Into The Wild - Anna Farrell        

Into The Wild Essay

Anna Farrell
Mr. Lucas
English 11
December 22, 2015

The Fulfilled Life of Chris McCandless

Through the words of author Jon Krakauer comes a true story about a college graduate who decides that the violence and anger of society was too much to handle, so he partakes a journey throughout nature to live life as it’s supposed to be lived. The novel, Into the Wild, shadows Chris McCandless as he embarks on his experiences throughout Alaska. McCandless did not waste his life because he influenced people, strived for self-actualization, and wanted to prove that he can make it on his own.

McCandless’ influence on the people he met proved he lived a fulfilling life. Along his journey, McCandless met several generous people who decided to help him, including eighty year old Ron Franz. Franz and McCandless’s encounter occurred when McCandless was hiking back down the mountain and Franz decided to stop and give him a ride. After driving a while with McCandless, Franz struck an interest towards the young man and became extremely fond of him. The next weeks they spent together changed Franz in a remarkable way. Since his wife and child’s death, Franz was a lonely person whose paternal instincts were absent. After meeting McCandless, he felt that paternal instinct again and decided that his relationship with McCandless was too significant to give up. Franz told Krakauer that, “Now that my own boy’s dead, I’m the end of the line. When I’m gone, my family will be finished, gone forever. So I asked Alex if I could adopt him, if he would be my grandson” (Krakauer 55). McCandless, who did not like attachment, rejected the idea, leaving Franz incredibly saddened. Knowing that Franz was getting too attached, McCandless abruptly left, which saddened Franz even further. McCandless and Franz never saw each other again but communicated through several letters. In the last letter Franz received, McCandless told Franz to, “get out of Salton City, put a little camper on the back of your pickup, and start seeing some of the great work that God has done here in the American West… And you must do it economy style, no motels do your own cooking, as a general rule spend as little as possible and you will enjoy it more immensely” (Krakauer 58). Franz followed McCandless’ suggestion and left Salton City to start seeing the aesthetic of nature that McCandless had described. When Franz chose to leave Salton City and ask for approval to adopt McCandless, he was influenced by the peculiar qualities McCandless had presented to him. Although his idea to adopt McCandless was rejected, he later still followed McCandless’ word in packing up the life he led for eighty years and left his solitude. McCandless’ influence on Franz proved that he was a significant person who had a powerful impact on the people he met along his journey.

McCandless’s drive to reach his self-actualization is a reason why he did not waste his life. McCandless, like others, was a very autonomic person who didn’t to conform to society's laws and ways of living. In his mind, if a person lived by society’s rules, that person’s life would be wasted. A professor at the Alaska Pacific University stated that, “Sure, he screwed up,” Roman answers, “but I admire what he was trying to do.
Living completely off the land like that, month after month, is incredibly difficult. I’ve never done it. And I’d bet you that very few, if any, of the people who call McCandless incompetent have never done it either, not for more than a week or two. Living in the interior bush for an extended period, subsisting on nothing except what you hunt and gather- most people have no idea how hard that actually is. And McCandless almost pulled it off” (Krakauer 185).

Critics often comment that going into the wild was a death wish for McCandless. Yet, going into the wild for McCandless meant finding gratification for himself. His gratification was finding out who he was as a person with no influence of civilization and society. The bravery and courage that he put forth on his journey says alot about what McCandless did. He cut off his connections to society and the societal norms of living in the hopes of discovering the purpose behind his life. Of course McCandless didn’t have a death wish, but in a way, cutting off society’s principles and following his dreams proved that he lived a fulfilling life in his own way.

McCandless’ dreams of making it in the wild was another reason as to why he lived a fulfilling life. His vision of living in solitude and seeing the world influenced his decision to start his journey. Not only did he want to live in solitude, he wanted to prove to others and especially himself, that he could make it by himself. The importance of proving that to himself was a key reason for abandoning society. Although in ways he was inexperienced, he was an extremely knowledgeable human being. Along with his previous knowledge, McCandless researched edible plants and animals he would be able to hunt in the area he was traveling through. The strength of his conviction of the way he lived changed the entire course of his life. Gaylord Stuckey shared that, “He said it was something he'd wanted to do since he was little. Said he didn’t want to see a single person, no airplanes, no sign of civilization. He wanted to prove to himself that he could make it on his own, without anybody else’s help” (Krakauer 159). McCandless pursued his vision and made it on his own, even though it proved to be fatal. Chasing after his dreams until the very end showed his commitment and determination to living a minimalistic life. Throughout his journey, McCandless achieved everything he set out to achieve; breaking off his connections from society and unhealthy family life, he found out what made him happy and was determined to continue that state of euphoria. Although death in McCandless’ case was avoidable, his new found form of life led McCandless to completely understand his happiness in a way that made his life fulfilling.

To Chris McCandless, Alaska was a place where he could forget about the tyranny within society and the personal issues that took place of the world that is not controlled. His point of view on life impacted his decision to reinvent his life in a way that would make him euphoric. Without those decisions, he would just be a young educated man who is discontented with society. The way McCandless impacted people’s life, strived to find out who he was as a person, and wanted to prove to others and especially himself, that he could make it in a minimalistic world proved that he lived his life to its highest potential.


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