Into The Wild - Brian Helms          

Into The Wild Essay

Brian Helms
8/23/2014
Honors World Literature IV
Summer Essay “Into the Wild”

Christopher McCandless was a person that I was never able to connect with since the story wasn’t told by him. I feel Jon Krakauer did a great job at not making a fake character out of McCandless. He followed his journal entries and stories told of him. He left him open for interpretation from the reader. Because of this unrelatable character, the reader can create opinions of McCandless the author doesn’t make. Because of this, critics are formed and exist on all different levels. A lot of people resect Christopher and his journey for self-realization. They believe he wanted to be free and away from the problems of the real world. Other critics think he was an unprepared, clueless, child that was setting himself up for death by throwing himself into the Alaskan wilderness. I have saved myself from opinions in order to see the critiques of others from an unbiased position.

Beginning with the positive critics, Jessica Robins wrote an essay where she took the opinion that, McCandless “wanted to find himself, who he really was deep down.” McCandless went into the wilderness where he didn’t harm others because he wanted to be by himself. Yes, his family suffered by his loss but the negative critics weren’t personally effected in any way by what McCandless did. He also may have hurt people along the way that he made connections with but he tried his hardest to not stay in one place for too long and to not create relationships with these people. He simply wanted to find himself in the nature. He was at peace there and he didn’t have to worry about the changing society that he felt he didn’t fit in with. From his journal entries, we see that McCandless meant no harm to people and only wanted to be by himself. He didn’t want relationships because he wanted to build a connection with himself. Many critics think that this isn’t selfish. It is just his desire and the way he wanted to live his own life.

Along with the positive critics, there come negative ones too. Some negative critics think that McCandless was an unprepared, immature child who had no idea what he was doing by throwing himself into the wilderness of Alaska. Some of them were very harsh and passionate. Sure, McCandless went into the wilderness with not enough food, no axe, and no maps of the area. These things were easily the difference between life and death for him. But he wasn’t unintelligent. He studied the plants to see which ones were edible and which were poisonous. He just chose not to bring so many things with him because he was trying to depend on himself. There were things that McCandless did to hurt people, although he didn’t mean to. He left his parents and sisters without talking to them or letting him know his whereabouts. This is considered quite selfish by a lot of the critics. McCandless also managed to hurt people that he met along his journey. Although he never stayed for long, because he didn’t want to start relationships, he managed to leave these people loving him and his personality. They were hurt not only when he left but when he died. As Rebecca LeMarche said in her essay, “Chris was strongly opposed to any kind of unnecessary material possession.” It was his choice to not bring these things.

Dave Korn brings to light that the negative critics don’t mean to really be upset at McCandless for being reckless, “but what really upsets us is the fact that he didn’t make it.” From the beginning of the story, we know that McCandless dies in the end. The beginning of the book is about the end of his journey. People were upset to find this out and were angry throughout the reading of the book. There are different critics that look at the story of Chris McCandless from opposite spectrums. I think that the positive critics truly see that the side of McCandless that died for what he loved while the others wished that he just lived in the end.


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