A Walk Across America
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"A Walk Across America" Characters Analysis

By Peter Jenkins

travel | 320 pages | Published in NaN

Twenty-five years ago, a disillusioned young man set out on a walk across America. This is the book he wrote about that journey -- a classic account of the reawakening of his faith in himself and his country."I started out searching for myself and my country," Peter Jenkins writes, "and found both." In this timeless classic, Jenkins describes how disillusionment with society in the 1970s drove him out onto the road on a walk across America. His experiences remain as sharp and telling today as they were twenty-five years ago -- from the timeless secrets of life, learned from a mountain-dwelling hermit, to the stir he caused by staying with a black family in North Carolina, to his hours of intense labor in Southern mills. Many, many miles later, he learned lessons about his country and himself that resonate to this day -- and will inspire a new generation to get out, hit the road and explore.


Estimated read time: 5 min read

Table of Contents

  1. List of Characters

List of Characters

Character NameRole
Peter JenkinsProtagonist
CooperFurry companion
Various EncountersSupporting characters

Role Identification

In the book "A Walk Across America" by Peter Jenkins, the protagonist, Peter Jenkins himself, takes on the central role. Throughout his journey, he encounters various supporting characters who play significant roles in shaping his experiences and perspectives.

Character Descriptions

  1. Peter Jenkins: Peter is a young man in his early twenties, who embarks on a life-changing journey across America. He is described as curious, adventurous, and eager to explore the unknown. Peter is determined to discover the true essence of America through his walk, pushing himself physically and mentally.
  2. Cooper: Cooper is Peter's loyal furry companion, a mixed-breed dog. He provides companionship and emotional support to Peter during his journey. Cooper's presence adds an element of warmth and connection to the story.
  3. Various Encounters: Throughout his walk, Peter encounters a diverse range of individuals from different backgrounds and walks of life. These encounters contribute to the richness of the narrative, providing insights into the diverse cultures and perspectives found in America.

Character Traits

  1. Peter Jenkins: Peter is characterized by his curiosity and open-mindedness. He is eager to learn and understand the people and places he encounters on his journey. Additionally, Peter demonstrates resilience and determination as he faces various challenges along the way.
  2. Cooper: Cooper is portrayed as loyal, friendly, and adaptable. He forms an unbreakable bond with Peter, providing emotional support during their long and arduous journey.
  3. Various Encounters: The supporting characters that Peter meets throughout the book possess a wide range of traits and characteristics. Some individuals may be friendly, generous, and helpful, while others may be cautious, skeptical, or even hostile. These traits highlight the diversity of the American population and their attitudes towards a traveler on foot.

Character Background

  1. Peter Jenkins: Before embarking on his walk, Peter had a relatively ordinary life. He grew up in a small town and attended college. However, he felt a sense of disillusionment and yearned for something more meaningful. This dissatisfaction led him to make the decision to walk across America, leaving behind the comforts of his previous life.
  2. Cooper: Cooper's background is not explicitly discussed in the book. However, he is portrayed as a stray dog who becomes Peter's faithful companion during the journey. Cooper's background adds an element of mystery and spontaneity to the narrative.
  3. Various Encounters: The book provides glimpses into the backgrounds of the people Peter meets along his journey. These individuals come from diverse backgrounds, including farmers, Native Americans, and people from different socio-economic backgrounds. Their varied experiences and perspectives contribute to the overall understanding of the American landscape.

Character Arcs

  1. Peter Jenkins: Throughout the book, Peter undergoes significant personal growth and transformation. Initially, he sets out on his journey with a somewhat romanticized view of America. However, as he encounters various challenges, his perspective evolves, and he becomes more grounded and realistic. Peter's character arc reflects his growing understanding of the complexities and contradictions of American society.
  2. Cooper: While Cooper does not undergo a major character arc, his presence serves as a constant source of comfort and companionship for Peter. Cooper's unwavering loyalty and resilience reinforce the bond between human and animal, highlighting the power of connection in challenging situations.


  1. Peter and Cooper: The relationship between Peter and Cooper is one of companionship and loyalty. Cooper becomes Peter's confidant and emotional support throughout the journey. Their bond strengthens as they face various obstacles together, creating a deep and lasting connection.
  2. Peter and Various Encounters: Peter's interactions with the people he meets along his journey are characterized by curiosity and mutual learning. These relationships range from brief encounters to more profound connections. Through these relationships, Peter gains insights into different perspectives and experiences, broadening his understanding of America.

In conclusion, "A Walk Across America" by Peter Jenkins presents a character-driven narrative that explores the personal growth and transformation of the protagonist, Peter Jenkins. Through his journey and encounters with various supporting characters, Peter learns about the diversity and complexity of America, ultimately leading to a deeper understanding of himself and the world around him. The bond between Peter and his loyal companion, Cooper, adds an emotional layer to the story, emphasizing the power of connection in the face of adversity.