Into The Wild - Aubrey Timmons          

Into The Wild Essay

Aubrey Timmons
26 September, 2014
The Last Frontier
Historically, many people immigrate in search of a refuge from their problems, both perceived and actual. Chris McCandless, the protagonist in Into the Wild, a non-fiction novel written by John Krakauer, is a youth attracted to the barren wilderness of Alaska, like many before him, due to the sense that he is fed up with conventionality. It takes a specific breed of humans to survive the constant light of summer, constant dark of winter and frigid temperatures that stretch across the vast wilderness of Alaska, yet to many the harsh beauty serves as a shelter from the burden modern-day society and materialism carry. To Chris McCandless, Alaska does not just represent a stretch of land, it represents participating in something bigger than one’s self in which he can forgot about personal and worldly issues and focus on coexisting independently with nature.

Alaska represents the relinquishment of the hypocrisy and betrayal in Chris’s life. Chris views Alaska as a place where the mendacity of his father’s lies can go to rest. Sharing personal similarities to Chris McCandless, John Krakauer explains, “Children can be harsh judges when it comes to their parents, declined to grant clemency, and this was especially true in Chris’s case” (122). The resentment of authority Chris feels for his father further leads to his alienation of society, as well as further pushing him “into the wild”. In Alaska, Chris can cease to focus on the emotional scarring that has thus fore led him into personal disapproval, and move on to grow as an individual. Chris dislikes human intimacy because he views it as unnecessary baggage. An example is when Chris refutes Ronald Franz’s offer to continue the Franz bloodline, becoming “uncomfortable” and “dodging the question” (54). Chris views Franz’s offer as a distraction from his overall goal of living free from the idiosyncrasies of society. Chris has a pessimistic view of human nature, in the sense that he automatically assumes the worst possible situation. As a result of the betrayals in his life, Chris fails to mesh with society: “It is true that many creative people fail to make mature personal relationships, and some are extremely isolated. It is also true that, in some instances, trauma, in the shape of early separation or bereavement, has steered the potentially creative towards developing aspects of his personality which can find fulfillment in comparative solation”(61). The trauma of having a secret brother leads to Chris’s desire for isolation. Without the betrayal of his father, and the betrayal of modern-day society, Chris’s key motive for venturing into the vast Alaskan tundra would have ceased to exist: the ideal that nature is the only pure thing remaining in this world.

Chris views Alaska as an escape from the materialistic world we live in. It was said that, “Wilderness appealed to those bored or disquieted with man and his works. It not only offers an escape from society, but also was an ideal stage for the romantic individual to exercise the cult that he frequently made of his own soul. The solitude and total freedom of the wilderness created a perfect setting for either melancholy or exultation” (155). Chris views Alaska as a place in which he can escape from his problems and live independently in a minimalistic way without the constant pressures of modern-day society. He views the Alaskan terrain as his final test in order to achieve the true title of a minimalist. His attitude toward the world is a major factor in his belief and discontent with the confinements of society’s ideals. Once again, John Krakauer compares himself to Chris saying, “And then I climbed into my car and departed for Alaska. I was surprised, as always, by how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility” (136). When Chris leaves Atlanta he expresses his relief in result of being freed from the entanglement of materialistic standards society holds today. Chris is not interested in how many shoes he has, or if he owns the latest technology: he simply wishes to live in the moment, without the distractions of money, cars, or even his family. Chris McCandless is instinctively drawn into the natural beauty of the Alaskan terrain in which he can finally prove his minimalistic outlook on life.

Chris McCandless sees Alaska as a way to achieve total independence from the world with an exception to the religious aspect of nature. Chris solidifies this idea when he writes in his diary, “The climactic battle to kill the false being within and victoriously conclude the spiritual resolution” (163).Chris thinks of Alaska as a place where his slate can be wiped clean, without the constant threat from the outside world, in which he can rely only on nature. Another example of Chris’s strive for independence is when he journals “No longer to be poisoned by civilization he flees, and walks alone upon the land to become Lost in the Wild” (163). Chris feels as if he has officially fulfilled his goal as he worships the indigenous surroundings around him. He has achieved total separation from the corruption that fills society, and instead is enthralled in a setting that “concludes the spiritual resolution”(163) he desperately searches for his entire adult life. John Krakauer draws another similarity between himself and Chris McCandless, saying “I was a raw youth who mistook passion for insight and acted according to an obscure, gap-ridden logic. I thought climbing the Devil’s thumb would fix all that was wrong with my life” (155). Chris views Alaska as a religious epicenter in which he can instinctively immerse himself into nature forgetting about the problems in his life. However, hiking into the Alaskan wilderness does not solve the problems you face on a daily basis- it merely postpones them until you submerge back into reality. Although, in Chris’s case he successfully achieves religious triumph as he leads his last few months of his life in the wilderness, even on his death bed exclaiming, “I HAVE HAD A HAPPY LIFE AND THANK THE LORD. GOODBYE AND MAY GOD BLESS ALL” (199). Chris achieves his goal to of becoming obsolete with the outside world as he peacefully slips into an unconscious state.

To Chris McCandless, Alaska represents a place in which he can completely immerse himself into nature, forgetting about the personal and worldly issues that clouded his mind on a daily basis, and instead focus on living within something that cannot be controlled by one individual. Chris McCandless, like many other adventurers, is attracted to such a tranquil place unaffected by the chaos of modern-day society. Similar to the Puritans in seventeenth century England, Chris longed for an escape from the traps and tyranny of society and a place in which he could practice his religion of choice freely: nature. Although it leads to his untimely demise, Alaska is Chris’s relinquishment intellectually and the evidence concluding his overall achievement of complete and minimalistic independence from the outside world.


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