Tag: Archetypal Literary Theory

Archetypal Patterns in A Walk In The Woods

A Walk In The Woods is a non-fiction novel written by Bill Bryson. In the novel Bryson tells his story of walking the Appalachian Trail. This trail is one of the longest hiking trails in the world and one of the most scenic. You can read more bout the trail on the following sites: http://www.appalachiantrail.org and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appalachian_Trail.

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Map of the Appalachian Trail (appalachian-trail-map.jpg)

In this book, the main character is the author, Bill Bryson. I think that Bryson has the archetype of the leader. Bryson fulfills this archetype in many ways. Bryson decides he wants to hike this trail when he is married and has a son who is old enough for a part-time job. He decides that even if he has to do it alone he will. Bryson is a man with strong perseverance. I think that this was the time of Bryson’s midlife crisis and his way of coping with it. “What is certain is that it is a long way, and from either end it is not easy.”(Bryson, 7.) he was clearly looking for a challenge as he knew approximations of how long and physically demanding the trail was. Bryson prepares all of his gear and tries to recruit his friends and family to come with him. His only response is Katz, his friend from college who he also travelled across Europe with.

Bryson and Katz had not seen each other for years.

Katz has an archetype of a sidekick. Bryson becomes his leader throughout this part of the book. When Katz gets to Bryson’s town before the trip he is completely unprepared, “It took him whole minutes to get up the stairs.” (Bryson, 23.) Katz is a man in his mid-fouries who is out of shape and lazy. Bryson helps him shop for his gear and they both shop for their food. When they begin the hike Bryson walks side by side with Katz but soon learns he cannot handle Katz. Katz does nothing but complain and walks at too slow of a pace for Bryson to walk with him. So, Bryson walks ahead and then sits and waits for Katz. This keeps Katz pushing because he is afraid to be in the woods with out Bryson. Katz is not on the trail for very long before he realizes how badly he needs Bryson.

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Bill Bryson (https://www.thecultureconcept.com/a-walk-in-the-woods-bill-bryson-taking-a-hilarious-hike)

I relate Bryson and Katz to Katniss and Peeta from The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. Bryson and Katniss are both leaders who are brave and outgoing. Katniss demonstrates this through her offer to volunteer for her sister which ends up putting her in several life-or-death situations. She had the knowledge that the games could possibly mean her death. Bryson began his hike knowing how many species of animals within the trail could kill him, that certain parts of the trail were very dangerous, and that severe weather conditions could possibly wipe them out for days or weeks with no contact to other people. Peeta, was chosen for the games out of the draw and no one volunteered for him. He was scared and did not know any survival skills. While in training Peeta stuck to what he knew, decorating; this would not help him defend himself for long. Katz was very similar to Peeta in this way. Although Katz volunteered himself, he did not know what he was getting into. Katz, like Peeta, did little to no preparation and stuck to what he knew. Eating.

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Katniss and Peeta (latest)

Katniss had to keep Peeta alive throughout the novel trilogy and so far, Bryson has had to keep Katz alive. Bryson has kept track of Katz and made sure he got to camp each night. He also made sure he ate dinner and got some rest. I relate this to how Katniss got Peeta to a safe spot while he was injured in the first novel and then got him help and food.


Bryson’s journey so far differs from the typical leaders journey so far because they are only hiking. There was no information given in the beginning of the book as to why. No inspiration for the hike. Bryson just decided to do this. There is no quest and he will not be rewarded anything significant at the end. Bryson did not need to take Katz along with him, he just did for company. I think that Katz will come out of the trail as a different person, but he will not change his life because of it. Bryson is simply leading Katz through the trail and making sure he does not die along the way in my opinion. My opinion might change as I get farther into he book, but right now Katz is just extra weight.

Based on the typical leader archetype, I think that the pair will get hit with an extreme weather storm or any situation which will make their survival much harder. I think that Bryson will end up saving Katz’s life before the end of the book, but they will make it out of the trail safely.

I like the writing style of my book because Bryson writes each chapter over the course of a few days. He sums up those days very well and only highlights the important parts. He did not choose to include every strange or miraculous things he saw as not to take away the beauty for any future hikers but wrote more about his experience.

Works Cited

Bryson, Bill. A Walk In The Woods. N.p.: Anchor Canada, 2002. Print.

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic Inc., 2014. Print.