Study Guide

A Walk in the Woods Perseverance

By Bill Bryson

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Whoever thought up the phrase "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again" definitely never stepped foot on the Appalachian Trail. Out here, perseverance can hurt you just as much as it helps you. The Appalachian Trail sits at over 2,100 miles, after all, which means that it'll take more than a little elbow grease to see this mission through to the end.

Bill Bryson and Stephen Katz learn this lesson well over the course of A Walk in the Woods because (spoiler alert) they're unable finish what they've started. Knowing that, however, the fun part becomes watching them fight against insurmountable odds with their trademark charm.

Questions About Perseverance

  1. Why are Bryson and Katz relieved when they realize that they can't hike the entire AT?
  2. What separates those who complete the trail from those who don't?
  3. Why does Katz continue traveling with Bryson even when he'd rather chill out?
  4. Would Bryson and Katz feel more satisfied if they had walked the entire AT? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Katz and Bryson are relieved when they realize that they can't hike the entire AT because it takes the pressure off and allows them to enjoy the experience.

Although Katz and Bryson might have been able to complete the entire AT if they tried as hard as they could, this wouldn't have made them any happier.

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