Into The Wild - Ruari Stewart          

Into The Wild Essay


Ruari Stewart
Transcendentalism Final Project
English 3

Transcendentalism is known as the philosophical movement as a protest to the general state of culture and society. Many Transcendentalists include Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. The way Chris McCandless acted during the end of his life were a lot like these Transcendentalists. Many people, including myself, would consider Chris McCandless to be a Transcendentalist. The ways that he hated on society, burned his money after he ruined his car, and went out into the Alaskan nature all by himself show that he is a true Transcendentalist.

As shown in the movie especially, Chris McCandless hates society. In the scene where Chris is in a bar with Wayne Westerberg, he starts yelling about “Society” and how it’s bad when he is telling Wayne about his trip to Alaska. In Ralph Waldo Emerson’s, “Self-Reliance”, it says on line 15, “Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.”. Ralph Waldo Emerson is saying here that Transcendentalists are nonconformists and that they do not like society. This is exactly how Chris McCandless behaves, so that is why many people believe he is a Transcendentalist.

When Chris McCandless burns his money, he is also showing that he is a nonconformist. By burning his money, he is showing that he is not willing to conform with society and saying that this money is useless. The definition of material is, “A tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important that spiritual values.”. Transcendentalists do not like materialism and are very against it. By owning money, Chris McCandless would have been materialistic, which would go against what he believes in, which are the beliefs of many Transcendentalists. By being a nonconformist and non-materialistic, Chris McCandless acts a lot like other Transcendentalists before him and this is why many people believe that he is also a Transcendentalist.

During Chris McCandless’s adventure, his main goal is to go to Alaska and live out in the wilderness by himself. Many Transcendentalists have done the same thing, and have written about how nature can help teach people and help them gain ideas. In Henry David Thoreau’s, ‘Walden’, on line 30, it says, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”. In this line, Thoreau talks about how he can learn from nature and how nature helps him truly live. Many other Transcendentalists, including Thoreau, feel the same way about nature. Chris McCandless wanted to go out into nature for the same reason it seems, to truly live and to learn. Just like other Transcendentalists like Thoreau had done before him. This is another reason why many people believe that Chris McCandless is a Transcendentalist.

During Chris McCandless’s “Adventure”, which is shown in the book, “Into the Wild”, by Jon Krakauer, and in the movie, “Into the Wild”, directed by Sean Penn, shows Chris McCandless acting as a Transcendentalist. They never truly say that Chris is a Transcendentalist, but many people, including myself, have thought that he is because of his actions. He acted a lot like other Transcendentalists before him and it is said that he read some books by Transcendentalists before he went off on this adventure. Chris McCandless by many, is believed to be a Transcendentalist and those are the reasons why.




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