Into The Wild - Dominique Guilford          

Into The Wild Essay

Dominique Guilford
Mr. Epifanio
Honors World Lit 4 P. 7
August 18th, 2014

Finding oneself through the Destruction of Society’s Standards

The story of Christopher McCandless is intriguing yet disappointing for it brought forth a death that could have been prevented. Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild reflects on the journey McCandless embarked on, while in the Alaskan wilderness. Some may argue that McCandless was simply crazy to go on an adventure of the like, without being prepared. On the flip side of this argument, many believe that this decision was made on purpose to present a statement for himself, and society. At this time in Christopher's life, he was dealing with a personal challenge within himself because his parents held high values in materialism, while McCandless did not. It is evident that American society also shares these values, which ultimately leaves individuals like Christopher in a non-conformed position. However, what is wrong with nonconformity?

Although Chris has been said to be a stubborn young man; without this characteristic he would not have accomplished leaving his legacy behind. The start of this legacy, was the creation of a new life with the name of Alexander Supertramp. In support of this statement, Rebecca LaMarche's essay Matters of Independence: A Study of Self – Reliance in Into the Wild mentions that “he could not allow himself to conform”, and that Christopher's new name was definitely a “necessary change for him”. There is no doubt about it that McCandless strongly believed in independence, and self-reliance. He wanted his parents to understand that money cannot buy happiness, and contentment among one's self. It appears that Chris was not satisfied with himself at home, for Krakauer's book states that he was intelligent; having outstanding grades while constantly pushing himself. Therefore finding himself as a human being apart from this society and family was clearly a desire of his. Later on in her essay, LaMarche even states that “it was important for him to be truly alone, without human companionship or human resources, to provide an honest test of his independence”.

What many fail to realize, is that individualism is mighty difficult to obtain, because humans are used to guidance, and like stated previously “resources”. However, in order to fully capture the essence of independence and the mind of an individual without outside influences, a journey like McCandless' is essential. Once out in nature, there is no judgment or guidance. This could be the reason to why McCandless chose to leave society, and put himself into a predicament where only he could help, judge and guide himself. In Jessica Robbins essay Northern Exposures, she says that “it saddens me that people tend to only appreciate the obvious”. Robbins also goes on to say that “going on a journey to find yourself is more important than any realize”. If people counter this argument, they are probably not ready to stop conforming to what this society has created; a materialistic, non-independent minded mess. Christopher just wanted to truly know himself, and identify his own thoughts without being led by outside standards. Jessica Robbins also mentions that Chris “was a truly unique soul . . . [and] he didn't care what people thought of him”. It is not until the point when someone stops caring about others’ perception of them, that they finally come into contact with themselves.

In final consideration, Christopher McCandless was not foolish, stupid, or inconsiderate. He was a young man that knew who he wanted to be, and was anxiously ready to obtain it. This person just wasn't who his parents, or community envisioned. In David Korn's essay (part 4), he writes “Chris probably needed to fine tune the balance in his life”. It is strongly suggested that every human being needs this once in a while, and McCandless was just a person who was done waiting around for it. Also, in Korn's essay (part 5), he says that “what really upsets us is the fact that he didn't make it . . . We are angry at Chris for letting us down”. In my opinion, Christopher did not let us down at all. Instead, he gave us something to look forward to; something to reconsider in this society. While many of us go around trying to conform to the values/trends of being an American, there are some out there like McCandless. Some actually believe that their opinions, thoughts, and beliefs which are separate from those of the majority matter. I guess it just takes people like McCandless to go through a tragic and devastating result to bring this to light.


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