AO2: A Walk in the Woods by Alina Ahmed 10M

  1. How has the writer presented his experiences of camping in the passage? Explain your answer using brief quotations.

Ans. The following extract is from, A Walk in the Woods, written by Bill Bryson. It is a narrative passage in which the writer states his experiences in the woods while camping with his friends and highlighting his emotions as he fears his life may be in danger. The structure of the extract is written with simple vocabulary, making it a smooth read for the reader. With a thrilling tone and changing moods, the passage is quite entertaining. The author uses many techniques to portray plain language with various sentence structures and fruitful figures of speech. This is a conative piece of writing for young adults. The extract is about the writer in a dangerous situation that conveys an adventurous theme.

This extract starts off with a calm mood with explanatory language as the writer begins to describe his surroundings with adjectives such as “tranquil “, “small” and “grassy”. He also goes on to tell how they were “flush for food” as it was their first day back on the trail. This sets an image for the reader as to where the writer was and how hungry he and his friends were while they “gorged” themselves with the food they had before it perished. He uses adjectives like, “midge like”, “numerous”, “persistent”, “noisy” to emphasis and give further insight on his situation as they had to put a stop to their fun and get into their tents. This implies that it was getting late and time to rest.

The writer uses paradox twice in his passage to show contradiction and signify his feelings. For example, “cool enough… but warm enough”. This statement contradicts itself as the writer feels that he weather is just perfect enough to want to cover yourself yet sleep without it. The author says, “Weary but normal voice.” This sentence also illustrates how the writer interprets Stephen’s voice according to how he also suggests that Stephen is not bothered too much about the writers paranoia as such sounds in the woods are mundane behavior.

Similes are also used in the passage to highlight the writer’s point. For example, “like ants when you disturb their nest”. This enhances the idea that the writer has tried to convey by describing his dread. It explains how scared w=he was and how his mind was racing. He also says, “Sounded like a stegosaurus”, to emphasis Stephen’s point of view that the writer agrees with. This example proves that sounds in the woods feel “big” or loud because of paranoia in one’s mind.

There are many onomatopoeia and alliteration to create an emotive image. “Through thunderstorms” and “breaking branches” are some alliteration words that reflect the writer’s thoughts. He explains how he is able to sleep through anything, no matter how loud, but the noise of snapping branches and shuffling woke him up. He tries to explain that meant there must be something life threatening out there. The word, “snooze” signifies the writers need for good sleep. “Click” and “snuffling” are onomatopoeias that enhance the writer’s panic and make the reader feel frightened. This sets a suspenseful mood.

The writer conveys his emotions through dramatic phrases and effects. “Bear!” gives the extract a dramatic effect and the writer infers what may be in trees as is dread grows. “Quite near” further adds suspense and the reader can feel the writer’s emotions of worrisome. The writer says, “Nocturnal defense” which is a label that gives a dramatic effect as he explains that he had become off guard and left his knife outside his tent. “Every neuron” is an exaggerated phrase arouses the reader’s attention and signifies the writer’s point. This shows that he was extremely frightened. “Everything sounds big” also gives an overemphasized and dramatic effect to ease the writer and reader to think logically. Another dramatic phrase in the extract is “This is true.” This is a rhetorical statement to state facts for the reader.

Idioms are used in the passage to appeal to the readers emotions. For example, “eyes fly open”, describe the writer’s actions in a rather dramatic way so as to paint a picture for the writer. “Bolt upright” also gives the reader an insight on the writer’s actions which are affected by his emotions.

The wise use of dialogue is presented in the extract to achieve the reader’s attention and response. For example, “Stephen, you awake?” this gives introduction to a new character and further feeds the reader’s suspense. The passage, now includes Stephen’s thoughts as well. “How the hell should I know” is another example. This reveals that Stephen does not care as the woods is a place where paranoia like this is created.

The writer uses colorful language and words to describe the setting and give the reader an understanding of the writer’s feelings. Examples are, “plodding”, “tranquil”, “drove us”, etcetera to show that the writer is feeling panicked as he hears a creature among the trees and thinks his life is in danger.

In conclusion, the writer uses various techniques and ideas to demonstrate his thoughts and feelings which help the reader to visualize and feel for the writer. The reader is positioned in the writer’s shoes and gains perspective. He writes in an aesthetic manner to entail that sometimes certain things are not as they seem.


BY: Alina Ahmed


About froebelianwriters

I am an English Language teacher teaching O'Levels Edexcel and CIE A Levels at Froebel's International School, Islamabad. I am also working as a Subject Specialist Literacy consultant for the same school. Writing and reading has always been a passion and I try my utmost to instill these habits and hobbies in my students as well. I can be reached/contacted at or 03365287335 Happy reading!

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