In Wild by Cheryl Strayed, what are three quotes that illustrate the author's style?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Cheryl Strayed's writing style in Wild is perceptive, descriptive, and, at times, devastatingly honest. On the second page of the Prologue, she writes, "It was a world I've never been to and yet had known was there all along, one I'd staggered to in sorrow and confusion and fear and hope . . . A world that measured two feet wide and 2,663 miles long" (page 4). Strayed's writing in this section is both descriptive, as she defines the precise dimensions of the Pacific Crest Trail, and metaphorical, as she describes her world filled with abstractions such as sorrow and hope. 

Even when describing painful experiences, Strayed has a poetic and descriptive style. She writes of the plastic containers meant to hold chemicals that her mother brought home from work, "We made them into toys—beds for our dolls, ramps for our cars . . . We received government cheese and powdered milk, food stamps and medical assistance cards, and free presents from do-gooders at Christmastime" (page 14). Again, Strayed is beautifully descriptive, and she pays attention to each detail and presents them in a long list. The details stand for something greater and more metaphorical—the poverty in which her family lived, despite their endless efforts to do better.

Similarly, when describing the house that her mother and her stepfather, Eddie, built, Strayed writes, "Each component demanded just slightly less than it gave, needing to be tended and maintained, filled and unfilled, hauled and dumped, pumped and primed and stoked and monitored" (page 16). This selection has poetically descriptive elements and uses rhymes ("pumped" and "dumped") and alliteration (or starting words that are close together with the same consonant sounds, such as "pumped" and "primed"). The descriptive details again add up to something greater and more abstract—in this case, the immense energy it took to live in her house, where there was no electricity or running water.

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