“Wild”: The Unwilling Hiking Hero

When analyzing, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, from an archetypal perspective, this novel follows similar patterns as many other story lines. Among the archetypal genres found in novels, Strayed shows herself as the main character of the story and an archetypal unwilling hero, based mainly on her hesitation and doubt. Furthermore, the protagonist must continue on her journey, however, needs to be motivated by others in order to overcome over her obstacles. Later in the story, the protagonist changes her perspective of the adventure and commits to the challenge.

heroesjourney
Image: Archetypal Hero’s Journey; Retrieved from: https://thefirstgates.com/2013/08/22/two-views-of-the-hero-myth/

Strayed hikes along the Pacific Crest Trail, and illustrates indecisiveness as she screams her doubts about the hiking journey (Strayed 50). The author constantly questions her  own decision to hike such an endless trail, thus leaving her doubtful about the overall odyssey. Her hesitation continues to grow until the feeling becomes regretful (Strayed 71).

Fortunately, during the journey, Strayed met fellow hikers that helped and motivated her throughout the hike, namely Greg, who guided her on the way to Kennedy Meadows (Strayed 89). One of Strayed’s bigger challenges was her hiking bag, and luckily another hiker, named Albert, was kind enough to help lighten Strayed’s load , thus allowing the hike to be more bearable (Strayed 106). Aside from Greg and Albert, there were other characters who assisted Strayed’s hiking adventure, hence allowing the character to feel more confident in her hiking abilities. This support that helped lead to Strayed’s courage allowed her to gradually commit to her journey.

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Image: A female hiker; Retrieved from: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/a0/30/46/a03046a30d118afbef5408e78acc8bfa.jpg

It is the human condition to face challenges, and in turn, these challenges eventually become routine. To be specific, according to the novel, Strayed’s sudden hiking life caused several disruptions within her life, however, as she slowly becomes accustomed to the patterns of hiking, Strayed begins to commit to hiking as a privilege. This commitment to the journey is evident when Strayed is determined to arrive at Kennedy Meadows before the two men (Strayed 95). In spite of her regret of her hiking journey, she decided to persevere in order to reach her goal (Strayed 95). At the beginning of this second section, Strayed has been longing to contact her family, specifically her ex-husband, Paul. Now, as she walks along the trail she states that even though she might be more alone than anyone, “that was okay” (Strayed 189).

Even though many novels tend to follow similar patterns, the unwilling hero in this story is completely different from others I have read in the past. Thus the comparisons and contrasts between other novels and Wild allow me to connect and make references, in regards to archetypal heroes.

In addition, there is extreme symbolism throughout the novel, particularly, the backpack, the Pacific Crest Trail, and the water supply; these symbols represent the obstacles Strayed must face in order to overcome her objective. The common patterns that are found in many novels are the ideas to overcome hardships that are given to the protagonist. Another familiar pattern found in novels, as well as this one, is that the protagonist grows from their innocence to gain experience. At first Strayed felt incompetent compared to the other hikers, however, as time passes and as she gains experience, she later states she is equal to them; she considered herself an “Amazonian queen” (Strayed 202). Moreover, the protagonist would never have gained the experience needed, without her fellow hikers to assist her. That is to say, the people who helped Strayed, served as archetypal guides. To be specific, Greg and Albert were Strayed’s mentors as they motivated her to continue and lightened her load (Strayed 106). One pattern that is almost always shown in media is the descent into danger. For instance, in the novel, Strayed’s life was in jeopardy when she was dangerously dehydrated and the next water tank was miles away (Strayed 193 -194). In order to stay hydrated, Strayed went to the nearest reservoir and drank the “questionable liquid” (Strayed 195). Hence Strayed learned to avoid carelessness, which was the case of drinking all of her water and not measuring future consequences. These patterns of symbolism are only a few of the many that are found in Wild and in many other novels.

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Image: An image of a backpack and boots, two significant items in Wild. ; Retrieved from: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/3f/0f/70/3f0f705bd55023351f58ed8a85b32d30.jpg

Due to the archetypal patterns, the reader will be able to predict what will happen in what remains in the book. I believe that I will expect to see Strayed adapting herself to hiking even more, as a result allowing herself to enjoy the Pacific Crest Trail journey to a greater extent.

After reading the first two-thirds of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, I am anxious to read about how Strayed’s journey ends and what obstacles are before her. The patterns found in an archetypal response can always be altered to the author’s favor.

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Image: The cover of Strayed’s novel; Retrieved from: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/8c/95/eb/8c95eb8c4a778b0b15ff6d94ee4dc47c.jpg

Works Cited

Lundquist, Molly. “Wild (Strayed).” Wild – Cheryl Strayed – Summary – Book Club Discussion Questions. N.p., N.d. Web. 01 May 2017.
http://www.litlovers.com/reading-guides/14-non-fiction/8839-wild-strayed >.

“Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail.” U.S DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. N.p., N.d. Web. 1 May 2017.
< https://www.fs.usda.gov/pct/ >.

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

 

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