Into The Wild Transcendentalism

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“We need the tonic of wildness...At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because it is unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature” -Henry David Thoreau, Walden. In Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, a biographical account of Chris McCandless’s life, after graduating from college, 22-year-old McCandless decides to cut all ties from his family and hitchhike across America and live as simply as possible. At the age of 24, he dies on the Stampede Trail in Alaska while trying to live in the wilderness and survive on his own. His journey was inspired by many authors, such as Jack London, …show more content…

After graduating college, McCandless leaves his family and he sets off from Atlanta to the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, located in the Detrital Wash in Arizona. He stays there for a couple of days, leaving because he believes a flood has ruined his car, which is unable to start. When McCandless is still at the Detrital Wash after the flood has occurred, he, “arranged all his paper currency in a pile on the sand...and put a match to it” (29). McCandless’s approach to life is very much of the one in which he rejects excess material possessions and money. The symbolism of sending up his money into smoke shows how dedicated McCandless is to Thoreau’s ideal of living free from the pull of society. He decides to live simply, like Thoreau, not only retreating into nature, but he also living a purer, simpler life. Without money and material goods, he is truly espousing Thoreau’s views, as he decides to not be beholden to anything. McCandless cuts ties with anything reminiscent to society, clearly viewing it unnecessary to live according to societal norms, as he believes - like Thoreau - that this makes the individual lose sight of what life is supposed to be like. Without any money, McCandless finally feels free. To focus on possessions is wrong, according to McCandless’s borrowed views on life. To live a life with true meaning, he must dispose of anything tainted by …show more content…

He off-roads his car while at the Detrital Wash, even though there are signs that say that off-roading is forbidden where he is. Krakauer says of McCandless after this occurs that, “as a latter-day adherent of Henry David Thoreau, [he] took as gospel the essay ‘On Duty of Civil Disobedience’ and thus considered it his moral responsibility to flout the laws of the state” (28). Like Thoreau, McCandless, too, thinks that government as a whole is something that truly binds and oppresses, and is a wholly unnecessary system. Government prevents Thoreau and McCandless from living the right life that is meant for everyone, so its rules must be broken. When they both decide to go against the government, it is solely because both think that government prevents the Transcendentalist lifestyle. This lifestyle, means that one is exempt from taxes or any other enforced laws and regulations, as a Transcendentalist disagrees with the very core of the state. So, under the guise of moral responsibility, civil disobedience is a way to act for their own personal gain. McCandless has a distaste for government, having strong views on various politicians, many of which he dislikes. His political leanings are reminiscent of Thoreau’s essay ‘On Duty of Civil Disobedience’, and can be summed up with, “ ‘I heartily accept the motto - ‘That

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