Into The Wild - Ashley Bouck        

Into The Wild Essay

Ashley Bouck
Chris McCandless: Breaking Boundaries

Chris McCandless was a lot of things, but he was not ignorant. At times he could have asked for help or been more knowledgeable, but ultimately he wanted to learn for himself. He was a reliable guy who knew all the risks, but took them anyway because he wanted to follow his dreams. I believe he is admirable and we could all learn from him.

John Krakauer brings up a claim by some readers, “…others fulminated that he was a reckless idiot, a wacko, a narcissist who perished out of arrogance and stupidity…” The argument that he was reckless or arrogant is not completely valid. Chris McCandless knew the risks he was taking. He mentions them in his final letter to his friend Wayne Westerberg, “Please return all mail I receive to the sender. It might be a very long time before I return south. If this adventure proves fatal and you don’t ever hear from me again, I want you to know you’re a great man. I now walk into the wild.” (Krakauer, Into the Wild) Some will argue that this is letter proves his Alaskan voyage was suicide, but it really shows he was not as arrogant or ignorant as people think. Chris knew what he was getting into when he went to Alaska, he still went anyway, and for that I believe he is both admirable and brave.

Many Americans work day in and day out to make money so that they can enjoy life. Do not get me wrong—there is nothing wrong with wanting to live well—but people tend to forget the important things in life. Money cannot buy happiness. It can buy someone a nice house or a nice car, but it cannot buy adventures or memories. Chris hated how materialistic people were. I find it to be admirable that he could get rid of all their belongings, burn their money, and live off a bag of rice for months at a time. It is not often you find someone like that.

In today’s American society, we have our life drawn out for us from birth: school, more school, career, family, and retirement. Any one that strays off this path set for us is looked at as “a wacko” or a “reckless idiot”. Why is that though? American society tries fitting us in a box from day one. Chris did not want that to be his legacy. He could have made better decisions, but he shows a change in the normal society that we rarely see. People, especially Americans, are afraid to teeter off. In Chapter 9, a man named Ken Sleight, someone who researches Everett Ruess’ death, states of Ruess and McCandless, “Kind of different. But him and McCandless, at least tried to follow their dream. That’s what was great about them. They tried. Not many do.” (Krakauer, Into the Wild) He was breaking an American stereotype, and for that he is admirable.

All in all, Chris McCandless is someone who people should look up to. He did things not many people can say they did, or had the guts to do. Chris was a very intelligent man, who excelled in school and knew the risks that were at hand in Alaska. He took his chances anyway because he wanted to get away from the materialistic America and follow his own journey. His courage is very admirable.

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