A Walk in the Woods Questions and Answers
by Bill Bryson

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In "A Walk in the Woods," what mood is created by Bill Bryson's description of the woods?

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Lorna Stowers eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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This is a rather difficult question to answer given the breadth of the descriptions provided by the author, Bill Bryson. That said, I can give you two very distinct and different images Bryson opens with—which helps define the range of the moods presented throughout the text.

Bryson opens the novel with the following: "The Appalachians are the home of one of the world's great hardwood forests—the expansive relic of the richest, most diversified sweep of woodland ever to grace the temperate world—and that forest is in trouble." Here, he creates a feeling of concern in the reader. The reader, like Bryson, should desire to see the Appalachians before they are gone. A feeling of nostalgia and desire overwhelms Bryson, and these feelings should also overwhelm the reader.

Soon after making the decision to go on this journey, Bryson presents the reader with the following description:

The woods were full of peril—rattlesnakes and water moccasins and nests of copperheads; bobcats, bears,...

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jcamille23 | Student

The mood that Bryson sets for the book "A Walk in the Woods" is a very tasteful blend of hilarity, awe, humility, and exhaustion.

When Bryson and his friend Katz decide that they are going to hike a large portion of the Appalachian Trail, they realize that they have little to no experience in long-term hiking and camping. The humor is overwhelming in many situations as they stumble through the forest, unsure of themselves and the equipment they have bought in earnest. They encounter other hikers and even some animals, as well as passing through cities and communities, all of which come with very entertaining interactions and anecdotes that leave the reader breathless at times from laughter.

He also establishes a very deep appreciation for the beauty and wonder of the American wilderness, which sets the mood for the book as awe-inspired and hopeful for the future of the untamed forests. While he tires of the monotony of the trees, plants, and sounds, he always comes back to the idea and history of preservation and conservation as a pivotal theme in the book.

As he and his hiking partner struggle day by day to complete even mundane tasks, the humility and exhaustion that they are experiencing bleeds through the pages, a very strong mood set in the chapters. They take shortcuts and marvel at their unfit athletic abilities. It makes the tone of the book less of a non-fiction and more of an autobiography at times, all the while emphasizing the sheer amazement they have for other hikers who seem to flow effortlessly along the trails.

Overall, it is a highly entertaining and multi-faceted book, full of a variety of moods that are sure to please the reader.