Into The Wild - Malcolm Brownell          

Into The Wild Essay

Malcolm Brownell
Honors World Literature IV
Mr. Epifanio
8/12/14
Into the Wild Essay

Everyone has a different opinion on what the meaning of life is. This is because everyone has their own definition of what life in general is because they have different dreams and aspirations. Some people dream to have a small coffee business in a small town of Tennessee, while some people want to be the biggest business tycoon in the country. Either way, they still have dreams. Chris McCandless, raised in Annandale, Virginia, just so happens to be one of the big dreamers. However, his dreams are a bit different than the average person’s. He aspired to hitchhike all the way from Atlanta, Georgia to the wilderness of Fairbanks, Alaska. I have to admit that after I finished the book, “Into the Wild,” by Jon Krakauer, I harshly criticized McCandless’s actions and his reasoning for doing so. However, after reading essays by David Korn, Jessica Robbins, and Rebecca LaMarche, who all were supporters of McCandless, my opinion of him changed in a completely different direction. I went from thinking “What was he thinking going to Alaska with almost nothing,” to “That was probably the most courageous thing I’ve heard.” What changed my opinion most was learning that “maybe his search for solitude wasn’t so callous and misanthropic after all; maybe a small part of him clung to society the whole time” (Robbins). McCandless decided to not conform to society and do what he wanted to do, not what he was expected to do.

McCandless was definitely known as a dream chaser, literally. McCandless was perfectly content with his life. At the end of the novel, McCandless writes in his journal, “I HAVE HAD A HAPPY LIFE AND THANK THE LORD. GOODBYE AND MAY GOD BLESS ALL!” (Krakauer, 199). McCandless wrote note in his journal just days before his death. What he is trying to say is that he died a happy death. He doesn’t care that he didn’t do what was expected of him, he achieved his dream and then died peacefully, which more than likely made his family feel much better knowing that he didn’t die a tragic death.
A big part of McCandless’s journey and achieving his dreams was his support system. His support system consisted of no one. He was very self-reliant and “through Chris’ idealism, independence, and true self-reliance, he was able to create a new life for himself” (LaMarche). Although he was a very independent individual, he had some help from various people that picked him up by giving him various jobs, such as McDonalds and manual labor, both of which he was praised for being a great employee.

As I previously mentioned before, I harshly criticized McCandless’s actions and decisions after I finished the book. What I didn’t understand was how it would feel if I walked in his shoes. David Korn, actually does go to the exact place where McCandless camped out for his last sixteen weeks of life. His essay helps us understand that “Chris’ story forces us not only to question what forgotten dream within ourselves is important enough to risk everything for, but it also forces us to take a long hard look in the mirror and ask ourselves why we have abandoned this thing. Maybe we try to dismiss Chris McCandless with simple labels like ‘reckless’ and ‘stupid’ because this is something we don’t want to face” (Korn). Chris’s story definitely taught me how to live my own life up to my own expectations and not to society’s. At the end of the day, Christopher McCandless is the one that ended up on the front of newspapers all around the world because of his courageous choices.


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