Cheryl Strayed

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Themes and Colors
Loss and Grief Theme Icon
Healing vs. Redemption Theme Icon
The Kindness of Strangers Theme Icon
Nature and Humanity Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Wild, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Loss and Grief

In the wake of her mother’s untimely death at the age of forty-five, Cheryl Strayed loses more than just a parent and a best friend—slowly, little by little, she begins to lose her family too. As Cheryl’s nuclear family grows more and more distant in the wake of their shared loss, Cheryl begins to believe that that’s simply what loss does: it divides and estranges people at the moment when they should be coming together…

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Healing vs. Redemption

When Cheryl sets out to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, she is at the lowest point of her young life. Ravaged by grief in the wake of losing her mother and ending her marriage, she has succumbed to a barely-manageable heroin addiction, a toxic new relationship, and a cycle of self-destructive behavior that threatens to end her bright future. She embarks on the PCT in an attempt to redeem herself and change her life—but as…

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The Kindness of Strangers

As Cheryl embarks on the Pacific Crest Trail, she believes her journey will be a contemplative one of almost monastic solitude. Instead, what she finds is a thriving, exuberant community of hikers who spur one another on, lift each other up, and offer help, advice, money, and companionship in the toughest moments on the trail. With the exception of a few rare cranks and bad eggs, everyone Cheryl meets along her journey is warm, empathetic…

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Nature and Humanity

When Cheryl sets off on an 1,100-mile hike through the wilderness, she is an amateur camper and an inexperienced hiker. Along the Pacific Crest Trail, she encounters fallen trees, snowfall, bears, deer, foxes, armies of frogs and black ants, and inhospitable weather. Cheryl is full of uncertainty at the beginning of her journey, but by the end, she feels strong and empowered. Wild uses one woman’s journey of taming—or at least existing within—nature and wilderness…

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