If a person has everything they could ever want: a loving significant other, loving siblings, loving mother and in the matter of a couple of years everything you had was stripped away from you. Your entire life was gone. Your mother dies, you fall into a cycle of drug abuse, infidelities, abandonment issues from your sibling, your father and your stepfather. You would feel angry with the world and you would put the entire world of that pain on your back. Would you not want to regain the reigns of your life?
Cheryl Strayed shows us that one can learn from their mistakes to become a better person so they don’t repeat the same mistakes. Author of the bestselling essay book, Tiny Beautiful things, her book Wild translated into 40 different languages, MFA in fiction, and co-host of the popular advice column, the “Rumpus”. Cheryl Strayed, was writing for a specific audience; Adults who have gone through tragedy in their life, though it may be a family members death, drug abuse, abortion, families splitting up, divorce and promiscuity, Strayed proves to them that they will be okay in the end.
Strayed shows us the tragedies she has gone through, she takes us on her journey and shows the reader her growth as she hikes 1100 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail that is 2660 miles long. A trail that connects from the border of Mexico, runs through California, Oregon, Washington and ending on the Canadian border. Strayed wonders how could her family who once was so solid and close could just so quickly drift apart once her mother died (84). Strayed confesses, “I squandered my marriage with Paul…got myself into a sad tangle with heroin and Joe and sex Ramirez 2 ith men I hardly knew” (84) Remorseful, Strayed is sad in the way events played out but she ultimately is thankful for them because in the end she was saved.
Strayed never apologized for what she did, and believed she would have not been saved if it weren’t for the things she did in her past which ultimately put her on the hike to the Pacific Crest Trail (258). “For once I didn’t ache for a companion. For once the phrase a woman with a hole in her heart didn’t even live anymore” (299). Cheryl grew out of the fact she needed to fill that void in herself.
The closer she got to the finish life, the more she grew and eventually Strayed let herself be free. Cheryl Strayed’s motivation to write the book Wild because she majored in English with a MFA in fiction and her life was so spectacular how can she not write a book about her journey? Strayed admits she always knew she was going to write a story, but never knew about what until her hike. Strayed has first-hand experience in tragedy because she lost her mother, got divorced, started using heroin, slept around with men and her family drifted apart when she needed them the most.
That was her motivation to write, her tragedies are what makes Strayed an expert in being at the rock bottom. All of those things are what made her a professional at loss an suffering. Strayed felt compelled to help people, she in various times loved to help people. She helped a Doug, a fellow Pacific Crest Trail hiker, with his blisters that he got on his feet without hesitation. (109). Strayed was Sugar, an anonymous writer on “The Rumpus”, which sole purpose was to help people. People would write to Sugar with problems that were happening in their lives, seeking her advice and she would just respond with support and answers.
It was out of the kindness of Strayed’s heart that made her want to help people (Also By Cheryl Strayed) Strayed was able to connect emotionally to her readers because of the language she used; the way she explains the darkness of her past “I was unattached… and my sorrow, I was ready to self-destruct” (52). Strayed knew she was at her lowest point and still continued to be lost, Ramirez 3 another person, “a stranger” she described herself (53). “I get to do this. I get to waste my life. I get to be junk” (53).
A lot of people who turned to drugs can relate in wanting to be better, but unable to escape the cold grasp of drugs. I was a big fat idiot and I didn’t know what the hell I was doing” (58). Strayed was relatable because everyone can relate to a time in which they felt completely lost and felt stupid. Strayed didn’t put herself on a pedestal she used real language real people use such as: “idiocy” (66), “Fucking boots off my feet” (109), giggling when she hears the words shaft, head, spike (113). “The thought of my youthful lack of humility made me nauseous” (151). Another example of herself showing to be human, showing a natural human emotion, humility.
Strayed used specific language in how she described hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, Strayed described the places she was in to help the reader to get a better understanding of what the Pacific Crest Trail was like. The elevation at Mojave was at 2800 feet (29). “The air came alive with sound of the wind” (142). Strayed uses specific language to paint a picture in the reader’s mind using descriptive language that the reader with little or no knowledge of nature can understand. Strayed claims the Pacific Crest Trail both shattered her and sheltered her (207).
Strayed points this out because on the road to recovery the journey is not going to be easy, but in the end it will be worth it. Strayed ethics were that of a questionable one. Although tragedy strikes her I cannot blame her for being angry towards god. “God was a ruthless bitch” (23) projecting out after losing her mother. Strayed watching her mother suffer and wither away from a strong, independent woman down to a weak shriveled little woman, I get the pain she is going through and that pain, a lot of readers are going to be able to relate.
After all the love and admiration Strayed showed towards her mother Strayed expresses her hate by saying “fuck her” (267) to her Ramirez 4 mother. That phrase got me ticked off. Give the dead some rest and don’t curse at them she is gone and strayed needs to forgive her mother for the bad things she has done to her daughter. “I can’t believe a girl like you would be hiking alone up here. You’re way too pretty to be out here alone” (285). Strayed showed us time and time again in the novel that everyone thought being a solo woman hiker was taboo, that being an alone woman made you a weaker person but she disproved all those non-believers.
Strayed proved that anyone, especially a woman can hike the Pacific Crest Trail. She alone hike a whopping 1100 miles all by herself. Another social issue that was present was that of abortion. Strayed mentions, “I got an abortion” (57). It was evident that Strayed was pro-choice being that she had and abortion herself and she didn’t even question herself about the trivial topic, it was just another item on her to do list. She knew she wasn’t ready for a child so she made the choice to terminate the fetus.
To her stepfather, whom she loved left her life too after her mother had died. Along with her real father leaving when she was six one can’t blame her for breaking down and wanting to find herself. Strayed was driven into Pacific Crest Trail through the tragedy of her own life, she had no support, she was alone. The author’s purpose was to show that people can come back from a tragedy and those actions from your past do not define you, but what you will do in the future is what matters.
After reading the book the author expects the reader to feel inspired by showing them that you can hit rock bottom from tragedy you can let go of your past, let go of the guilt, the struggles of family and let go of your failed relationships. Once Strayed finished hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, she runs into a man who was inspired by Strayed and says he would love to “do something like that” (310). Cheryl preached to the man to do the hike and proclaims that if she can hike the Pacific Crest Trail then anyone can (310).
Days before she finished her hike, Strayed gets to a river and washes her face and she thought about her mother. She admits she was carrying her Ramirez 5 mother on her back the entirety the hike and wondered where she was at that moment. She then realized her mother was standing on the other side of the river and at that moment Strayed finally let her mother rest in peace (306). Cheryl realized she went on this hike not to tell herself she wasn’t scared, but to face her demons (122). Strayed wanted to show that you can’t run away from your past, but you need to face them head on and confront the fear that is in your own mind.
Strayed wants us to realize that through the darkest times you can and will find yourself. In conclusion, if you have the weight of your past on your shoulders, if you lost something or someone if your life and you felt lost I challenge you to let go of those who hurt you or maybe you hurt. You should and need to go on your own personal journey and find the roots of your issues and get the weight off of your back. No matter what happens in your life, in the end you can come out and live a life you can be truly happy as long as you put your monsters to rest