Into The Wild - Danica Daher

Into The Wild Essay

Danica Daher
Mr. Epifanio
Honors World Literature 4
Chris McCandless: Desires, Disdain, and Our Opinions

Christopher McCandless was a normal person, despite what many might think of him. But then again, normal is relative, and I might be a lot more forgiving when it comes to “normal.” I myself am strange, and yet I consider that a normal thing. Chris is exactly who we think he is, for no reason other than that we are the ones who think these things. But just because you think something about a person, that doesn’t mean you know that person. Some people have desires to be like Chris, and others disdain him for what he has done, and if we were able to remove our opinions of Chris from our thoughts, then we still would not have captured Chris, because one person simply cannot become another. But today, I will allow you into my own thoughts on a man I have met only in the world of words on a page.

The person who has the ability to most accurately speak for Chris would probably be Carine, since she is his sister and knew him better than many. In her essay, she states “I feel a responsibility to be his voice now that he is no longer here to speak for himself,” (Carine McCandless). She can speak best on his behalf because of her shared history with Chris. She grew up in the same household, and she grew up in the same situations. Chris believed in the truth, absolute and flawless, and she exposed this truth about Chris’s childhood, as well as her own view of things. Their parents desire a history of lies that hide their painful past, but as Dave Korn mentions in his essay, mistakes make people relatable. In Chris’s family alone, we see the difference in beliefs towards Chris-- two groups of people on the outside, trying to look inside a boy who no one truly knew other than Chris himself, and as Jessica Robbins and Rebecca LaMarche say in their essays, he might have been looking for himself by going to Alaska. So that raises a few questions that are a tad bit difficult to answer. Does anyone truly know anyone else? What’s more, do we even know ourselves?

I know that most of the essays, as well as Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, mention that Chris was fond of authors like Tolstoy and Thoreau, but I believe that a line from Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” sums Chris up pretty well. Lines 1331 and 1332 read:

“You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless.”

Chris is a man who still confuses us today. We do not know who he is or why he truly did things, but we do know that he touched a great many people, making their lives just a bit more bearable. As Krakauer said in his author’s note for Into the Wild, “a surprising number of people have been affected by the story of Chris’s life and death.” So while we may not be able to understand quite why he did the things he did, and while we may never know Chris truly, we can honestly say that he touched or affected a great many. The way he affected these people, however, is a very different story.
David Korn accurately describes each point of view in the fourth part of his essay. Some people can relate to Chris, and therefore can forgive his flaws. They gain the courage to be who they are, and they gain the courage to dream. They are inspired by Chris, and gain the drive to push themselves further. A line from The Great Gatsby reads, “It eluded us then, but that’s no matter-- tomorrow we will run faster, and stretch out our arms farther,” (Fitzgerald 189). This sums it up nicely in the sense that while the readers who admire Chris may have let their dreams go in the past, they will now strive for them because of Chris. However, there are those that will condemn Chris for what he has done, claiming that he is “stupid” or “reckless”. But these people are more than likely trying not to look at the fact that while Chris was totally dedicated to his dreams, they themselves had let their dreams die out. They might be upset that Chris died before finishing out his dream, thus letting them down. Additionally, they could also be upset about how Chris had treated friends and family (Korn). Nevertheless, we all take Chris’s story “for what it means to us,” and “our understanding of the story centers around what it means to us,” (Korn).

What we think of Chris is simply our opinion. We can never be Chris, try as we might. Korn and Krakauer both walked the trail to Fairbanks Bus 142. They went and stayed there for awhile before leaving alive, unlike Chris. They got to see and hear and smell and just generally experience a lot of the things that Chris had gotten to experience. And yet, they still will never know the things that Chris was thinking during his stay. They were left with more questions than answers, and they will probably never have the answers to those. Chris will be a mystery forever, but we can still have our thoughts about him, and that’s what’s keeping Chris alive.


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