The larger occasion Strayed had for writing her novel was the huge emotional impact that the trip had on her existence. Those three months she spent out in the wilderness taught her how to deal with damaged things in her life, whether they be physical objects or more abstract concepts. The event that started Strayed’s downward spiral was her mother’s diagnosis of late-stage lung cancer. This caused the author to spend her time with her dying mother instead of her husband, so some separation was seeded in their relationship. Her mother died when Strayed was 22, as she puts it “the same age she was when she’d been pregnant with me. She was going to leave my life at the same moment that I came into hers…” (11) Due to her mother’s death, Strayed was not motivated to finish college and didn’t get her degree. She became very distant from her family since her mother was like glue that held them together. Then she began have affairs. “My mom had been dead a week when I kissed another man.” (34) She didn’t do anything more than kiss other men, until it turned into more than that. This eventually led to her divorce, even though she still loved her husband. One of the men she was with got her involved with heroin, and ...
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...e the events in the novel happened about 20 years ago, a more immediate occasion for writing the novel would have been her revisiting the ending spot of her trip with her family years later. The husband and children she had when she returned to the old ice cream parlor starkly contrast her family when she completed her hike. She was recovering from a divorce, and her other family was not close, for she had lost contact with her siblings and stepfather after her mother passed. When she was inspired to write the book, she was sitting with her second husband and children. Only by telling them the story of her hike she realized the importance of it. The purpose of her hike was to return to the person she was before her mother’s death, and instead she was better off. The Pacific Crest Trail was an essential journey she had to take to become the person she was meant to be.
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