The Lens of Style and Personality
About 200 people hike the Appalachian Trail every year; blind men, old men, fat men, young men, American men, foreign men, and women. However, each experience brings a new flavor, not because the hikers had different experiences, but because each tells the experience through a different lens: the lens of style and personality. In his hilarious book, A Walk In the Woods, Bill Bryson narrates his adventures as he challenged himself to hike the Appalachian Trail with his long lost friend a Stephen Katz. The book expresses a very unique and distinct account of what hiking a trail entails. Unlike other travel books, especially nature books, Bryson depicts a rather humorous experience. Through his use of dialogue, lists, defined first person narrative, and sarcasm, Bryson brings to us a completely different idea of what being stranded in nature is truly like. He portrays a feat, which although tedious, rather comical. He depicts a challenge, which is not so much of a challenge; an adventure where facing a bear seems funnier than an episode of the Cosby show. He illustrates a trip to nature where “gas stations, Wal-Marts, Kmarts, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Blockbuster Videos,” unfold as a hideous pageant of commercial business (Bryson 164). In other words, he gives the impression that hiking the Appalachian Trail is a test, which although a wearisome, can be done by any human being who has the physical and mental capacity of Stephen Katz.
All throughout his narrative Bryson makes extensive use of dialogue between his main characters and himself. In several chapters one can find complete pages of exchange of words between Bryson and Katz. This technique, which is so distinct to Bryson’s style, aids him in manipulating the overall impression his audience draws from his experience hiking the Appalachian Trail. Conversations, such as the one found in page 59 and 60 between Katz and Bryson are what truly lead us to grasp this experience as...
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