Into the Wild
The Concept of Transcendentalism and Seclusion in Into the Wild
Marcus Aurelius Flores Period-5 AP English Summer Reading 2019 Into the Wild (Page 3) ‘In April 1992, a young man from a well-to-do East Coast family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. Four months later his decomposed body was found by a party of moose hunters. Shortly after the discovery of the corpse, I was asked by the editor of Outside magazine to report on the puzzling circumstances of the boy’s death. His name turned out to be Christopher Johnson McCandless. He’d grown up, I learned, in an affluent suburb of Washington, D.C., where he’d excelled academically and had been an elite athlete.’ ‘Immediately after graduating, with honors, from Emory University in the summer of 1990, McCandless dropped out of sight. He changed his name, gave the entire balance of a twenty-four-thousand-dollar savings account to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet. And then he invented a new life for himself, taking up residence at the ragged margin of our society, wandering across North America in search of raw, transcendent experience. His family had no idea where he was or what had become of him until his remains turned up in Alaska.’ ‘I was haunted by the particulars of the boy’s starvation and by vague, unsettling parallels between events in his life and those in my own. In trying to understand McCandless, I inevitably came to reflect on other, larger subjects as well: the grip wilderness has on the American imagination, the allure high-risk activities hold for young men of a certain mind, the complicated, highly charged bond that exists between fathers and sons. The result of this meandering inquiry is the book now before you.’ This passage stuck out to me because it’s supposed to be the hook, and it presents the possibility of reading an interesting story. Off the bat, I could tell that this was going to be a mystery kind of book, and im looking forward to it. This passage impressed me by how much it makes me want to figure out why a very successful teenager would just throw away his life and disappear.
But this passage was meant to explain what the plot is and what the author has in store for the readers. I also really enjoyed the language the author used in the passage, he got straight into it, no fancy words, just directly into the plot. ‘Then he left the highway and started walking south through the desert, following the river-bank. Twelve miles on foot brought him to Topock, Arizona, a dusty way station along Interstate 40 where the freeway intersects the California border. While he was in town, he noticed a secondhand aluminum canoe for sale and on an impulse decided to buy it and paddle it down the Colorado River to the Gulf of California, nearly four hundred miles to the south, across the border with Mexico.’ ‘This lower stretch of the river, from Hoover Dam to the gulf, has little in common with the unbridled torrent that explodes through the Grand Canyon, some 250 miles upstream from Topock. Emasculated by dams and diversion canals, the lower Colorado burbles indolently from reservoir to reservoir through some of the hottest, starkest country on the continent. McCandless was stirred by the austerity of this landscape, by its saline beauty. The desert sharpened the sweet ache of his longing, amplified it, gave shape to it in sere geology and clean slant of light.’ In this section, Jon is telling the reader the travels of McCandless. What Jon describes in these pages shocked me. I couldn’t believe that McCandless was so determined that he bought a canoe and tried paddling 400 miles. But this is important because now it’s starting to show the irrationality of McCandless’s actions. Later on in the chapter, Jon suggests that McCandless may have lost touch with reality, which would explain the strange decisions that Christopher McCandless is doing. Into the Wild(Page 48) ‘By mid-April, Westerberg was both shorthanded and very busy, so he asked McCandless to postpone his departure and work a week or two longer. McCandless wouldn’t even consider it. “Once Alex made up his mind about something, there was no changing it,” Westerberg laments. “I even offered to buy him a plane ticket to Fairbanks, which would have let him work an extra ten days and still get to Alaska by the end of April, but he said, ‘No, I want to hitch north. Flying would be cheating. It would wreck the whole trip.’”
McCandless is futher revealed to be determined at his journey. This excerpt “I even offered to buy him a plane ticket to Fairbanks, which would have let him work an extra ten days and still get to Alaska by the end of April, but he said, ‘No, I want to hitch north. Flying would be cheating. It would wreck the whole trip,’” tells me that McCandless is looking for something more than just the destination. This part of the story helps me to understand Christopher McCandless more, so me and Jon can solve this mystery. I would highlight this portion of the book as a character building moment so that the reader is more familiar with the kind of person McCandless is. Into the Wild(Page 53) ‘At the age of forty-nine, he cheerfully announced that he had “recast” his goals and next intended to “walk around the world, living out of my backpack. I want to cover 18 to 27 miles a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.” The trip never got off the ground. In November 1991, Rosellini was discovered lying facedown on the floor of his shack with a knife through his heart. The coroner determined that the fatal wound was self-inflicted. There was no suicide note. Rosellini left no hint as to why he had decided to end his life then and in that manner. In all likelihood nobody will ever know.’ Jon describes other people who have the same mystery as Christopher McCandless.
At this point confirmed my suspicions that Into the Wild was dealing with psychological ascpects. This part ‘There was no suicidenote. Rosellini left no hint as to why he had decided to end his life then and in that manner. In all likelihood nobody will ever know,’ is the same idea for the plot of the story. I assume because this idea is being repeated in the book, that this could tie into the theme. Into the Wild(Page 74) ‘Chris was placed in an accelerated program for gifted students. “He wasn’t happy about it,” Billie remembers, “because it meant he had to do extra schoolwork. So he spent a week trying to get himself out of the program. This little boy attempted to convince the teacher, the principal—anybody who would listen—that the test results were in error, that he really didn’t belong there. We learned about it at the first PTA meeting. His teacher pulled us aside and told us that ‘Chris marches to a different drummer.’ She just shook her head.” “Even when we were little,” says Carine, who was born three years after Chris, “he was very to himself. He wasn’t antisocial— he always had friends, and everybody liked him—but he could go off and entertain himself for hours. He didn’t seem to need toys or friends. He could be alone without being lonely.” When Chris was six, Walt was offered a position at NASA, prompting a move to the nation’s capital.
They bought a split-level house on Willet Drive in suburban Annandale. It had green shutters, a bay window, a nice yard. Four years after arriving in Virginia, Walt quit working for NASA to start a consulting firm— User Systems, Incorporated—which he and Billie ran out of their home.’ Chapter 11 is more to understand where McCandless is coming from. This chapter futher confirms that McCandless was a very successful person, futher pushing me and Jon’s question as to why Chris McCandless apperantly committed suicide. In this area of the text, Carine tells me that McCandless wasn’t going through any depression ‘ He was very to himself. He wasn’t antisocial— he always had friends, and everybody liked him—but he could go off and entertain himself for hours. He didn’t seem to need toys or friends. He could be alone without being lonely.” At this point I felt like I was reading a biography, but the author does a good job at making the book push forward. I feel like me and Jon are one step closer to solving the mystery. Into the Wild(Page 84) ‘Many aspects of Chris’s personality baffled his parents. He could be generous and caring to a fault, but he had a darker side as well, characterized by monomania, impatience, and unwavering self-absorption, qualities that seemed to intensify through his college years.
“I saw Chris at a party after his sophomore year at Emory,” remembers Eric Hathaway, “and it was obvious he had changed. He seemed very introverted, almost cold. When I said ‘Hey, good to see you, Chris,’ his reply was cynical: ‘Yeah, sure, that’s what everybody says/ It was hard to get him to open up. His studies were the only thing he was interested in talking about. Social life at Emory revolved around fraternities and sororities, something Chris wanted no part of. I think when everybody started going Greek, he kind of pulled back from his old friends and got more heavily into himself.”
At this point I felt the climax hit me like a truck. This is where we see the turning point of McCandless. Now he is being described in a more negative way, like ‘-but he had a darker side as well, characterized by monomania, impatience, and unwavering self-absorption, qualities that seemed to intensify through his college years,’ and ‘it was obvious he had changed. He seemed very introverted, almost cold. When I said ‘Hey, good to see you, Chris,’ his reply was cynical: ‘Yeah, sure, that’s what everybody says/ It was hard to get him to open up. His studies were the only thing he was interested in talking about. Social life at Emory revolved around fraternities and sororities, something Chris wanted no part of.’ People are starting to notice that McCandless is acting differently, expanding my futher thought’s on why McCandless behaves strangely in other chapters.
‘The repugnance to animal food is not the effect of experience, but is an instinct. It appeared more beautiful to live low and fare hard in many respects; and though I never did so, I went far enough to please my imagination. I believe that every man who has ever been earnest to preserve his higher or poetic faculties in the best condition has been particularly inclined to abstain from animal food, and from much food of any kind…. It is hard to provide and cook so simple and clean a diet as will not offend the imagination; but this, I think, is to be fed when we feed the body; they should both sit down at the same table. Yet perhaps this may be done. The fruits eaten temperately need not make us ashamed of our appetites, nor interrupt the worthiest pursuits. But put an extra condiment into your dish, and it will poison you.’
This chapter was a little tough to read because of the knowledge of McCandless’s death. At this point, we’re starting to realize why McCandless was unable to survive in the wild. The messy segment of Chris trying to preserve the moose meat was foreshadowing Chris’s inevitable starvation. Chris then tries to go back into civilization but then is met by unforgiving nature that wont let him escape. A dark tone set’s this chapter’s finale giving me a bleak feeling for McCandless’s situation.
Into the Wild(Page 132)
‘McCandless, I came to believe with increasing conviction, scrupulously steered clear of the toxic H. mackenzii and never ate its seeds or any other part of the plant. He was indeed poisoned, but the plant that killed him wasn’t wild sweet pea. The agent of his demise was wild potato, H. alpinum, the species plainly identified as nontoxic in Tanaina Plantlore.
The book advises only that the roots of the wild potato are edible. Although it says nothing about the seeds of the species being edible, it also says nothing about the seeds being toxic. To be fair to McCandless, it should be pointed out that the seeds of H. alpinum have never been described as toxic in any published text: An extensive search of the medical and botanical literature yielded not a single indication that any part of H. alpinum is poisonous. But the pea family (Leguminosae, to which H. alpinum belongs) happens to be rife with species that produce alkaloids— chemical compounds that have powerful pharmacological effects on humans and animals. (Morphine, caffeine, nicotine, curare, strychnine, and mescaline are all alkaloids.) And in many alkaloid-producing species, moreover, the toxin is strictly localized within the plant.’
It is the resolution of the book and we now know how McCandless died. McCandless ‘-was indeed poisoned,’ but he didn’t die without learning something from all of this. He left behind a note saying that happiness is only real when shared with other people. McCandless then writes a goodbye note saying he had a happy life. Chris went through a psycholigical journey that cost him his life, but he learned a valuable lesson. Even his mom would’ve found his adventure to be admirable if he hadn’t died. I think that some of the themes have to do with discovering who you are, forgiveness (Like with McCandless’s parents.), and freedom.
“NATURE/PURITY,” he printed in bold characters at the top of the page. Oh, how one wishes sometimes to escape from the meaningless dullness of human eloquence, from all those sublime phrases, to take refuge in nature, apparently so inarticulate, or in the wordlessness of long, grinding labor, of sound sleep, of true music, or of a human understanding rendered speechless by emotion!
This quote summarizes the book for me. I understand the quote as a relation to the plot of the book, which I thought was about restoration. McCandless was trying to purify himself through the means of isolation in the wilderness. In the quote it talks about ‘how one wishes sometimes to escape from the meaningless dullness of human eloquence, from all those sublime phrases, to take refuge in nature,’ which explains my idea of what I think the plot was about.
Overall the book presented an interesting concept that I enjoyed. The book had my attention most of the time trying to piece together the reason McCandless died. Sure, there were some parts like chapter three that went pretty slow. Overall, I thought the book was inpirational with some strong themes that shined through. At first I was annoyed that this book was going to be boring and painful to read over my peaceful summer break, but now im blessed I got to read Into the Wild’s incredible premise. I would definitely recommend this to a friend.
Analysis Of Jon Krakauer’s “Into The Wild” – True And Famous Story Of Chris Mccandless
Jon Krakauer’s biography ‘Into The Wild’ examines the true and famous story of Chris McCandless, an incredibly ascetic man that extemporaneously ventured across the American wilderness. Despite being a promising university graduate, McCandless was discovered four months later in an emaciated condition, shrouding his life and adventure in international controversy as to the beliefs he held that ultimately drove him to perish prematurely. In analyzing his journey, critics found a clear connection to his firm beliefs and actions to that of two of the great pioneers of the philosophical movement transcendentalism, a philosophy that promotes intuitive and spiritual thinking: Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.
Throughout this compelling biography, Emerson and Thoreau were indeed of evident influence to McCandless and his adventure. Consequently, he significantly embodied the key transcendentalist ideals stressed in their literature: individual supremacy, opposition to conformity and respect and inspiration towards nature.
First of all, Chris McCandless adhered to the transcendentalist belief of individual supremacy as he purposefully kept himself away from wealth and resources that he felt were excessive. For instance, he attempted this feat by donating most of his money and discarding the rest by burning it. Krakauer described that “he saw the flash flood as an opportunity to shed unnecessary baggage”. Burning his remaining cash revealed that money held no power in his life and clearly relates to Thoreau’s view that one must live their life by simple means if they are to experience fulfillment: “Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity”. Additionally, in exploring the Alaskan wildlife extemporaneously, McCandless sustained himself of very basic or even insufficient means. Describing his resources, Krakauer states that his supplies “seemed exceedingly minimal for the harsh conditions” and that he brought “no ax, no bug dope, no snowshoes, no compass”. In doing this, McCandless aimed to live a solitary life in order to delve into himself and nature. This corresponds with Emerson’s views that “a man needs to retire as much from his chamber as from society” to “separate him and with what he touches” in which he encouraging his readers to pursue nature. It is evident that in this transcendentalist concept, McCandless embodied the same beliefs that Emerson and Thoreau preached in their writings that ultimately contributed in inspiring his adventure.
Secondly, McCandless is demonstrated in this biography to have also viewed confornment as being incorrect, claiming that it resulted in a person’s spirit becoming lost. For example, he attempted to cross the United States border without an ID as he considered it his moral duty to “flout the laws of the state”. Krakauer references that he justified this illegal activity on Thoreau’s essay Civil Disobedience. In conducting this illegal action, it manifests that McCandless was strongly opposed to how society operates and that he would remain a nonconformist even if it meant him getting in severe legal trouble. Most notably, McCandless demonstrated his lack of conformity through the disrespectful and saddening ways he treated his parents in which he ultimately cut them out from his life: “Their fraudulent marriage and our father’s denial of his other son was, for Chris, a murder of every day’s truth”. Eliminating contact with his parents conveyed that he lived how he desired and avoided negative external influence: a clear transcendentalist principal. Emerson also thoroughly stressed that conformity is erroneous and that it results in a complete loss of individuality in his essay Self-Reliance: “Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist.” Citing Thoreau and Emerson’s work as justification for his protests further reinforces that they embodied and shared identical transcendentalist beliefs.
Finally, respect and inspiration shown toward nature is an additionally evident transcendentalist principal portrayed by McCandless and is seen celebrated extensively by Emerson and Thoreau in their writings. As to the reasoning of McCandless venturing into the Alaskan wilderness, Krakauer remarks that “McCandless went into the wilderness…to explore the inner country of his own soul”. He further cites that he sought the wilderness as a gateway to gaining knowledge, inner-understanding and a chance for spiritual reflection. Comparatively, Emerson indeed states that the “the rays that come from those heavenly worlds, will separate him from what he touches”. In writing this, Emerson suggested that we should pursue nature to form a deeper connection with ourselves and God. Furthermore, Thoreau was known to have been unable to write without direct inspiration from nature. McCandless’s views on nature were central to his beliefs and his adventure and clearly demonstrate a resemblance to Emerson and Thoreau’s writings.
McCandless significantly embodied the ideals of the philosophical leaders Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau through the key principles of transcendentalism: individual supremacy, opposition to conformity and extreme respect toward nature. I am quite opposed to the shared views presented by Emerson, Thoreau and McCandless and I find particularly incorrect their insistence that conformity is erroneousness. This essentially encourages readers to pursue their most ridiculous fantasies even if, in the instance of McCandless, it involves cutting out your parents from you life. This will likely result in emotional, social ridicule and is not effective advice for young people growing up in an increasingly insecure world. I also strongly disagree with the transcendentalist belief discussed above of individual supremacy as I personally care more for my family and those I love than I do for myself. I do, on the contrary, respect and appreciate that nature can be used as a gateway to spiritual awareness and a closer relationship with God. I may even try this in an attempt to tackle my future studies as it will allow me to be more calm and in control. Ultimately however, Chris McCandless was a promising young man that lived by transcendentalist means and subsequently perished prematurely; I would thus never endorse or fully embrace this philosophy. I have thoroughly enjoyed studying these writers over the summer and learning of the compelling yet saddening story of Chris McCandless.
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer – a Study of the Individual Lifestyle of the Protagonist
Into the Call of the Wild Critical Review
The novel Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer was overall an entertaining and thought provoking piece of literature. The protagonist, Chris “Alex” McCandless, took a journey across America to live the exciting life of a vagrant. Chris left home after graduating college to pursue the life he always wanted, also to escape the restrictions of his parents. He met a variety of interesting characters along the way that ultimately made him realize the greater value in relationships over that of living an independent and individual lifestyle.
A strong novel in terms of entertainment will give a lot of detail to draw the reader in and bring the story to life. One of the novel’s strengths revolves around the explicit and enthralling description of each moment of action. By doing so, Krakauer is able to bring the audience along the journey and give the emotion that Chris felt to the reader. In this passage, Krakauer describes the intense adrenaline that one endures while participating in such as activities such as climbing the Devil’s Thumb. “The accumulated clutter of day-to-day existence—the lapses of conscience, the unpaid bills, the bungled opportunities, the dust under the couch, the inescapable prison of your genes—all of it is temporarily forgotten, crowded from your thoughts by an overpowering clarity of purpose and by the seriousness of the task at hand.” (142) This creates a sense of solidarity and allows the reader to escape the same way that Chris does through his journey, thus separating the importance of relationships for the need to survive. This strength allows the reader to relate to it because human relationships are subjects that cannot be evaded.
One of the novel’s weaknesses is that it constantly goes from viewpoint to viewpoint. Krakauer uses various viewpoints in order to show how Chris’ story can be interpreted in many different ways, and to reveal how many people this story has affected. However, doing this can leave the reader confused in who is narrating the story. “God, he was a smart kid,” the old man rasps in a barely audible voice.” (37) This opinion creates a single view of Chris that differs from various viewpoints throughout the novel. These differing viewpoints can make it more difficult for the reader to understand what Chris McCandless was actually like. This can also distract the reader from understanding Krakauer’s intended message.
Into the Wild is appropriate for our grade level because it contains a large vocabulary and plenty of deeper themes. It will not only engage students into the overall plot, but interest them in it’s themes about individualism, independence, and ingenuity. Thematic ideas like this one, “The only person you are fighting is yourself and your stubbornness to engage in new circumstances,” (Krakauer) are found throughout the book and Chris’ story. This is significant because Krakauer explores ideas that relate to the audience and society during that time. It is weak in terms of education because it is not as rich in rhetorical/literary devices as other studied novels. It is still appropriate for teaching in high schools, but not the perfect choice when compared to other works of literature.
The overall message of Into the Wild is that human relationships and interactions are more significant than the value found in surviving off the land. The world would not be able to function without relationships between people, families, and countries. Chris comes to this realization after his journey comes to a tragic end, as documented in the novel, “he noted, “HAPPINESS ONLY REAL WHEN SHARED,”” (187). Chris always left people behind when he felt too attached, but in the end, it was his insistence upon independence that killed him. Krakauer uses his story to hit his message home.
This novel is one worth of a recommendation but only for entertainment purposes, not for education for any future SSR readers. Into the Wild had a fun and entertaining story to tell and was in fact a good read, making it easier to become motivated to read, but the novel lacked literary and rhetorical strategies and uses and only had a theme to teach.
All in all, Into the Wild was sufficiently entertaining and rich in it’s relatable themes. We enjoyed Chris’ story and appreciated the inclusion of other similar cases for their contribution to the novel’s meaning.
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer: an Critical Analysis of Chapters 1-18
The book “In the wild” is an entertaining tale that covers the life of a young man Chris McCandless. Chris is not pleased with materialism and starvation. He considers his father not to be an ideal man that fits him. At first, we are convinced that Chris is a hero who overcomes all odds to start his life independently. However, McCandless does not strive at overcoming all odds other than finding an easy way of doings things; he cuts off real relationships with his family and relatives(Krakauer, 2011). This paper reviews the book “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer, in particular, chapter 1-18.
“Into The Wild” Analysis
I find the book “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer entertaining and interesting to learn. The book displays Chris McCandless as a hero and a courageous man who flies in the face of things he grew up with and finds a better way. In chapter 1, the main fact standing out from the chapter is McCandless’s independence in which he cuts off links with his family and renames himself as Alexander Supertramp. This shows that McCandless is no longer interested in his family and wants to start his new beginning.
However, my question is whether McCandless used the name Alexander Supertramp as a way of honoring the great Alexander, who conquered vast territories or he chooses the name coincidently. With the encounter with Jim Gallien, Gallien thinks McCandless is another delusional visitor to the Alaskan frontier” though he later discovers McCandless to be intelligent and thoughtful. I think in this chapter; I can describe McCandless as a hero who does things his way.
In chapter 2,3 and 4, the main fact standing out from the chapters is starvation and hunger. In Chapter 2 after the discovery of McCandless’s body, the body is merely 67 pounds and hunger is believed to be the cause of his death. In chapter 3, McCandless gives $24,000 he received to the OXFAM America, which is an organization that fights hunger and starvation.
McCandless writes to his parents at his graduation that “I think I’m going to disappear for a mile” only to die later of hunger. In Chapter 4, we are told that McCandless lived on nothing other than “five pounds of rice and what marine life he could pull from the sea.” The main question from these chapters is whether McCandless ever thought of his family or desire to go back home. From these chapters, I describe McCandless as a foolish person who cuts real relationships to find an easy way only to die later, just because of starvation.
In chapter 5,6 and 7, the fact standing from the chapters is McCandless’s foolishness. In chapter 5, McCandless performs a foolish act of ruining his camera and burying it in the desert. He also writes to his friends Jan Burres and Bob that he stopped working because he was tired of working with “plastic people.” His foolishness is evident in chapter 7 in which he rejects Ronald Franz’s advice to abandon the encampment which Franz believes is a bad influence. McCandless says “I have a college education; I’m living like this by choice.”
Lastly in chapter 7, McCandless writes that “I’m going to divorce my parents once and for all and never speak to either of those stupid idiots again as I live.” From these chapters, however, the question is why McCandless chooses to suffer and do things independently, yet there are friends around him such as Ronald Franz, who are willing to assist him. The main character in these chapters is McCandless, whom again in one word can describe as a fool.
Jon Krakauer presents the noteworthiness and newsworthiness of disappearance into the desert to be covered in articles.
In chapter 8, it is the McCandless story’s that is covered in the Outside magazine. In chapter 9, the story published is of Everett Reuss, who also disappeared in the America Southwest desert in the 1930s. Everett says that “I want to live more intensely and richly” and this is the reason he goes into the wilderness. Chapter 10 again presents the coverage of McCandless’s death in the “Anchorage Daily News”.
These chapters present that the disappearance into the desert is worth to be covered not only in Alaska but also in the national press. However, my question from these chapters is why a person can enter into the wilderness where life is unpredictable at the expense of his/her life. The main characters in these chapters are McCandless, and Everett Reuss, whom I think are in one word, independent.
The chapters 11, 12, 13 and 14 tend to cover McCandless’s character of liking fun, enjoyable and entertainment. In chapter 11, we are told that McCandless’s family liked traveling, and this could have contributed to McCandless’s fan liking behavior. The same continues to be explained in chapter 12 in which McCandless went for a trip the summer before his freshman year of college. In his trips and being far from home, he never communicated for a long time, something that made his family worry about his safety. For instance, in chapter 12, we are told her mother at one midnight woke up, certain that she had heard McCandless begging; “Mom! help me!”.
McCandless’s death can be attributed to his long trip to Alaska and as seen in chapter 13, her mother Billie is “weeping” and considers the loss to be “so huge.” The chapter 14 present Jon Krakauer’s similarity with McCandless’s fan liking behavior, in which here Jon Krakauer climbs a Stikine ice cap. From these chapters, my question is whether McCandless’s family if it had intervened, could have altered his behavior and thus change his fate. Overly, from these chapters, McCandless is presented to be adventurous.
In Chapter 15, Jon Krakauer describes thoughts he believed he shared with McCandless when he was young. For instance, he mentions that “when I decided to go Alaska, that April, like McCandless, I was a raw youth who mistook passion for insight.” This is suggestive of thoughts youths possess when they hit a certain age bracket. After going through the chapter, the question that rings in my mind is whether his father or family contributed to his desire of going to Alaska. I think Jon Krakauer is crafty just like McCandless.
The main fact in chapter 16 is the interior of Alaska that describes McCandless’ climatic Alaska adventure. As presented in the chapter, McCandless did not prepare well for his life in the wilderness and lacked simple navigation instruments like the map. Jon Krakauer describes McCandless’s ignorance of the river; “McCandless does not know because he refused to obtain a map of the area”. However, although the river can be crossed one mile upstream, I can’t picture of the river passage in terms of its size because the author does not give its measurements. The main character in this chapter is McCandless, who is displayed to be adventurous.
Chapter 17 cover the Stampede trail. It overly covers McCandless’s experience with Teklanika River and the hostile environment he experienced during his stay in Alaska which Jon Krakauer doubts whether it was wilderness. Jon Krakauer mentions; did McCandless go “into the wild” and considers the environment not to be wilderness at all. Jon Krakauer appears to a sadist who ridicules McCandless’s stay in the hostile environment and thinks the area did not deserve to be labeled wilderness.
The major concept standing out in chapter 18 is McCandless’s death which is likened to starvation. However, Jon Krakauer mentions that it may not be starvation that killed McCandless, but arrogance and shortsightedness could have been the reasons. Covered in McCandless’s writing is “happiness only real when shared”, which attracts the question whether he ultimately forgave his family. To some degree, I think McCandless is unforgiving since, in all his writings, he does acknowledge his family even with a simple goodbye. In conclusion, I find the book “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer educative; therefore, I recommend it to be used by individuals studying classic literature especially when analyzing McCandless’s life.
Analysis of Jon Krakauer’s Book Into The Wild: Teachings of Knowledge Beyond Formal Education
A Wilderness As a Classroom
Education is usually seen as existing only in a classroom with a teacher or professor and a set lesson plan. However, Into the Wild by Jon Krakaeur showcases how Chris McCandless believed education does not exist solely in a classroom; McCandless believed education could be found through living and experiencing life. A classroom can only teach so much, and this sort of teaching is typically only memorization. Students learn material that is quickly forgotten once the last question of the course is answered. For people to truly learn, they must go through life and live and experience the world for what it is, whether that is warm and exciting or cold and bleak. Education, in its most honest form, exists primarily in our life experiences and in the world around us.
Although school and academics are very important, teaching is often done inadequately, as shown in “The Banking Concept of Education” by Paulo Freire. This text by Freire focuses on how teachers often only “deposit” knowledge into the minds of the learner, but this knowledge is never used beyond the classroom or forces the learner to take a critical look at the realities of life. Freire writes, “Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiqués and makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat” (Freire 319). When “the banking concept” is used in a classroom, students do not ever use their deposited knowledge to think critically about the world around them. Thereby, the students are never transformed or liberated. This type of education does not prepare students for reality, because all they have been doing is memorization. In order to be successful with their education, students must be forced to think critically about the world they live, or they will leave school no better than when they first entered. This type of critical thinking typically comes with experiencing life and seeing life for how it honestly is. Into the Wild is the story of how Chris McCandless experienced life this way, and he was described as a critical thinker. When Jon Krakaeur was investigating Chris’s death, Krakaeur met a man named Wayne Westberg who described Chris as someone who “tried too hard to make sense of the world, to figure out why people were bad to each other so often” (Krakauer 18). McCandless attended school and did very well, and this set a basis for his ability to think critically. However, McCandless’ desire to think critically and find answers in the world came from his experiences and what shaped him, whether that was his relationship with his father or inability to be satisfied with relationships. This type of desire cannot be taught be schools. Chris was constantly searching for this sense of satisfaction, and this desire molded by his experiences is what led to Chris being a critical thinker, not his formal education. As shown in, “The Banking Concept”, to truly learn is to question, to be creative, to be transformed, and to be liberated. Chris met all of these qualifications, but it was not entirely because of where he went to school or how well he did in school. Instead, Chris found transformation and liberation while traveling and learning from those he met along the way, as well as himself. A formal education helped set the basis for Chris to become a critical thinker, but his experiences are what led him to pursue a life of critical thinking. All Chris later found himself needing after college was a few supplies, some caring strangers, and the will to survive.
Obviously, Chris McCandless was a man of nature. In Rousseau’s Emile, Rousseau describes two types of education: domestic education and the education of nature. Simply put, domestic education is what man learns under the influence of society, and the education of nature is what man learns through pursuing his/her own passions and interests unaffected by the influence of society. In the education of nature, education is meant to flow freely and naturally, untouched by corruption. McCandless, “allowing his life to be shaped by circumstance” (Krakauer 29), sought out the education of nature. Along with his rice, rifle, and Tolstoy, McCandless carried with him books about the plants he could and could not eat and the knowledge he picked up from hunters and locals on his way to Alaska. Chris learned how to navigate through waters, how to hunt, how to traverse various types of land, and most importantly, how to truly live and be satisfied with life. Chris was motived by and learned from his passions, which is what Rousseau described to be an education of nature. Rousseau writes, “Men want nothing as nature made it, not even man. For them, man must be trained like a school horse. Man must be fashioned in keeping with their fashion like a tree in their garden” (Rousseau 57). Rousseau is explaining that man wants so badly to confine its existence and create set ways of living, which limits the nature of man to be passionate and adventurous.
Clearly, McCandless saw this and was repulsed by the idea that living and learning was supposed to be so strict, especially when he faired so much better in nature without these confinements. In his letter to Ron Franz, McCandless wrote,
“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism…The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” (Krakauer 57)
As Rousseau explained, the best type of education is a result of allowing man to pursue his interests and what comes naturally to him. McCandless, in the last part of his life, pursued this passion for adventure that comes naturally to man instead of conforming to the influences of society. As a result, Chris lived and learned more than most ever could, especially compared to those who sit in a classroom barely listening, memorizing, and reciting.
Although McCandless pursued a life in the wild, detached from “plastic people” and intimacy, his life was not always like this. It is not as though Chris was unsuccessful in a formal academic setting and was forced to live on the road as a “bum”. Krakauer wrote, “In May 1990, Chris graduated from Emory University in Atlanta, where he’d been a columnist for, and editor of, the student newspaper, The Emory Wheel, and had distinguished himself as a history and anthropology major with a 3.72 grade-point average. He was offered membership in Phi Beta Kappa but declined, insisting that titles and honors are irrelevant” (Krakauer 20). Obviously a success, but obviously unsatisfied, Chris turned to a life of adventure and an unsure future. This decision can be traced back to a number of factors, such as his relationship with his father, his infatuation with Jack London and Tolstoy, or simply his personality. However, his decision had nothing to do with lack of choice. In a conversation with Ron Franz where Franz was trying to convince him to “make something of his life”, McCandless said, “You don’t need to worry about me. I have a college education. I’m not destitute. I’m living like this by choice” (Krakauer 51). McCandless was explaining to Franz how he was aware of the risks and implications, but his choice to pursue a nomadic life was well thought out and not impulsive. Chris was searching for something he could not find in his life at home or in college, explaining “I have always been unsatisfied with life as most people live it. Always I want to live more intensely and richly” (Krakauer 91). In another letter to Franz, Chris wrote “You are wrong if you think Joy emanates only or principally from human relationships. God has placed it all around us. It is in everything and anything we might experience. We just have to have the courage to turn against our habitual lifestyle and engage in unconventional living” (Krakauer 57). In this letter, Chris is explaining how he does not need companionship to be happy; Chris was purely happy living on his own in nature. During the first two decades or so of his, Chris realized what both Freire and Rousseau had explained. Freire wrote about how education was often just memorization and recital that never left the student liberated or transformed. Rousseau explained how the best type of education, the education of nature, required the pursuit of what came naturally and what was untouched by the hands of man. Chris’s realization of what it meant to live and to learn ultimately led him to spending the rest of his life as a nomad, searching for satisfaction and wanting to learn. As a result, Chris was enlightened, was transformed, and was liberated through his time on the road.
Although Chris’s adventure had a fatal and depressing ending, his knowledge and beliefs were not invalidated because of this unfortunate ending. Anyone could accidentally eat mold and die as a result; his death does not change anything. McCandless wrote, “It is the experiences, the memories, the great triumphant joy of living to the fullest extent in which real meaning is found” (Krakauer 37). For Chris, meaning did not reside in his time spent in college as an anthropology and history major with a 3.7 grade-point-average. Instead, Chris found meaning in his experiences, both good and bad, during his time in the “wild”. This philosophy held so fervently by Chris was further validated by the works of Freire and Rousseau, who both gave us a better glimpse into what Chris McCandless was probably thinking and feeling throughout the years he spent hitchhiking, working odd jobs, being stubborn, and living a life detached from the rest of civilization through the explanation of “The Banking Concept” and the difference between domesticated education and the education of nature. Chris McCandless’ lack of belief in formal education was not that of a crazed, uneducated man. His lack of belief in formal education was molded by his experiences, which is ultimately where most of his wisdom and knowledge came from.
The Determination of Chris McCandless as Demonstrated in Jon Krakauer’s Book, Into the Wild
A New Life
There have been thousands of inspirational characters who have left their life behind and venture off into the outside world in order to find a purpose or goal in their life. Carl McCunn and John Waterman were examples of a few of many hikers who have ventured off to their goal. Carl McCunn was an explorer who loved to photograph the wildlife. He then later committed suicide after realizing he was trapped ar Brooks Range as mentioned in the book, “Into The Wild.” Waterman was an mentally unbalanced hiker who died attempting to hike the mountains of Denali. Another example, is the main guy, Chris McCandless. He is a man who is somewhat between Waterman and McCunn. McCandless was stable and did not expect anyone to save him during his tragedies in the wild. McCandless sets out to the Alaska depth to find his purpose of life and free himself way from society. With the hearings of his rigorous ideas and his goals in life that led him to explore, he helps people accept the fact that life isn’t always based on luxuries or things that are materialistic but based on the things that make you happy, for you. He believes that people should handle life on their own hands and with their own brain. People’s’ spirits are developed by experiences according to McCandless. Based on his beliefs and ideas, this shows that Chris McCandless was a modern inspirational philosopher who want to find the purpose to his life.
In the book, “Into The Wild,” Jon Krakauer, the author of the book, expresses that, “Driving west out of atlanta, he intended to invent an utterly new life for himself, are in which he would be free to wallow in unfiltered experiences. To symbolize the complete severance from his previous life, he even adopted a new name. No longer would he answer to Chris McCandless; he was now Alexander SuperTramp, master of his own destiny.” (Krakauer 23) has convinced me to believe that based on the claim, Chris may not have known what he was looking for but has known what he has escaped from, a life away from the suburbs and the people who leaves bad environment on him. An example would be his parents. He wants to live life on his own terms and not to focus on materialistic things. Chris eventual new goal was to live in alone in the wilderness in Alaska, which he did for months. With evidence, he wasn’t as prepared as he should since going to his journey. However, he has realized that the fact came onto him and decided to attempt going him, but discovered that his route to going back to the suburbs is blocked. He then turns back and meets his fate.
Chris McCandless, in my opinion was considered a devoted modern-like inspirational philosopher based on his beliefs. An example to my claim is that when McCandless encountered a river in which he had to cross. Knowing his fear of the river, he had the courage to cross through the river because he believed that it is important to, “measure yourself at least once, to find yourself once in the most ancient of human condition. Facing the blind death stone with nothing to help you but your hands and your own head.” (McCandless 44). In a sense, McCandless lived and met with quite some people. They claim that Chris had given them some meaningful ideas that have led them to keep those words Chris had said to them, in their hearts. When Chris was away, he wrote a letter to Ron Franze with the line, “You are wrong if you think Joy emanates only of principally from human relationships. God has placed it all around us. It is in everything and anything we might experience. We just have to have the courage to form against our habitual lifestyle and engage in unconventional thing.” (57) to whom Chris think Franz as a father figure. Having told Ron Franz to go somewhere else and enjoy life while he can, I believe that this shows how much of a caring and inspirational person Chris McCandless is.
Christopher was a fool
Christopher was a boy who was born in a rich East Coast family. He graduated from one of the best universities in the United States. However, he wasn’t content with his life and didn’t know what the truth about his existence was. Therefore, he decided to abandon his family and society to find his sincere self, which was his vital target. He thought that he wasn’t the person that he was supposed to be. Clearly, he was ready to sacrifice himself to find his original self and his true being. He went on a long journey that ended in Alaska. After living alone for 112 days, he died due to starvation. Life is a gift which is given by God.
In life, we all have some responsibilities to implement, such as worshiping, serving our parents, and serving and protecting our countries, which are holy tasks. We all encounter hardships and crises. Nevertheless, Christopher ignored all of these responsibilities and pursued his selfish thought. Therefore, I believe that he was surely foolish.Have you ever seen a hero who has run from a place where he has encountered problems? The answer is no because a hero is a person who is ready to face any difficulties in order to solve them.
However, Christopher abandoned the place where he had problems, so his deeds such as leaving his family, money, and friends pointed out that he was a fool. Young children should be ready to sacrifice their lives in order to protect and develop their countries because if they don’t do it, who will? Nevertheless, Chris deserted his society instead of serving and protecting it. Once, he said, “How important it is in not life necessarily to be strong but feel strong.” His decision was the opposite of his quote because if he was strong or felt strong, he should have faced his problems in the society instead of his foolish decision, which was quitting the society.
In addition, he also gave a bad message to all teenagers. His actions showed that leaving the society is a way to solve problems though it is the opposite of reality. For example, you have an internal problem in your home and want to solve it. Do you think that leaving your home may help you solve it? No, it isn’t possible; thus he was a fool. This isn’t the mere reason that persuaded me he was foolish; ignoring his loyal family and a great degree is another factor. Even though he had a respectful and loving family and graduated from one of the best universities in the USA, he was being foolish and left them. His family gave him what he wanted and required. Therefore, he was supposed to take care of his parents, but he didn’t even think about it, and he also forfeited his family to fulfill his selfish aim.
When parents become old, they can’t live independently because they may face many difficulties which they don’t have the ability to solve. Who is responsible to help elderly parents unless their children? Mr. Jamel, who is my relative, is very happy because he has a son. He usually says that his son is the mainstay of his life. He knows when he gets old, his son will be the first person to support him. As a result, Christopher should have remained at home to take care of his parents when they aren’t able to run their lives. Moreover, almost everyone tends to get a good degree in order to get a good job.
According to Chris’s story, I realized that a professional degree can’t help you get a job if you are a fool because Chris had a good degree, but he didn’t have any job due to his foolishness. He also said,” The core of man’s spirit comes from experience.” However, he didn’t take any responsibilities in the society to enhance his experience. He should have gotten a great job and improved his skills. He also should have found what the truth is through working and experiencing. However, He was a fool due to not caring about these points. There are some people who say he was a hero because he tried to be independent and to find the truth. He also burnt his money because money is nothing for heroes.
However, their ideas are totally irrational. For their first reason, he could have been independent in his country. For example, he could have married the beautiful girl whom he met during his journey and lived independently. He also might have found the truth while living and working in his country. Although he went to find his true self, he killed himself. Wasn’t he a fool while going to find something but losing everything? Also, burning money makes no one a hero but a fool. If a man has a mind, how can he burn money unless it is a sign of being foolish? Why didn’t he save it or give it to charity? Well, good question. I know why because he was utterly foolish.
In conclusion, human beings are creatures who should be different from other creatures such as animals. For instance, we have some responsibilities and attributes which animals don’t have. For example, we must worship our God and invoke Him to give us paradise. We should live in societies where other populations live, be honest and helpful, save our countries, and take care of elderly people and support them. We are supposed to encounter severe hardships because we are strong and can defeat every difficult circumstance. We should also respect our parents and obey them, get a good degree and get tasks, and respect life and save it. We shouldn’t put ourselves in danger because we desire to have safe lives. Finally, we should get married and produce new generations who will repeat what we have done. These are some difference between us and animals. Let me ask you a vital question, did Christopher do what human beings are supposed to do? No, he didn’t, and his actions were totally the opposite of people’s deeds. He acted merely like an animal; therefore, he was a fool.
“Into The Wild” by Jon Krakauer
Jon Krakauer wrote a biography, Into The Wild (1996), describing a man’s, Chris McCandless, life before and during his journey to Alaska to be able to discover himself and a new life while leaving his family with worry and pain. Jon Krakauer has demonstrated Chris’s relationship with his family, like his father who he did not get along with and his sister who he adored so much, and how he left his family without warning or ever contacting them during his journey. Chris McCandless has always been around money and a caring family that he wanted to see the reality of the real world where money is not in it or the importance of his family. He supports his claim by describing McCandless’s journey while meeting new people and experiencing new things like living independently and not being around so much money like his family. Krakauer has discussed his own experiences, in the book, traveling to Alaska like McCandless, comparing their experiences based off McCandless’s journal and Chris’s acquaintances that he has met on his journey.
The author made sure to include many thoughts and opinions on Chris McCandless’s courageous journey without the right equipment and money to help him get through. In the end of the book Krakauer described the death of Chris McCandless in Alaska in the magic bus, died from starvation because he was unprepared. Krakauer’s purpose is to show how reckless, selfish, and courageous someone can be in order to discover themselves and finding the meaning of life while also impacting others” lives. Jon Krakauer adopts an empathetic tone for people who want to discover themselves and travel to do so. If Chris McCandless were to look back at his inspirational journey and see the grief and pain he caused his family, he would have still went on this journey because it was the only way for him to find his independence and find himself. Chris McCandless had met many people, went unprepared on purpose, traveled on his own, and depended on himself. Although Chris McCandless went on a difficult journey while leaving pain and grief to his family, he did live an inspiring life because he followed his dream journey to discover himself without letting anything stop him.Some people would not leave their family unannounced and cause so much grief and worry, but Chris McCandless did. Chris McCandless’s family had expected so much from him like him going to Emory college and graduate from the school his father went to. McCandless has been living in Atlanta for a while and was able to call and send letters to his family to keep them updated about his life, but then he stopped contacting them which led to them going to Atlanta to see what was going on and they found his apartment empty without him. In the book it stated, “Five weeks earlier held loaded all his belongings into his little car and headed west without an itinerary…an epic journey that would change everything.” (Krakauer, 22)
Jon Krakauer has shown what McCandless has done before his parents showed up. He meant that McCandless has followed his dream that will change him. Chris McCandless has made sure to not warn his family at all about his leave. This may have been tough one for McCandless since he did everything to satisfy them and kept them updated. McCandless has also kept a close bond with his little sister, Carine McCandless, which he also caused grief to in the end. Carine was more understanding to why her brother left which she said in the book, “…But I didn’t really feel hurt by his failure to write. I knew he was happy and doing what he wanted to do; I understood that it was important for him to see how independent he could be…”(125) Both family members felt different to the situation on why Chris left without warning. McCandless was able to go on his journey with the worryness he left his family not letting it disturb him.Throughout his journey to Alaska McCandless had met many people who offered their help to him. Chris McCandless had started going by the name Alex Supertramp or Alex McCandless when he began his journey and met his first acquaintance. Beginning of the book Jim Gallien was coming from Fairbanks and picked up a hitchhiker, Chris McCandless, taking him to the stampede trail. During the car ride Gallien got to know more about what Chris was carrying which made Gallien concerned since the young man was unprepared. In the book he has stated, “There was just no talking the guy out of it,” Gallien remembers. “He was determined… He couldn’t wait to head out there and get started.””(6)
Jim Gallien meant that he tried to scare the boy but Chris would not back down. Gallien noticed how determined Chris was to explore the wild without the right equipments, cold weather, and not enough food to last him. The speaker, Gallien, and I both noticed how determined McCandless was for his wild journey. Letting nothing stop him even if it means he may not survive. Chris McCandless has been working at Mcdonalds and many coworkers would offer him help or a ride home since he came to work many time smelling awful. In the book Krakauer has wrote, “ McCandless had tried to disguise the fact he was a drifter living out of a backpack: He told his fellow employees that he lived across the river in Laughlin.” (41) McCandless has been camping and squatting in vacant homes. He was hiding that he was homeless, so possibly no would feel bad or offer help. McCandless was having a difficult moment where he had to work for his money and not let people know he was homeless, because he would not accept any help. In the end Chris McCandless was able to make it to his final destination in his journey, Alaska. After Jim Gallien had dropped him off at the Stampede Trail, Chris found himself the in the “magic bus”. The magic bus was a bus stranded in the Stampede Trail where it got stuck during the snowing season so people left it for others to stay in and keep warm. While he was able to make it, he got poisoned by some seeds he mistaken. In Chris McCandless’s journal he wrote, “DAY 100! MADE IT!” he noted jubilantly on August 5, proud of achieving such a significant milestone. “But in weakest condition of life. Death looms as serious threat…trapped in wild…’” (195)
Chris knew he was not going to make it but everyday for him was an achievement surviving. This was a difficult time for McCandless since he was getting weak and getting close to death. Chris McCandless knew about the possibilities of dying and he still took the chance to go unprepared and able to achieve his dream.Everyone had something or someone that inspired them to do something with their lives or choices, like for Chris McCandless it was Henry David Thoreau and Leo Tolstoy. In Family Happiness by Leo Tolstoy it stated, “I wanted movement and not a calm course of existence. I wanted excitement and danger and the chance to sacrifice myself for my love. I felt in myself a superabundance of energy which found no outlet in our quiet life.” (15) This passage was highlighted in McCandless’s book found with him. This quote related to his family since they were not a close family since the parents expected a lot from Chris and always pushed for the perfect son. In the book Chris mentions that his father was with his first wife during the time Billie, Chris’s mother, had Chris McCandless, which led to Chris McCandless being angry at that fact. Chris did not have a close bond with his father for that reason also. Another passage was highlighted in Walden, Or Life In The Woods by Henry David Thoreau and it stated, “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth. I sat at a table where were rich food and wine in abundance an obsequious attendance, but sincerity and truth were not; and I went away hungry from the inhospitable board. The hospitality was as cold as the ices.” (117)
Chris McCandless believed he did not need so much money or the love from his family to explore and he wanted to make Thoreau and Tolstoy proud. McCandless burned his money where he decided to leave his datsun, his car, and some other items. Krakauer has stated, “…he arranged all his paper currency in a pile on the sand–a pathetic little stack of ones and fives and twenties–and put a match to it…” (29)
McCandless wanted to tramp around and hitchhike. He wanted to live a life that does not involve around money. This was quite inspiring since Chris was always around money and the wealth of his family, but he was able to leave that behind and not let it run his life. Although Chris McCandless did leave grief and pain to his family as he left unannounced, he did live an inspiring life because he was able to become self aware and independent. This journey of his has let him be more self aware of himself and life, he wanted to experience another life experience besides jobs and school. He was able to just pack a few things and leave while his family stayed behind. Chris McCandless lived without money and the right materials to stay in the wild on purpose. If Chris McCandless could look back then he would not regret anything that happened, which was that he was able to learn and achieve his journey.
The Life of Chris Mccandless in into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
Into The Wild Review
Jon Krakauer’s bestseller Into the Wild is at first glance a biography and background story to an event that made national headlines; but on a closer look it actually turns out to be an attempt at documenting the human condition and trying to simplify life into a straight forward story, instead of the complex mess it really is, along with showing readers how much of a lasting effect Chris McCandless left on people and the importance of personal connections. Krakauer manages to describe his subject, Chris McCandless’ life through using interviews with people who had known him in life to tell the reader how Chris lived and the impressions he left on people, instead of Krauker simply describing Chris himself.
This is a recurring motif throughout the entire story, where Chris left a sizable impact on just about anyone he met on his journey, so much so that even someone Chris described as a “lunatic” still remembered Chris clearly years later and was able to describe McCandless’ behavior (Page 41). Along the same idea, Krakauer is able to profoundly describe Chris without using any words of his own, instead using the words of an old woman to paint a picture for the reader of who Chris was and she said “I only spent a few hours in [Chris’] company, it amazes me how much I’m bothered by his death” (Page 67). Coming from an aged woman, this statement carries particular weight because it makes Chris seem to be a once in a lifetime person, who could make an impression on just about anyone he ever had the chance of speaking with.
However, although Krakauer seems to hit his stride in the book when using interviews to describe McCandless, this author still makes a dignified attempt at simplifying the complicated thing called life, even if he did trip up occasionally. Kraukauer tries to make Chris’ story into a narrative by leaving out what he deemed boring and only filling the reader in on what he thought was necessary for the “central plot” of Chris’ life to advance. For example, Krakauer completely skips an enormous chunk of Chris’ trip into Alaska, and the reader only becomes aware of this time skip after someone being interviewed about Chris says that they drove him for a thousand miles, although Krakauer only spends a few paragraphs on this particular person and their interactions with Chris (Page 160).
Another part in the story where I felt that Krakauer slipped and simply was not able to make his narrative of Chris work smoothly, was Chris’ adventure down south into Mexico. On a 5-month canoe excursion into Mexico, Krauker seems to be unable to give any reasoning as to why this journey important for Chris and why the reader even needs to know this event ever happened, like he did for most other events in Chris’ life that Krakauer describes. Kraukuer seems to almost forget this event even happened later in the story, never referencing it again. Although this seems like it would’ve been a very eventful journey in Chris’ life, Jon only spends about three pages in total on this trip and what it meant for Chris, which I felt was strange seeing as for almost every other aspect of Chris’ life, Krauker writes as if he were telling a story and did not want the audience to miss any important details, but he for some reason chose to virtually never again mention Chris’ trip down south, and the significance it had for Chris.
However, even through some of his missteps, Jon Krakauer is still able to paint a beautiful picture and make sense of the life of someone who tried to make their own life unfollowable. He was able to redeem the legacy of Chris McCandless and show him off to the world as a extraordinary individual.
Jon Krakauer’s View of the Role of the Badlands as Depicted in His Book, into the Wild
Properties of the Wilderness
The wilderness is composed of a variety of landscapes that are both captivating and treacherous in nature. Such environments inspired Chris McCandless to substitute his life of conformity for spontaneity, and to trek across the country unto his death. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer retraces McCandless’ obscure journey across North America. Before presenting the findings of McCandless’ travels, Krakauer introduces each chapter with one or two epigraphs, often excerpts highlighted by McCandless himself. A particular epigraph originates from Roderick Nash’s Wilderness and the American Mind, arguing the purpose of the wilderness:
Wilderness appealed to those bored or disgusted with man and his works. It not only offered an escape from society but also was an ideal stage for the Romantic individual to exercise the cult that he frequently made for his own soul. The solitude and total freedom of the wilderness created a perfect setting for either melancholy or exultation. (quoted in Krakauer, 157)
This epigraph captures the utilization of the wilderness as an escape from humanity and a platform to openly express thought. However, Nash fails to mention the instinctive need for socialization and the inability of nature to solve all problems.
Wilderness can be characterized by land in its rawest form, free of industrialization and human intervention. Because nature strikingly contrasts cities, it is often a location where people flee in order to not only escape society, but also escape their problems in it. McCandless fled for the wilderness to evade “the impending threat of human intimacy, of friendship, and all the messy emotional baggage that comes with it” (Krakauer, 55). Nature’s isolation from society allows for one to sever their contact with the rest of the world and achieve ultimate solitude. Upon entering the wilderness, McCandless was finally “emancipated from the stifling world of material excess, a world in which he felt grievously cut off from the raw throb of existence” (22).
Wilderness is the perfect environment in which to actively practice philosophical thoughts, especially those instilled by the Romanticism movement. Romantic thought is heavily influenced by inspiration drawn from nature. McCandless, “born into the wrong century” (174), was a modern romantic of his time and openly displayed his enamoration in the freedom of the wilderness. Nature provides the inspiration needed to fuel creative drive while maintaining insusceptibility to government control or criticism. Universal freedom granted by the wilderness allows uninhibited expression of a large spectrum of beliefs and emotions. In the wilderness McCandless adopts and develops his own philosophy of “Deliberate Living” and the “Great Holiness of Food” (168) successfully without anyone to debunk his beliefs.
Although the wilderness is an environment for ultimate freedom, it must not be demeaned into a platform to balance problems. The epigraph captures the positive aspects of the wilderness but leaves negative traits associated with the wilderness unacknowledged. Nash portrays solitude as a benefit in nature, but deprivation of social contact can cause intense loneliness or psychological weakness. Humans have adapted to be social creatures, and therefore tend to enjoy the company of others, especially in unnerving circumstances. Krakauer explains, “I’m happy as hell that I’m not here alone” (176), when traversing through the disquieting landscape of Alaska. Even McCandless kept in contact with close friends Jan Burres and Wayne Westerberg throughout his journey. And although many seek to escape their problems in the wilderness, sometimes the problems will still remain when they return. Such is the case of Krakauer after climbing the Devil’s Thumb “it changed almost nothing. But I came to appreciate that mountains make poor receptacles for dreams” (155).
Overall, Nash rightfully portrays the wilderness as a perfect setting for those who seek to escape humanity, judgment, and ignorance, as well as and a canvas on which one can paint their soul and emotions without hesitation. However, the impending threat of loneliness and the inability of the wilderness to assist in solving problems should be recognized in order to avoid misconceptions of reality. The wilderness reaches to the far ends of the Earth, bordering the corners of ever-expanding industrialization. Although it may not hold all of the answers to the world’s problems, it extends open arms to all the world’s hopes and dreams. Taking up the priceless offering of freedom, McCandless, like many others, did away with society and threw themselves into the wild.