In the early 1990’s, Chris McCandless left his whole life behind to carry out a transcendental lifestyle. He hitchhiked up the entire West Coast, all the way to his final destination in Fairbanks, Alaska. Transcendentalism is a philosophy that has had a heavy impact on many people, including Chris McCandless, Henry David Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. These men shared the belief in the importance of individualism, simplicity, and exploration, which molded McCandless’s experience into a dramatic and fatal journey. Arguably the most major principle of transcendentalism, individualism is what drove McCandless to get away from the life he knew. He became exhausted by the constant pressure of matching his parents’ success, and sought to pursue …show more content…
Having dealt with the pressure from his parents from a young age, McCandless grew more and more embarrassed of his family’s wealth and “believed that wealth was shameful, corrupting, inherently evil”(Krakauer 115). He later burned all his money and believed strongly that “it looks poorest when you are richest”(Thoreau 9), meaning large amounts of money leave a person feeling empty, which influenced McCandless to travel very lightly at all times. This proved to be a challenge which McCandless would have to overcome after meeting and developing friendships with so many people. Ron Franz was one man who gave McCandless a particularly difficult time in keeping his baggage light. Franz thought of McCandless as a son, and cared deeply for him, but because McCandless was trying to keep his “affairs...as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand”(Thoreau 3), he kept a distance between himself and Franz, being careful to not become too attached to him. After meeting people all over the coast, he made it to Alaska and “was relieved...that he had again evaded the impending threat of human intimacy, of friendship, and all the messy emotional baggage that comes with it”(Krakauer 55). Although he kept his load light, loneliness turned out to be McCandless’s biggest regret at the end of his life, when he had run out …show more content…
These values were at times harmful to McCandless and the people in his life, but overall, he lived a fulfilling life and was able to make a lasting impact on many people. This journey offered McCandless the ability to meet new people and change their lives, and find new places to change his own life. Although his time in the wild came to an unexpected end, transcendental ideals had a generally positive impact not only on McCandless’s human experience, but those of the people whose lives he
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It seems that McCandless almost draws people in. Whether it’s his intelligence, looks, or actions, people are always drawn to him. Even Westerberg’s mother, who didn't care about meeting McCandless said, “ There was something fascinating about him,” (Krakauer 67). It’s fair to say that McCandless did not try to form relationships, people just find him fascinating. However, these relationships did impact McCandless and his journey.
Transcendentalism is a philosophical and literary movement that emphasizes themes of nature and self-reliance while going against society and materialism. Many transcendentalists including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau are the creators of this movement impacting many others. Chris McCandles, the young and fearless main character, in Jon Jrakauer’s text Into the Wild, follows these transcendental leaders shown in his actions. Chris finds himself exploring throughout North America and reaching his goal to make it to Alaska. Like Thoreau, McCandles loves nature and finds it his “congratulation”, “greets everyday with joy”, and “follows his genius”.
Transcendentalists live their lives with as few materialistic items as possible and block out what society describes as acceptable for what a human should do with their life. Their intuitive knowledge “Transcends” or goes beyond their five senses. Transcendentalists’ dive into art and nature in order to figure out their purpose on Earth. The book, Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, is about a young man named Chris McCandless who is fed up with his rich life style, so he decides to set out on an adventure. When McCandless leaves home, he changes his name, burns all the money he has, and sets out for a new life.
In the 19th and 20th century transcendentalism was a new and exciting topic that caused tremendous controversy. In the novel Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, Chris McCandless was a man with a very unique character. In more detailed words Chris McCandless was a transcendentalist. His actions and moods played a big part in his life, from beginning to end. He was a transcendentalist because of his self-reliance, confidence and non-conformity.
Throughout history there has been a constant, man’s desire to experience new things. Two men that come to mind are Chris McCandless and Henry David Thoreau. Both men shared a similar reason for traveling into the wild. The differences in their journey’s that led to McCandless’s death and Thoreau’s success is the preparation and approach to the journey’s. Even though Chris failed on his journey he still was very much like Thoreau wanting to leave society in search for enlightenment.
In the short story, “Death of an Innocent” by Jon Krakauer, Chris McCandless travels into the Alaskan wilderness with the intention of relying completely on himself. In the true spirit of transcendentalism, McCandless travels to escape the bounds of society and to remove himself from a materialistic world. Many argue, however, that Chris McCandless was not a transcendentalist because he travels to exotic lands as a means of avoidance, but actually, Chris McCandless is the epitome of a transcendentalist. Transcendentalists, however, rely on themselves and nature to survive and do not depend on material items. Transcendentalists romanticize individualism and believe that intuition is the best guide through life.
Transcendentalist writers were focused on the belief of the divinity of the individual soul, the inner voice, (Crawford, Kern & Needleman, 1961) to overcome social stereotypes and to avoid conformity. It is highlighted the importance to return to nature to enhance the quality of humans beings by living simply since being apart of common social rules is the only way to be in communion with nature’s wisdom. Those transcendental characteristics could be seen in Emerson’s ¨self-reliance¨ or Thoreau’s ¨Walden ¨ bearing in mind that although, Emerson’s ¨Self-reliance¨ adheres more descriptive examples to illustrate metaphors and Thoreau’s ¨Where I lived and what I lived for¨ introduces metaphors creating much more imagery, both make a critique of the modern individual using
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.
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”- Henry David Thoreau. Transcendentalism is an American philosophy that revolves around self-reliance and independence, commonly in nature, a Transcendentalist wants to find the true meaning in life. I believe that Chris McCandless was a Transcendentalist because he was able to leave his whole life behind and take on a minimalist lifestyle while having a strong relationship with god. However, I believe that I am not a Transcendentalist, but simply an adventurer.
In addition, in a journal entry, McCandless writes, “It is the experiences, the memories, the great triumphant joy of living to the fullest extent in which real meaning is found. God it’s great to be alive! Thank you. Thank you” (Krakauer 37). This excerpt shows that McCandless sincerely is at peace with himself and the world because of where his ideals have taken him.
The characteristics of transcendentalism is individual vs society and the connection between human and nature. A subject of Into the Wild is individual vs society because Chris McCandless tends to desire to chase freedom and be alone rather than with people. In the last letter ever received from Everett Ruess, to his brother Waldo on November 11th, 1934. He explains that he wants to live in isolation.
Henry David Thoreau is one of the primary promoters of the transcendentalist movement and has been inspiring people to take on the transcendentalist lifestyle ever since the mid 1800’s. Mccandless was an admirer of Henry’s philosophy but he wasn’t as fully immersed in his work and ideals as Thoreau was to his own. His intentions were not as closely aligned to the movement as Thoreau’s and the difference between these icons are clearly visible. Self reliance is one of the most significant components of the transcendentalism movement that Henry David Thoreau contributed to in his literary career. “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” - (taken from Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden”).
Chris McCandless was someone who didn’t believe in having money, and items that were materialistic. He was considered an idealist because he didn’t put judgement on people based on how they look, he did it based on his personal values. In the author’s note Krakauer also believed Chris was a “intense young man and possessed a streak of stubborn idealism that did not mesh readily with modern existence”. After getting your degree in college, and your parents buying you a new car you don’t think to just throw it all away to go live in the wild on your own, but that’s exactly what Chris did. Items that would seem extremely important to everyone one else in society didn’t matter to Chris, because it wasn’t a necessity for him.
When McCandless graduated from college, he found the possibility to go away for a while, “He had fled the claustrophobic confines of his family” (Krakauer 55). McCandless could finally go away looking for a journey full of adventures, but he wasn’t going to five stars hotels or luxurious places. His journey was precarious and wild, that was exactly what he was looking for. Places that were difficult for someone to reach and loneliness was abundant, the only interaction was with nature and savage animals. Happiness engulfed McCandless when backpacking anywhere, it was his joy.
Transcendentalism is the belief that man is inherently good, is an independent thinker, and goes out into nature to get in touch with himself. Generally, man has good intentions and intends no harm unto others. In addition, man does not need society to give him and develop his thoughts, as he already has them within. To help bring out these already installed beliefs, man has the desire to go out into nature to get in touch with himself and find deeper notions within. In Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writings “Self Reliance” and “American Scholar”, he writes about how being a true individual means that one must have his own beliefs, and not copy someone else’s ideas.