We decided as a group that we were going to annotate by using one stickie per chapter. We made sure that each stickie note had a theme that we noticed, questions that we had, and thoughts/reflections about the chapter. Those three things needed to be on each stickie, but we could always add more if we wanted to. In Wild, there are a lot of themes that are really important and help build the plot and create the tone/mood of the story. The majority of our annotations and thoughts were on our stickie notes, but we also used our RRJ as well. The point of the stickies was to make sure we were doing thorough annotating, but to also help with the time constraint because Wild is a pretty long book. By creating one stickie note per chapter, it made it really easy to share our opinions and thoughts during Lit Circles because the annotations were very accessible and they started very interesting discussions. The most important literary elements to me are noticing the plot, themes, and characters. The characters were especially important on her journey because Cheryl meets many different people who are an important part of the book.
While reading Wild, my theory was that Cheryl’s hike/journey on the Pacific Crest Trail was changing herself and her life for the better. Her life was falling apart before her courageous decision to hike over 1100 miles alone on the PCT. Cheryl was in a very dark place after the death of her mother. After going through an extremely challenging divorce, she was using heroin and getting in relationships with the wrong men. She needed to find a way to turn her life around and to learn to make better decisions when she is faced with options. Here are two examples from the book that display how she has positively changed because of her trip.
“I could’ve glided right past it, but something compelled me to pause instead. I was intrigued. I was unattached. In my youth and sorrow, I was ready to self-destruct. So I didn’t just say yes to heroin. I pulled it in with both hands.” (52)
This excerpt supports my thinking because it shows how Cheryl was in a bad place before her trip. It also conveys the fact that Cheryl did have a choice to say no to heroin, and she knows that. Instead, she was excited and interested in something that would change her life in a negative way. By getting in this unhealthy relationship with a man who exposed her to heroin, Cheryl desperately needed a way out of it, and she found one. This also relates back to my other point, which was Cheryl changed in the way she makes choices. If someone offered her heroin after her journey on the PCT, she would say no.
“For once I didn’t ache for a companion. For once the phrase a woman with a hole in her heart didn’t thunder in my head. That phrase, it didn’t even live for me anymore.” (299)
This quote demonstrates how much Cheryl has changed into a woman who has more self-respect for herself, and doesn’t throw herself on all the guys she can. Her life is so different now because her idea of a companion has changed, and she wants to have an actual strong and happy relationship with someone instead of exposing herself to every guy.
This theory of Cheryl changing into a different/better person connects to human nature in many ways. Sometimes, life is extremely challenging and people need to find something that makes them happy and helps them cope. Cheryl was not in a good place, and many people in their lives go through hardships that leave a negative impact on their life. But to help get through her challenges, Cheryl took a leap and hiked the PCT alone to have time to herself and to reflect. Many people are like Cheryl, but in a different way. Not a lot of people hike over a thousand miles to help find themselves, but people do other things that have just as big as an impact. It is really important in life to find things that make you happy and that help you cope and change. Cheryl found that, which really influences other people and shows them that is is possible to get out of a dark place if they are in one. This also connects to human nature because sometimes people need a break and some time to themselves, especially in the outdoors. Life is busy, and it is often surrounded by many people that really influence your life. People like Cheryl need time to themselves to think, reflect, and to find themselves again.
Overall, I would give this book a 9 out of 10. Before I started reading Wild, I thought it would possibly be boring because it was mainly about a woman hiking the PCT. Right when I started reading it, I didn’t want to put it down because it was so good. Throughout the whole book, I felt like I was right next to her on her journey. Cheryl Strayed did an amazing job at making the book funny, inspirational, and interesting, all at the same time. The fact that it was a true story made it that much more intriguing. Overall, I loved reading Wild and it definitely inspired me to never give up, experience the wilderness more, and to always appreciate who and what you have in your life.