In chapters 14 and 15 of Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer becomes more than just an investigator or a narrator, he becomes a character. He tells his story of climbing the Devils Thumb, which exposes the similarities between himself and McCandless. This aids to his understanding of McCandless’s motivations, without ever meeting him, due to the parallels in their personalities and family issues.
The late Helen Keller once said “Life is either a great adventure or nothing,” mirroring Chris McCandless’s view on how he wanted to live his life. At a young age of only 22, Christopher Johnson McCandless hitchhiked to Alaska ditching his well-to-do family, donating $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoning his possessions, burning his money and social security card in hope to discover a new life. Four months later his body was discovered by a moose hunter leaving, his family to wonder about his final days. McCandless’ tragic story became a national sensation when Krakauer released an article in Outside magazine. The article aroused many opinions as to whether or not Chris was to be admired or criticized for his foolishness.. In the story
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.
He wanted to divorce his parents and flee from society. “No longer to be poisoned by civilization he flees and walks alone upon the land to become lost in the wild.” (Chris pg.163). Chris had been gone for two years living off the land and a few bags of rice to get him by. He had all the freedom in the world and then he started to realize that everyone makes mistakes. He was even starting to forgive. “Maybe he was prepared to forgive their imperfections, maybe he was even prepared to forgive some of his own.” (Krakauer pg.168). Chris had found his happiness he lived over one hundred days in the wild. He was ready to go back
It is impossible to go through life without an outlet in which to relieve your mind of worry. For some people it is meditation, for others it is running, there are endless options. For Chris McCandless, it was pushing himself to be the best he could be. McCandless was motivated to trek into the wilderness by his disdain for his parents and his unusually large appetite for adventure, but he was also looking to become a different person while he trekked through the Alaskan wild.
McCandless was inspired to take the risks he took in various journeys because of wanting to go against what his parents wanted him to do and prove that materialistic belongings that society believes we need to survive aren’t needed to live. He was seeking his true self, the true Chris McCandless and show how independent he could be.
“So many people live in unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation” (57). Chris McCandless was determined to not be one of those men, he strived for a life in solitude, away from the demands of society. For that reason he went on an epic transcendental experience that took him from Mexico to Alaska. Along the way, he met and made an impact on peoples’ lives, people like Wayne Westenberg and Ronald Franz. Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild discusses Chris’s journey, and makes the reader question Chris’s reasons for going out into the wild. In the novel, Chris did some dangerous things, such as kayaking across a country and not taking nearly enough supplies, he insisted it was all part of the journey though.
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.
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:
Chris McCandless was determined to create a new life for himself and be the one to control his own destiny. “Chris 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…. His family had no idea where he was or what had become of him until his remains turned up in Alaska”. This quote is from Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild and shows how McCandless left everything from his old life in order to create a new life for himself. Selling everything, burning money, and leaving his whole life to find the inner truth
Considered the “Father of Western Philosophy”, the great Aristotle is quoted as saying “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” This is something that, a young intelligent man in the early 1990’s took to heart, as he set out on a great journey to know himself. Chris McCandless, this young man, however took a different path than most in terms of discovering himself by attempting to abandon society and live off the land in rural Alaska. Chris’s journey throughout his brief adulthood, should be celebrated due to his pursuit of self discovery, and finding the source of true happiness. However we must acknowledge his decision to go into the unforgiving wilderness ill-prepared and the way he rejected true companionship in his travels pre-Alaskan adventure should not be ignored.
In the 2013 online article, “The Chris McCandless Obsession Problem”, author Diana Saverin describes the Alaskan wilderness travel phenomenon along with attempting to uncover the ‘McCandless Pilgrims’ “root of motivation. Sparked by the release of both Jon Krakauer’s and Sean Penn’s “Into the Wild”, numerous individuals pack their backpacks and eagerly step into their (sometimes newly-bought) hiking shoes and tramp into the Alaskan Wild to pay homage to their hero Chris McCandless. Filled with personal anecdotes and interviews, Severin’s Outside article takes a new approach Into the Wild commentary by directing attention to the lives McCandless’s story affected indirectly rather than critiquing on McCandless himself. In response to what appears to be a huge amount of troubled McCandless-inspired tramping stories, Saverin provides an unbiased rationale as a attempt to explain why so many are “willing to risk injury, and even death, to..visit the last home of Alaska’s most famous adventure casualty”.
In the book “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer, Chris McCandless had many decisions to leave his old life behind and start over. Chris’ decision to leave was justified for the following reasons. When he suddenly disappeared, it made it easier for him to let go of his past and focus on what he wants to do in the future. McCandless could make all his own decisions, nobody had a chance to tell him that he could not leave and certainly did not allow anyone to find out where he was going. Finally he didn’t agree to social norms. Although some might argue that McCandless should have notified his parents that he was going to take this trip, however, if he would’ve told his family they would have gone out of their way to bring him back home. Furthermore Mccandless did tell his parents that he was going on this trip and didn’t find the need to tell them where he was going minute by minute. He was an adult and understood what the consequences were.
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.
When people isolate themselves from society they develop similar characteristics. In Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, Christopher McCandless, the main character graduates as a top student and makes the choice to give away all his money to charity as well as leaving behind his belongings instead of pursuing a career. He then travels out to Alaska, journaling his experience in the wildness and changes his name to Alex. In the movie Grizzly Man, Werner Herzog uses footage shot by Timothy himself to document what inspired him to live with the wild bears in Alaska. One of the bears Treadwell takes care of tragically kills him; his footage gives a stronger look at nature and its harsh realities. Chris and Timothy 's independence shows the development of alienation; they isolate themselves and find their purpose in life away from society by documenting their journey. The writer of Into the Wild and the director of Grizzly Man apply similar characterization to Chris and Timothy 's story to show alienation from society.