Into The Wild - Johnna Coffin

Into The Wild Essay

Johnna Coffin

Christopher McCandless was a boy who shocked everyone. He gave up his life, family, friends, belongings and identity and traveled across America in search of Alaska. When he died and became so famous, many questioned his notoriety. One of the most insightful was a simple question. Why? Why would someone give up everything to wander, lost, in the cold depths of Alaska simply to “find himself”? I believe that he truly felt that he could go out into this cold, uninhabited area and still live to tell the tale. However, he did not survive for long, and someone else was inspired to scavenge across the US in search of his story. There is no true surprise that he was not alive for long. He went in with nothing but a bag of rice, a gun, and his own two hands. There is a difference between being inspired and being unprepared. While Chris McCandless was motivated, he was also ill-advised.

If this young boy was more set on living through his experience, he would have prepared further. He would have searched the area for signs of life or people. This would have truly helped him to live, for he would have found a gauging station a mere five miles north. He might not have starved if he conducted this search. The starvation may have also been prevented if he were more familiar with the food around him. His ignorance led him to, essentially, poisoning himself and quickening his death.

However, it seems all of us have a little bit of Chris McCandless in us. We rush into things unprepared. We make mistakes. We think we are capable of anything. But one thing we cannot do is run away from ourselves. McCandless tried to run away from society, his family, and his past self. He can re-invent himself and form a new environment for ourselves, but in doing that we overlook future consequences. However, it is part of our human nature to do just that. We never remain stationed. We will move, grow, mess up, get back up, and change. Jessica Robbins said, “It takes a great amount of courage to set your mind to something, and to fulfill that goal no matter what the costs are, no matter what people will think of you.” However, it really doesn’t. Yes, it takes that kind of strength in McCandless’ situation, but breaking the norms and fulfilling our dreams is part of our human nature. It doesn’t matter the size of the situation or the goal, but we, as humans, will instinctively do whatever it takes to reach our destination. But in the end, is it really the destination most of us crave? David Korn wrote “I want to understand why Chris McCandless came here, what he was feeling at the culmination of his journey, what he found in the heart of the Alaskan bush.” In a way, he is right in his statement that Chris’ feelings were birthed during the journey. True, he began in search of Alaska and himself. But the hearts he touched along the way and the memories he made during his long journey was more than he could have ever made during his time in Alaska. Rebecca Lamarche sums his journey up perfectly. “Through Chris’ idealism, independence, and true self-reliance, he was able to create a new life for himself.” He did want he wanted and did not listen to anyone else. He created his own odyssey, his own journey, and his own path. He found his greatness, and shared it with the world.


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