a person and sees things she has been blind to. As Cheryl's journey comes to an end, she finally learns to let go of her past and accept things the way that they currently are. This is seen in the text when she she finally let go of her mother. In the text it says".."This idea is seen in the novel when Cheryl says "The PCT has gotten easier for me, but that was different from it getting easy. There were pleasant mornings and lovely swaths of afternoon, ten mile stretches that I'd glide over while barely feeling a thing." (p.275). Now that she has almost completed her journey, she is focusing more on how happy and better the hike made her feel. She fought through the pain, loneliness, flashbacks and all the horrible things that happened before the hike. Another example of how Cheryl grew as a result of the hike is when the text mentions "I didn't feel sad or happy. I didn't feel sad or ashamed. I only felt that in spite of all the things I'd done wrong, in getting myself here, I'd done right." (p.189). Here, Cheryl is a completely different person, the hike and nature itself
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