Into The Wild - Ligia          

Into The Wild Essay

Ligia Frangello
ENGL 101

Books are written to express the author’s feeling; to inform the reader; to tell a story, whether it happened or not. Jon Krakauer has written many books; but none of them can compare to the “compelling and tragic” (San Francisco Chronicle), “Into the Wild”. The book originally written in 1996, was republished right before the movie was released. With new cover with pictures from the movie is easy to imagine the book being written after the movie; which gives a certain uncertainty about the authenticity of the facts. But both editions of the book were bestsellers, as well other books Jon Krakauer wrote.

“Into the Wild” tells a story of a young man, Chris McCandless, who saw society in a different manner. “Chris displayed a staggering paucity of common sense.”(85) He saw his parents as material hypocrites. “they(his parents) will think they have bought my respect”(21) words from one the letters Chris sent to his sister Carine. He did not believe in the good of his parent’s actions; as Chris said in the same letter “they think I’d actually let them pay for my law school” (21). As he grows into young manhood, Chris grows into an idealist person; critiques even dare to say he was a man full of arrogance that ultimately killed him. After he graduated college with honors; he made his way from Atlanta, Georgia to Stampede Trail, Alaska. Chris calls his journey the “Alaska Odyssey”. Every step he took through his journey, he left something from the past behind, either material or sentimental. Little is known from his two years journey, from when he left Atlanta in June 1990 to when he was found dead in September 1992 in the middle of Alaska. Krakauer went through extensive research for more than a year following McCandless path unrevealing his experiences through Chris’s Diary and the connections he left behind.

When reading the book, the reader has to keep a complete open mind and try not to judge the character until he/she finishes reading the book. The author does a very good job showing both sides of the thoughts on McCandless adventure. But it is impossible to leave the critical side off when reading this book. Mainly because Chris would be considered a “right man”; he had a post-secondary education, he had a quite wealthy family and lived in a favorable region. But Chris was something different. During high school Chris was the captain at a Cross Country team where their goal was to run until they got lost. He always had a thirst for adventure. Right after he decided to go on his journey, Chris donated all his saving to charity and left his car behind. He thought nothing good comes from money, Chris claimed “money makes people cautious”. He had no attachment to materials things whatsoever; different from the society where he had grown, that idealizes materials things as success and purpose of life. Chris was not after security. He just wanted to live like his hero, Jack London; and for that he rejected his privileged life, his family and his own identity. Later on Chris McCandless adopted the pseudonym of Alex Supertramp.

His difficulty to fit in was obvious; McCandless disliked human intimacy because he saw it as a baggage “he was… relived that he had again evaded the impending intimacy, of friendship, and all the messy emotional baggage that comes with” (55). Everyone Chris met during his journey was kept at an arm’s length; so he could evade them before anything was expected from him. But Chris had adopted a different attitude, under the pseudonym of Alex Supertramp, with everyone around him. He did not express the same misery and hate like he used to with his parents. When interviewing people that crossed Chris’s path during his journey, Krakauer never got a negative reaction. Everyone who met Chris McCandless was mesmerized by him. He could enchant people within a few minutes of his presence. And why he had such a hateful relationship with his father is poorly expressed by the lack of information about it. Or maybe Chris McCandless had a bad side, where his rebellion was all about hating his parents and running away from it.

With the goal of “actually living” his life, Chris challenges himself in everywhere he goes in his “odyssey”. “London’s (Chris’ literature hero) fervent condemnation of capitalist society, his glorification of the world, his championing of the great unwashed” (44) were the words that mirrored McCandless passion. For Chris the mountains, deserts, and rivers are not just a physical place. When he was facing a desert he saw it as a challenge, a challenge to himself; illustrating his hubris. Chris was never afraid enough through his life; and if he was, he would hide behind his pride. Same for the mountains, McCandless sees them as they have been put there to test his competency and character. Although Chris looks tough when faced with a challenge, there was challenge he could not predict. Though his journey Chris faced multiple bodies of water, he conquered his childhood fear of water. But when Chris got to Alaska he could not predict the magnificent power of nature. His pride had blinded him, he thought he was invincible. From his journal’s entry Chris once showed fear: "Extremely weak, fault of pot. Seed. Much trouble just to stand up. Starving. Great Jeopardy” (189). As he cannot cross the once frozen river, he had to extend his stay; depriving him from food and his return back to society. Some say McCandless could have stopped being such a stubborn man and carried a map. But I see how McCandless thought the map would ruin the essence of his journey though does not mean he was right. As Victor Rosellini –– someone to whom Chris is compared to in the book –– said: “I learned that is not possible for human beings as we know them to live off the land.”(75), McCandless journey, with his limited skills, would have been hard to accomplish and at some point it would fail. Chris should have had prepared more, but the bureaucracy and costs of doing so discouraged him along the way. Society once again interfered in a negative away in Chris life, but this time costing him his life.

Works Cited:

Krakauer, Jon. Into the Wild. New York: Anchor, 1997. Print.
"Rare TV Show about Chris McCandless." 20/20. ABC. 30 May 1996. Television.
"Christopher McCandlessaka Alexander Supertramp." Chris McCandless Now I Walk Into The Wild. Adam Read, 2011. Web. 28 Apr. 2014. <>.
"Jon Krakauer." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 28 Apr. 2014. Web. 30 Apr. 2014. <>.

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