Analyzing “Wild” Through a Reader Response Perspective.

As a reader, I discovered that if you are not reflecting on what the novel illustrating, you are not understanding what the author is trying to demonstrate. Without the reader, the author’s text would absolutely be meaningless, without the reader, novels would only be books of writing and no message. Thus emphasizing that the role of the reader is just as major as the role of the author.

Image: Francis Bacon quote; Retrieved from:

After reading the first portion of my book selection, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Trail, by Cheryl Strayed, I was absolutely flustered by how such a tragic event could occur to someone. The story is filled with sorrow as Strayed explains the struggles in her life, that she and her family had to overcome before her mother’s fatal lung cancer. Which eventually caused more grief as it created distance within the family. Aside from the agony Strayed had to face, I also found the story to be quite inspirational. Despite losing almost everything in her life, Strayed has managed to find the motivation to complete a 2 663 mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail. Supposing I was in Strayed’s position: separating myself from my siblings, facing the death of my mother, and going through a divorce. I would most likely not want to do anything, like hiking, and I would presumably despise the thought of hiking alone. To imagine the obstacles that Strayed has faced may be impossible. However, as a reader and as a person, I can sympathize what it’s like to have someone you love in a dangerous condition. Similar to Strayed, I wanted to drop everything and stay by that person until they have fully recovered.

Image: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail; Retrieved from:

In chapter one, Strayed explains to the reader that her mother was involved in an abusive relationship and how her family’s overall life was not an easy one. Luckily, their life seemed to get better, once her mother was involved in a loving relationship with a caring man (Strayed 15). Not only that, Strayed and her mother decided to attain a BA at a college (Strayed 17). Unfortunately, that happiness did not last long due to her mother’s deadly lung cancer (Strayed 19). Due to her health, Strayed’s mother could not finish her senior year of college. I was devastated when I read this; the two women were so close to receive their BA, but time was not in their favor. Not only that, there was one doctor who stated that Strayed’s mother would last a year; in reality, she lasted about a month (Strayed 21). Never in my life had I faced a scenario like Strayed’s, yet from reading this novel, the author vividly illustrates her problem to the point that I thought her obstacle has happened to me.

It is clear as crystal that this book is not among the category of the happiest of novels. Although, similar to many books the audience will develop questions regarding to its context. Throughout the whole first section, I would constantly question how Strayed will handle her difficult situation and how she is feeling about it. In addition to developing questions, an active reader will also start to analyze the story. To be specific, when Strayed mentions her past situation with her family, specifically how her mother was not able to leave her abusive partner for seven years, this will – undoubtedly – trigger the emotions of the reader. Thus emphasizing how much Strayed has lost in her life and all of her misfortunes.  Furthermore, even though the novel is focused on Strayed, she still mentions her siblings’ view on their mother’s situation (Strayed 21-22). Strayed was the only one to was there for her mother’s suffering. She would try to reach out to her siblings, however, it was too much for them to bear (Strayed 21-22). Later resulting the separation of the family. As Strayed tries to act as the glue to hold the family together, she as well gives up and becomes alone. All of this “extra” knowledge ultimately allows the reader to try and connect with the speaker’s mental and emotional state. The author is compatible with the reader, as they both help the text create meaning.

Image: The relationship between the author and the reader; Retrieved from:

Throughout my reading experience, I have never came across a book such as this one. Perhaps there are some similarities to the other books that I have read, but how Wild impacted me, as Strayed’s audience, is unique. How the author portrayed her thoughts onto the pages amazes me, she manages to grasp the readers attention throughout the entire section. Moreover, she narrates her story in a way that takes the reader in her story, in that exact situation.  In some odd way, I do not feel as though I am reading a non-fiction. Usually, when I read non-fictional books I am aware, however, with this book it is purely just a mystery. Due to this mysterious feeling, I think I will enjoy this book in a new, and different way.

With every written media, there will always be a case when the author or speaker will use their words to develop a mental image. To be specific, Strayed illustrates her mother’s grave as she mentions that she sat down on the flowerbed where she and her siblings buried their mother’s ashes, in the woods, on their land (Strayed 28). Having this mental imagery sets the tone and the mood of the story, in that specific situation. As a result, allowing the author to move the reader even more.

From reading the first portion of Wild, I am eager to reader the second share. The first quarter allowed me to grab a glimpse of what the author is like and her overall behavior. I am interested to see how drastically the hike will change her. Furthermore, I am curious to see her adventure from Strayed’s point of view. Perhaps Strayed will change how I feel later on, in her story. The chances are questionable, because the reader is what supply the text with meaning. John Cheever once said, “I can’t write without a reader. It’s precisely like a kiss — you can’t do it alone.”

Works Cited

Andrus, Patrick. “ReadWonder.” Wonder Wednesday #151 (Reader Response #6). N.p., 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 15 Apr. 2017.

Author to Reader. N.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2017.

“Cheryl Strayed.” A&E Networks Television, 06 July 2016. Web. 15 Apr. 2017.

Lundquist, Molly. “Wild (Strayed).” Wild – Cheryl Strayed – Summary – Book Club Discussion Questions. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2017.

“Quotes About Readers And Writers (77 quotes).” (77 quotes). N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2017.

Strayed, Cheryl. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. New York, NY: Vintage , 2013. Print.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. 2013. Web. 15 Apr. 2017



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