Today in our literature circle we talked about the ending of the book wild. We talked about how the ending was able to give a lot of closure to the book. Another thing that really struck us with this book was that everything in it had actually happened to someone, and how Cheryl Strayed’s memoir really became a story and not a biography. The way that she wrote the book we were able to notice lots of changes to the character throughout the story. I think that change was a huge theme in this book. She helps to display this theme by giving small examples where she does things out of character from what she originally described herself to be like. This book also showed a lot of determination and power to ones self, which made it very motivating and inspiring. Another thing that our group talked about was how the books ending showed how her life had ended up turning out years later. One specific part where this was shown was when she talked about how she had two children names Carver and Bobbi. This brought a connection to the time she was talking about her mother, Bobbi, and recognized all the things her mother had done wrong when she raised her. She ended up actually naming her daughter after her mother in real life. Cheryl wrote, “When she died. I’d lost that too- the Bobbi she’d been, the woman who was separate from who she was to me.” I think that this shows why she named her child Bobbi, and displays how Cheryl’s mothers name was much more then a name to her, but a feeling.
We also discussed how throughout the book it felt like we were going along on a journey with her, stepping side by side with her and following her steps. The way she was able to write to make it feel like you were actually there made the story even more impactful. It was interesting how a biography was able to tell a story like this, because none of the plots in the book were thought up by an author, they were things that actually happened to her. We also discussed how near the end of the book Cheryl chose to have Doug become very prominent. When Doug appears in the book, he is always talked about in a great and sacred way, and in the end where he makes his final appearance; it is very focused on just him and not the other people that he was traveling with as much. In the end of the book we learn that while Cheryl was researching where her fellow hikers had ended up, she found that Doug had passed away. I think that this shows how this book was trying to memorialize Doug, and how this book was helping to show what an amazing person he was and how much he helped to change Cheryl’s life.
This book really helped me to be able to appreciate myself, and I learned that getting to spend time alone, and getting the opportunity to think outdoors can really open your spirit and change you in a way that nothing else can. It has really inspired me to try and find myself more, and to spend more time out in nature. It has also taught me that no matter what happens, everything turns out better in the end, and to never look down on your life, and to look forward optimistically.
Overall, Wild was an amazing book. It was filled with vivid details and lots of deep messages throughout the story. I would really love to read it again and look closer at the relationships she had with other hikers and try and notice more places where I see change, or connection.
While reading wild my group had a specific way of tracking our thinking through notes. We all decided that keeping continuous written annotations in our books tended to lose our focus and kept us distracted from the actual story. We wanted to find a way where we could keep thoughtful and meaningful annotations that would help us to keep attentive to what we were reading. We decided that we would do a sticky note on the last page of a chapter with three sections. The sections were: themes we noticed, questions we had while reading, and reflections – we defined reflections as comments or notings of big ideas. I think that this was a great way to keep track of my thinking, because it really allowed me to notice change, which was a major theme in this book, through the themes that I noticed throughout characters journey. I also felt like it was a good amount of keeping track of my thinking, because I was not constantly being interrupted by needing to annotate everything, instead I was able to notice bigger things that jumped out at me, and more pressing questions that I wanted to ask. I would also underline specific places or dog ear some that had an excerpt I really liked, or an important idea that I thought would or had already connected to something else from the book.
I think the literary element that was most important to me was themes. Finding themes was not only beneficial to figuring out the plots and big ideas in the story, it was also helpful for me to try and find something in the book. For example, if one theme I noticed was Cheryl’s mother, If i was looking for a place where Chery talked about her mother, it would be easier to find. This made it easier to keep track of my thinking and make connections from other parts of the book. I also think that asking questions was really helpful for me because instead of just finding smaller questions throughout my reading, I was able to think of bigger questions, which engaged my thinking more.
While looking through my notes, a theme I noticed was Cheryls influence of men in her life. A lot of the book talks about Cheryls relationships with men and very quickly in the beginning of the book we learn about Cheryls divorce with Paul. She talks about how even though they had a good relationship, she became detached from him and caused their relationship to fall. On page 36 Cheryl said, “Just behind that longing was the urge to call Paul. He was my ex husband now, but he was still my best friend. As much as I’d pulled away from him in the years after my mother’s death, I’d also leaned hard into him. In the midst of my mostly silent agonizing over our marriage, we’d had good times, been, in oddly real ways, a happy couple.” This shows that although Cheryl and paul had a strong and good relationship (even after they were divorced), Cheryl still couldn’t manage to stay with him and become committed in a time of her life where she was weak. In the book Cheryl ends up cheating on Paul multiple times and becoming a bad partner. Cheryl describes herself as “detached”(p. 78) when it comes to men, and I think that this is a great connection to her and Pauls relationships. After Cheryl’s mother died, she became “detached”(p. 78) from her relationship with men and as she describes it, “like a guy”(p. 78). Later in the book we learn about Cheryl father, she talks about how her father left her mother when she was young, and how he was in a constant struggle of staying at home or leaving them, beating and screaming at them or staying hidden. I think that this shows how from early on in Cheryls life, she was shown a lack of commitment in the two people she looked up to most, her parents. Cheryl describes her father as, “A liar and a charmer, a heartbreak and a brute.”(p.78).I think that this related to Cheryl with her own relationships. She says that she had never been broken up with, meaning that Cheryl was always the one to end relationships, making her a heartbreak. She is also described in a way that makes her a charmer. She lied to Paul initially about her relationship, making her three of the four things that her father had been. The one thing Cheryl never displayed was being a brute. A brute is defined as, “a savagely violent person or animal.”. I think that Cheryls hike could connect to her not wanting to become a “animal” like her father, and her establishment to nature almost signified that in a way. I think this connects to how her relationships ended up becoming when she grew up. I think that from an early age she had a sense of extreme detachment and inconsistency in how her father handled relationships. I think that she was afraid that if she became too committed, her partner would do what her dad did, or she would become like her dad. I believe that this connects to not wanting to become an “animal”, and going on her journey, because it shows how she is trying to become a better person and not be like the man that her father had become. Instead Cheryl wants to be in control of the path she follows in the wild.
This connects to how people in real lifes views of relationships while growing up influence their own relationships when they have grown up. This book shows how powerful an early onset of unright in someones life can influence them to be afraid or become what they are afraid of. This idea also illustrates how people need to take control of their own lives, and try to figure yourself out completely to have a clear mind, and in order to form better partnerships. This is an important message for people to learn through books, because once someone is more aware of how they are being influenced by something in their past in one way, it becomes easier to avoid that obstacle.
I would give this book a 10/10. I think that this book was very powerful, and gave vivid details that intrigued the reader. This book made it seem like you were walking alongside Cheryl as she walked through the Pacific Crest Trail. It also made something that would seem kind of boring to read about (someone hiking) really interesting and captivating. I also feel like I learned a lot in this book, and that I was able to see through the eyes of someone else very clearly. I also enjoyed how everything in it was true, and how the plot was actually her life, not something just made up inside an author’s head. This made the book a lot more powerful and interesting to me.