Into the Wild is a story about a passionate, very gifted athlete, and scholar named Chris
Romanticism was a movement during the late 18th century that encouraged imagination, exploration, individualism, and emotion. From it derived Transcendentalism, one of the first movements to originate from America and which bore the first American philosophers. These movements are often present in many pieces of American literature and this is no exception in Jon Krakauer’s novel Into the Wild. The historic account retells the story of a young man named Chris McCandless, who adopts the pseudonym Alexander Supertramp and takes to the road, only to die of starvation in Alaska. On the surface it appears to be cautionary tale, but Krakauer literally retraces McCandless’ steps, talking to the people who Chris spoke with and even traveling to Chris’ final resting place.
Into the Wild tells the story of Chris McCandless, a young man who embarked on an adventure across the U.S. Chris lived for adventure, and sadly met his demise in the Alaskan wilderness. Chris’ death brought about a large debate as to whether Chris was insane or simply idealistic. Krakauer wrote Into the Wild to prove Chris’ sanity and soundly completes that task by using rhetorical devices to persuade his audience.
Most people go into the wilderness to go camping for a week or less than a week, then leave. Some stay for more than a week. Chris McCandless was in the wild for at least one hundred days.“ I’ve decided to live this life for some time to come. The freedom and the beauty of it is too good to pass up.”(pg.92) He went into the wilderness to experience adventure and to find things he was searching for; nature, the path to happiness and freedom. Chris’ determination, self will, pursuit of happiness and the urge to break free are all explored. He did everything he could, so people wouldn’t be able to find him. Changing his name to Alex Supertramp, eliminating everything he had, and only taking things that he needs. Jon Krakauer's “Into the Wild” is an excellent book about how McCandless traveled to Alaska, and how he conquered his dreams. Krakauer also put some of McCandless’ journals and letters in the book. According to Shaun Callarmans analysis Chris McCandless had no business going to Alaska. Callarman thinks Chris McCandless is just plain crazy. Callarman doesn't admire his courage or noble ideas. Even though Shaun Callarman thinks Chris McCandless was bright and ignorant, also made mistakes because of his arrogance, I disagree with Callarmans analysis
In August 1992, a decomposed body, presumably died of starvation, was found inside an abandoned bus beside the Sushana River in Alaska. Shortly thereafter, the dead person was identified as twenty-four-year-old Chris McCandless, who was from an affluent family in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. A tragic story, with a mix of a young man, his well-off background, and happening in the most precarious but highly noble place, always had an emotional pull on people’s minds and stirred up people’s curiosity and perplexity. The question, often asked by the people with desire to grasp the truths, was why Chris with a privileged life would have gone to Alaska’s wilderness to face the ultimate challenge of his life. Was he in search of something
“I don’t want to know what time it is. I don’t want to know what day it is or where I am. None of that matters” (Krakauer 7). In Krakauer’s novel, Into the Wild, one of the key themes is the fact that the main character, Chris McCandless, values his principles more than his own family, possessions, or the people he cares about. He shows this in many ways throughout the novel and Krakauer hints on every single one. Several people McCandless met on his trek admired his principles and it led them to admire him. He is very anti-materialistic and shows this quality by giving the rest of his college fund to a charity fighting for world hunger. In Solitude, Thoreau writes about how society is insignificant and chooses to exchange it for a society of nature. This can be related to McCandless because Thoreau is valuing his principles over people because he believes society is insignificant, just like McCandless. In Werner Herzog’s film Grizzly Man, a man named Timothy Treadwell ventures off into the wild to provoke grizzly bears. Timothy Treadwell can be seen as someone who values his principles over people in a way that he leaves everyone behind and risks his life for his own good. He chooses to be potentially killed by grizzly bears, more than his own life. The reader
Both Chris McCandless and Ralph Waldo Emerson are against modern society’s way of living and believe one should live their life in a non-conformist lifestyle driven by the awe of nature. Emerson wrote an essay called “Nature”. There he talked about the relationship one should have to God through nature, and was a popular role model of the transcendentalist movement. Emerson was anti-governmental, believing one cannot own nature or the land. He also writes about how he feels welcomed in nature, more so than he does in a village or society, favoring the natural land over the land humans created. He urged adults to see the world through the way a child would adore it, in a purer loving way. This goes against many Americans’ viewpoints on life, then and even now. He also mentions that he believes nature is a kind force to everyone, and is never cruel. On the other hand, Chris McCandless’s life is documented by the book Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer. Within the book, Chris’s past is documented by his inability to conform. He was expected to go to college, but after his experience freshman year summer travel, he
Jon Krakauer has a high amount of respect for Christopher J. McCandless; not only because they have many similarities, but because McCandless searched deep for the meaning of life and did as he pleased. In the book, “Into The Wild,” Krakauer not only tells the story of McCandless, but also of his own life, and how he has been shaped into his own.
There are many instances where Krakauer reveals Chris as such. Chris may have been innocent in his ideals but that was his mistake, “For most of the sixteen-week ordeal…McCandless more than held his own. Indeed, were it out not for one or two seemingly insignificant blunders, he would have
Chris McCandless was a reckless idiot and there is no denying that basic truth. Chris McCandless was a man born into a middle class family. Chris had parents that loved him, a roof over his head, and food to eat. Despite all those riches he had, he threw them away. Chris was a very selfish man. Chris went off after he graduated college and “lived off the land”. Chris would travel to the coast of Mexico, the plains of Kansas, and the dunes of Nevada. Chris went on a final expedition to Alaska that cost him everything. In the following paragraphs I will fully detail how Chris was reckless, selfish, and naive. I will also explore how Chris tied his life to the beliefs of transcendentalism. One thing to not forget:
In the words of John Krakauer “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 conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future.” If asked to describe Chris Mcandless in Into The Wild one could say that he is simply foolish. Chris could have lived a longer life if he would have stayed in the comfort of his own hometown. Chris’ common sense was obliterated by his time in the wilderness. Not only did he throw common sense to the wind, he also went into the wild leaving behind many people who loved and cared deeply about him. Chris Mcandless was a heedless fool.
Chris McCandless had greatly admired Jack London, going as far as carving “Jack London is King” at what came to be the site of his death. The Jack London quote used in the epigraph describes a scene in the forest but uses bitter imagery- yet somehow still romanticises it. “Alex” was unable to ever see past the facade London had built- given that London had hardly ever spent time in the wild himself and most definitely nowhere near as intense as Alaska. This chapter had described how he had been found and this quote leads back to that because though Chris was intelligent, he did not understand that London had to make nature sound beautiful. Nature ended up getting the last laugh against McCandless and it cost him his
In the beginning, McCandless starts his adventure by cutting himself off from all the human connections he had. He severs all ties from his family, including his sister which whom he was previously very close to. He burns his social security card, changes his name, and decides to travel across the country. Throughout his journey, Christopher often accounts for his parent’s wrongdoings for the reasons why he wanted to run away to Alaska. He subsists with a minimalist lifestyle and is disappointed in his parents’ behaviors and their materialism. In a letter penned to Wayne Westerberg, McCandless writes, “My days were more exciting when I was penniless” (Krakauer 33). He gets a thrill out of not knowing what will come his way each day. Being “penniless” furthers the sense of uncertainty. He even argues that, “Nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future” (Krakauer 40). In a way, everyday is a new adventure for Chris. This is why not only did he
Chris McCandless abandoned the modern world and chose the wild because he believed that he could improve himself through living in the wild, and found the true happiness of the life. McCandless abandoned his wealthy family because of his complicated relationship with his father, and he was ashamed with his father’s adultery. Therefore, McCandless believed that human relationship was not the only thing that forms happiness, instead a man’s connection with the nature brings joy as well. He also believed the habitual lifestyle was not what people were meant to do, and people shouldn't have more possessions than what they need. For this reason, McCandless traveled with little effects. In addition, McCandless thought he could found the solution to his frustration with the adultery of his father, and found the true happiness for his life through escaping into the wild.
What really drove Chris McCandless into the wild? I believe the top three of the countless reasons that drove McCandless into the wild was the emotional damage from his parents, rebellion of the youth & risk taking tendencies, and his hubris and detestation against authority and/or someone telling him what to do. Some may believe that Chris McCandless went into the wild because of his literary heroes Leo Tolstoy, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau , and Jack London but the real reason he left everything was because of those reasons. In this essay I will elaborate on why I believe those are the reasons that drove McCandless into the wild.