Into The Wild - Allyson Jarvis          

Into The Wild Essay

The life of Alexander Supertramp
Allyson Jarvis
Bethel Park High School

This paper follows Into the Wild’s main character, Chris McCandless along his path of happiness. It explores the feats he overcame as well as the many triumphs he embraced. Chris’ determination, self-will, urge to break free, and pursuit of happiness are all explored. They are determined as his motivation to leave home. After considering the many misfortunes and achievements along his way, his trip is proven to be a success. He conquered his dreams, and after many feats managed to engulf himself in total happiness during his final moments on Earth.

The life of Alexander Supertramp

In an attempt to escape the discomfort caused by society and his family, Christopher McCandless sets off on a two year trek across the country and towards his final destination: Alaska. In the film Into the Wild, the main character flees the confines of society and his family in an endeavor to rehabilitate his spiritual and mental well-being and finally find true happiness within. His departure never involved a goodbye to his family, thus causing many people to deem it selfish, immature, and nearly punishing. At the end of the film Chris dies without ever having the chance to tell his family of the self-discoveries he made, the adventures he took, and the new outlook he encompassed. Some would say his death was a waste, and that it could have been avoided. On the contrary, Chris’ journey was nothing if not successful. He achieved everything he set out to achieve; he gained total independence by breaking free from the reigns of society as well as his unhealthy family, he determined what would make him happy and blissfully set out to find it, and although his death was premature and tragic he died in peace with a complete understanding of his own happiness.

After graduating college, Christopher determined he would discard the traditional life style. He decided to flee and go as far away from everything as possible. After losing his car in a flood, and burning the last of his money, Christopher completely reinvented himself by deeming his new name “Alexander Supertramp”, leaving Christopher McCandless left as nothing more than a figment of his own imagination. Along his way he met people doing almost the same thing, living similar life styles. His own interactions made it harder for him to continue on his own journey because he met people like Jan and Rainy; an equally wanderlust couple who filled the void of his parents until he felt he was getting too attached, and suddenly fled. They shared stories of their travels, as well as their own struggles. Alex satisfied Jan’s desire to nurture somebody while also gaining the unconditional love of a mother. Along his path to happiness he also runs into Ron Franz, an older retired veteran who shares a sense of vulnerability with him. They share such a strong connection with each other that Franz even asks to adopt Alex as his grandchild with hopes of carrying on his name. Regardless of his crucial encounters, Alex continues on to Alaska solo. Although his encounters were meaningful and had an impact on him, he refused to let them sway his sights. His determination did not allow for him to be distracted by the possible companionship he could have gained, but that is not to say it was insignificant.

Before leaving his home Alex had a clear understanding of how he would find happiness. He determined that he could not find it there, especially under the conditions he was under. He set off, and lived off the “fat of the land” by any means necessary. He vitalized every resource given to us on this earth. He accepted help from others when offered, but never asked. He became completely independent and learned to rely only on himself. His stubbornness and need to break free is what eventually lead to his demise, but that was not before he successfully did exactly what he wanted; break free from everything people typically depend on such as money, materialistic things, and relying on others.

After making it to Alaska and discovering an abandoned bus renamed “The Magic Bus”, Alex shortly began running out of supplies. Nearly starving he desperately began eating plants, one of which he consumed was poisonous and would ultimately kill him. It is easy to say that he was miserable in his final moments of life because he was suffering, and had nothing left but the haunting realization that he had done this to himself He chose his own destiny, none of which involved his family. Looking at his actions, it is easy to claim he never loved them, that what he did was spiteful and heartless, but in reality a majority of his trip was a despereate attempt to show his parents the reality of what they had done.. Lying in his sleeping bag waiting to go he had a moment of realization, followed by a moment of clarity. The image of his parents flooded his mind and he remembered that he did not get to go home and tell of all he had experienced and learned, he would never be able to give them the closure they needed, or even kiss them goodbye. While the vision of his parents permeates his mind the bright light in front of him grew brighter as death gripped him tighter.

People think Alexander Supertramp died pitifully; after all he had died alone on a bus in Alaska after accidently killing himself, and running away. They say the entire trip was a waste because he died after resolving nothing. But he did not go pitifully. He died in his parents arms, engulfed in love, at a place where love ceased to exist most of the time. In his final moments his pale, thin face stared lifelessly into the sunlight overhead. It is in that moment that the quote “When you forgive, you love. And when you love, God's light shines on you (Penn, 2007)”, stated by his good friend Ron, is made sense of. In his final moments he did not have regret or remorse, he had love and true happiness, which is all he ever wanted.

It is easy to want to be sad for Christopher McCandless following his death, even angry. It is much harder to see the bigger picture. Death is always sad, and yes, his was avoidable. No traditional, accountant family man ever dies of eating a poisonous root. Had he gon on to live a normal everyday life he never would have been the person he was. He never would have discovered himself in the light he did. However, in a sense his death, and moments leading up to validated his entire Alaskan venture. He perused his own happiness for two years, experiencing only glimpses of it along the way, but never truly discovered it moments before his death. Who is to say he ever would have found it if he never ate that root, or left home? His actions were selfish but he never did that for his family or anyone else for that matter. He did it for him. That being said he did everything he set out to, he abandoned everyday life and created a new normal for himself, he persevered and tried to create his own happiness, and finally discovered it just in time.

Into the Wild
Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, Jena Malone, Brian H. Dierker, Catherine Keener, Vince Vaughn, Kristen Stewart, Hal Holbrook Paramount Vantage, 2007, DVD


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