Reaction Paper: Stickeen by John Muir

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"Stickeen", by John Muir, The Best American Essays of the Century.

"Stickeen", by John Muir is an essay recounting the author's experience exploring the Alaskan terrain in 1880. It also recounts his fascination with his four-legged companion, Stickeen – who serves as somewhat of a guide. In the essay, the author tells the reader about his experience and hardship while trekking the Alaskan terrain. I found this essay rather poignant and sentimental in value. The author describes in detail of how he first met Stickeen and gives a brief autobiographical account of the dog's history. He goes on to describe an expedition he and Stickeen had gone on and how they endured being lost, harsh weather and at times even hunger. The essay was so descriptive, it seem as though one can picture the author climbing the glacier. At certain times throughout the essay, the author described how despite all the obstacles, this dog just kept on going. It seems as though the author derived inspiration from the dog. These two beings formed a bond because of this experience. At one point, the author and Stickeen are forced to cross an inevitable glacial pass in order to get safely back home. Stickeen loses his courage and surprisingly enough it is the author with enough encouragement for both, wills the dog to cross the path. In the end, the author and Stickeen arrive safely back to camp, both a changed man and dog. During the rest of their expedition, the author and Stickeen are inseparable. Forever, bonded in trust from their adverse experience.

The essay is not too uncommon. It touches upon the bond formed between man and animal under the harshest of conditions. It teaches me that not only can one form a deep and trusting relationship with one's fellow man but also with an animal as well.
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