Stylistic Analysis Of The Novel "A Walk In The Woods" By Bill Bryson

1314 words - 5 pages

A Walk in the Woods essayIn the novel A Walk in the Woods, the author Bill Bryson entertains the reader with a humorous, yet authentically personal account of his expedition along the Appalachian Trail. He carries you along through the beautiful sceneries, endless discomforts, overwhelming joys, and infinite frustrations with an honest commentary, complete only with his colorful splash of impeccable irony. The book, as well as chronicling his individual journey, also educates the reader on various topics ranging from the National Parks Service, to tales of various AT celebrities and obscurities, to the varying aggressiveness of bears according to the particular species. However, out of the many subjects that Bryson discusses, I would mainly like to focus on two: His own experience with hiking the trail and America's increasing de-appreciation for the wonders of nature. I will be looking at how the styles in which he presents these issues change or do not change throughout the book.When the book begins, Bryson is nothing more than a naïve and inexperienced hiker with a dream to traverse the 2,600-mile AT. As the trip unfolds, his feelings towards the physical challenge of actually lugging himself across the vertical axis of the U.S. fluctuate. He experiences hiking from many legitimate perspectives: as purely a workout, as an accomplishment, and as a lovable yet loathable spouse. At first it seems like labor, "The hardest part was coming to terms with the constant dispiriting discovery that there is always more hill… Each time you haul yourself up to what you think must surely be the crest, you find that there is in fact more hill beyond, sloped at an angle that kept it from view before, and that beyond that there is another, and beyond that another and another, and beyond each of those more still, until it seems impossible that any hill could run on this long" (Bryson, 50). In this passage he clearly illustrates the despair of the seemingly eternal path with the clever use of repetition and exaggeration. The repetition drives his point home by hammering the concept into your head and combined with the overemphasis, he makes sure that you feel what he felt.As he gets into the rhythm of walking, he starts to feel refreshed and more competent. "So I was happy. We were doing fifteen or sixteen miles a day, nothing like the twenty-five miles we had been promised we would do, but still a perfectly respectable distance by our lights. I felt springy and fit and for the first time in years had a stomach that didn't look like a ball bag. I was still weary and stiff at the end of the day -that never stopped- but I had reached the point where aches and blisters were so central a feature of my existence that I ceased to notice them" (Bryson, 178). His narration almost seems to pick up speed as if it suddenly became much lighter. The introduction sentence, "So I was happy" sets the tone of the passage, and phrases such as, "respectable distance,"...

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