Into The Wild - Katelyn Gilmore Pt4          

Fairbanks Bus 142

Lost in the wild is what Christopher McCandless set out to do in order to set himself free from a population filled with domineering authority and emphasis on materialism. With an urge to escape all his life, (i.e. wandering six blocks as a child late at night, leaving on a road-trip solo after graduating high-school, finding solitude in numerous books, etc.) upon graduating from college on the honour roll, he simply cut up his government-issued identification, threw out his licence plate, and left his past behind. Unchaining himself from his past, the alias ‘Alexander Supertramp’ was born. A new personal identity allowed for new experiences, which shapes the core of man’s spirit according to Chris. He believed one should “Find yourself at least once in the most ancient of civilizations with nothing to help you; with only your hands and your own head” (Penn, 2007). Returning back to how humanity’s ancestors have lived offered comfort to Chris and opportunity to discover who he truly was without distraction from power or products. He encouraged others to do the same with further explanation “It should not be denied that being footloose has always exhilarated us. It is associated in our minds with escape from history, oppression, and law to obligations. The absolute freedom is the road” (Penn ,2007). The road helped define Chris, with exploration from Arizona, California, South Dakota, Colorado, Mexico, throughout Canada, to finally Alaska. Most significantly, he died a happy man fulfilled from nature and discovery instead of gadgets and mistaken superiority.

To encapsulate with a quote from Carine McCandless, Chris’s sister,

“It was inevitable that Chris would break away, and when he did he would do it with characterization and moderation…He had spent four years fulfilling the absurd and tedious duty of graduating college and now he was emancipated from that world of distraction, false security, parents, and material excess. The things that cut Chris off from the truth of existence.”

The truth of existence is accessible through personal satisfaction of goals and breaking away from the weaknesses of society. Christopher McCandless did so through travelling; Tyler Durden through rebellion. Although both extremists in their own right, the wisdom behind their actions should be admired as they achieved enlightenment in the end above everything else. To support this insight, one can analyze the works of the influential poet, author, and icon Henry David Thoreau.

Thoreau’s novel titled ‘Walden; or Life in the Woods’ embarked his experience of roughly two years living secluded in nature. His aim was spiritual discovery, much like the protagonists in Fight Club and Into The Wild faced. Self-sufficiency and simple living were alternate themes in Walden, equivalent to both works as well. Thoreau described,

“I wish to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived…to drive life into a corner and reduce it to its lowest terms, and if it parsed to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world.” (Thoreau, 143)

He concludes by criticizing conformity, stating “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. By doing so, men may find happiness and self-fulfillment” (Thoreau, unknown). He also measures success by happiness. All of which resemble the message of how authority and materialism don’t create pleasure, and conforming to society’s ideals is harmful. Thoreau pushed boundaries by removing himself from the rest, much like Durden and McCandless, all of whom awoke to their own epiphany to the meaning of life.

In conclusion, by breaking away from society’s customs and packaged lifestyles, one discovers a greater sense of self. Excess materialism and authoritative figures can only restrict and distract from a higher level of fulfillment and supresses individuals to yearn for freedom. The film Into The Wild and the novel Fight Club demonstrate the struggle people encounter if they fall victim to money, power, and control. Although extremists, both Tyler Durden and Christopher McCandless were determined to achieve personal goals. Their decline to awake to what truly matters in life should be noted as they achieved greatness through discovering joy, regardless of the journey it took to get there. To quote McCandless and ultimately Thoreau, “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” It is time to awake to the truth of the detrimental aspects society brings including consuming and hierarchy of control. It should be encouraged to grasp what is desired to each and every one of us in life instead of succumbing to the system we are born in to. It is time to encourage freedom.

Works Cited
Palahniuk, Chuck. Fight Club. New York, London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1996. Print.

Penn, Sean, dir. Into The Wild. Paramount Village, 2007. Film.

Bibliography of Secondary Sources
Thoreau, Henry. Walden; or Life in the Woods. 1854. Print.

Katelyn Gilmore Part 1

Katelyn Gilmore Part 2

Katelyn Gilmore Part 3

Katelyn Gilmore Part 4


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