We are half-way through September. Can you believe it? I hope everyone is enjoying Wild. It’s easily become one of my favorite books/stories. I did cheat, however, and watched the movie before I finished it. Reese Witherspoon is one of my favorite actresses, so I couldn’t resist. The movie was….strange. There’s some nudity and language, so I wouldn’t recommend for small eyes. I haven’t finished the book, so I can’t give an honest opinion on how it relates. Anyways, I can’t decide if I liked it or not. The storyline is just too addicting. I mean this woman packs up everything and leaves to go do something she had no knowledge of. Not to mention she’s a woman on a trail full of men. I was just waiting for her to get captured… or… worse.. Needless to say, she’s more of a woman that I am, that’s for sure.
As I was telling my coworkers about the book/movie, I stumbled across Cheryl Strayed’s website, where she has a video about her story. You definitely should watch it. It gives a better perspective on the movie than I could have imagined. She does This woman truly is… wild.
As we continue reading, I encourage you to work these discussion questions. You don’t have to answer all of them, but pick one or two and leave your answers in the comment section below. Also, there are a lot of elements of the book that aren’t in the movie. These questions are strictly based off the book.
Warning: There are spoiler alerts.
- When Cheryl discovers the guidebook to the Pacific Crest Trail, she says that the trip “was an idea, vague and outlandish, full of promise and mystery.” Later, her soon-to-be ex-husband suggests she wants to do the hike “to be alone.” What do you think her reasons were for committing to this journey?
- In the beginning of the book, Cheryl’s prayers are literally curse words—curses for her mother’s dying, curses against her mother for failing. How does her spiritual life change during the course of the book?
- Cheryl’s pack, also known as Monster, is one of those real-life objects that also makes a perfect literary metaphor: Cheryl has too much carry on her back and in her mind. Are there other objects she takes with her or acquires along the way that take on deeper meanings? How so?
- “The thing about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail…was how few choices I had and how often I had to do the thing I least wanted to do,” writes Cheryl. “How there was no escape or denial.” In what ways have her choices helped and/or hurt her up to this point?
- “Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves,” Cheryl writes her first day on the trail. She is speaking about her fear of rattlesnakes and mountain lions and serial killers. To defeat that fear, she tells herself a new story, the story that she is brave and safe. What do you think about this approach, which she herself calls “mind control”? What are some of her other ways of overcoming fear?
- At one point, Cheryl tells herself, “I was not meant to be this way, to live this way, to fail so darkly.” It’s a moment of self-criticism and despair. And yet, some belief in herself exists in that statement. How do the things Cheryl believes about herself throughout the memoir, even during her lowest moments, help or hurt her on the PCT?