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Existentialism In Into The Wild

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Does a correlation exist between what is considered to be meaningless versus what is considered to be meaningful? The association between them comes from the concept existentialism. Existentialism is a psychological lens in which everything is inherently meaningless until someone assigns meaning to it. In On Being Zac Morris, Chuck Klosterman writes about what the popular TV show, Saved by the Bell, means to him, by revisiting past memories in his life that prove to be existential. In Selections from Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer writes about the story of Chris McCandless, as he retraces the steps of McCandless’ journey with his friends, which demonstrates the existential aspects of McCandless’ journey. Although Klosterman focuses on his…show more content…
In his work, Krakauer talks about the value of McCandless’ journey. Krakauer describes the nature of McCandless’ journey, claiming that “Unlike Muir and Thoreau, McCandless went into the wilderness not primarily to ponder nature or the world at large, but, rather, to explore the inner country of his own soul” (220). That is existential because McCandless is assigning a particular meaning for his trip to Alaska. McCandless is not traveling to Alaska for fun, he has a purpose to find his “soul” within the wilderness. Later on in his work, Krakauer explains how McCandless views happiness when he says, “I have lived through much, and now I think I have found what is needed for happiness. A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good... – such is my idea of happiness” (211). That is existential because Krakauer is explaining McCandless’ meaning of happiness. To McCandless happiness entails seclusion in the country, whereas for someone else, happiness could be being married with kids, living in a large home with a white picket fence. Another example of existentialism in Krakauer’s work is McCandless’ discovery of the dilapidated bus. When McCandless finds the bus, he assigns it special meaning when he writes in his journal “Bus Day” (Krakauer 207). The bus is valuable to McCandless because he uses it as a place of shelter on his trip. To others, who may just be hiking the trail for the day, the bus may be viewed as old, run-down, and worthless. To McCandless, it is his place of shelter, which keeps him alive much longer than if he did not find the
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