A Walk In The Woods Analysis

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The travelogue, “A Walk in the Woods,” depicts a laborious, seemingly never-ending hike through the Appalachian Trail in the voice of the author’s, Bill Bryson’s, alter-ego. By following the unfit pair of Bill Bryson and Stephen Katz, I learn of their perseverance despite the graveness of their journey and their shortcomings. Through the progression of the Appalachian Trail, the pair encounter problems that encourage them to unknowingly stray from the trail, trying to deter them from reaching their end goal. Bryson tolerates Stephen Katz’s unmotivated attitude, the drastic changes in weather, and the temptations of comfort, as he wants to challenge his ability to persevere through what he believes to be impossible for himself, and
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The simple knowledge that they can quit whenever they see fit tries to constantly deter them from the trail, but it is their ability to dismiss them that I find astonishing. When they first encounter a terrible snowfall that keeps them off of the trail, “Katz [is] verily in heaven at the prospect of several days idling in town” (88), but it is Bryson who wants “to get back on the trail, to knock off [his] miles” (88) because “it was what they did” (88). His ability to look past the challenge with a mindset to accomplish what he first sets out to do is in fact the best attitude to go about the Appalachian Trail, and by starting off strong, he can continue doing so for the duration he plans to travel. When Katz comes back to the trail after a few months of rest, it feels as if he is starting over again, both with his ability to hike and his change in heart. After his co-workers “invited [him] for about the hundredth time” (272), he finally gives in to them, allowing himself the comfort that alcohol provides him with, but he plans to swear to live a life of “devoted sobriety” (287). Seeing that Katz even takes to the trail is a good enough indication that he is willing to change, he is surely met with failure, but as long as he wants to start again, he can achieve what he truly desires. Since Katz succumbs to comfort easily, he is eager to search for it when he is met with challenges. He goes against Bryson’s wishes for him to stay put while he goes to fetch them water, only because he “was real thirsty … and [the lake] didn’t look too far” (280). By neglecting the consequences, he gets lost, but the thought that he can push himself to his limits to obtain what he wants, is what makes his actions outstanding. This time, he lets himself be pushed without Bryson

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