Into The Wild - Samuel Johnson        

Into The Wild Essay

Samuel Johnson
3/1/17

Self-Peace, Solitude, and Serenity

To man, some things are simply unthinkable. The outer reaches of the solar system, though now within our grasp, were once perceived this way. The deepest reaches of the ocean, where extraordinary organisms lurk along the seemingly empty and desolate bottom, were once perceived this way. And even the digital world and all of its capabilities were once perceived this way. So why is it then, that just the far corners of our backyard are still perceived this way? Christopher McCandless and his actions were perceived as unthinkable by a hefty community of Alaskan residents and outdoorsman alike. However, it seems to skip the mind the reason why McCandless embarked on a journey that would almost surely result in death. For someone who took it upon himself to venture into territory unknown to him and survive off of what he could gather, Chris made a remarkable example of mankind. Secondly, after his tenure at post-secondary schooling, Chris took it upon himself to venture on his own, with occasional help of course, into the vast stretches of the United States. This in conjunction with the abandonment of possessions and goods made Chris a figure of certainty in self and human capability. Christopher McCandless truly was a symbol of individual liberty.

When driven into perspective, the act of placing all belief into yourself and the capabilities of your body and mind are a rare feat to achieve. Seldom does humanity see those who sacrifice all to meet these capabilities. Chris McCandless challenged life and the scheduled day-in and day-out routine that is all too common. To challenge this, Chris ventured out into the vast stretches of the United States in search of personal freedom, almost entirely free from a routine. The grand goal of this trip was Alaska. Chris was led into the Alaskan wilderness on the outskirts of Denali National Park, as documented in Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. There, just miles off of the Stampede Trail, was where Chris settled in Fairbanks Bus 142. Throughout his tenure at the bus, Chris lived off of what nature provided. Chris had successfully lived off of the land. In a societal structure so dependent on everything being provided, the act of providing for yourself on land that is foreign to you is a difficult task to complete. The brute force of the human body and spirit also come into play here. Competency was necessary for Chris to survive. In fact, that very same competency and the belief in it was what led him out into the wilderness in the first place. Although, the Alaskan wilderness wasn’t the only place Chris would visit.

After graduating college, Chris McCandless began the journey that shaped his life and many others after him. For the next two years, Chris would travel the country and document what he experienced in his journal which was then used post-mortem in Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild. The travels showed the grit and spirit that were a common theme throughout McCandless’s lifetime. After being introduced into the unrestricted world, Chris eliminated any traces of his parents as he did not need their support. His internal and external revolution of independence was in full swing. From this point onward, Chris was by himself and had travelled directly west in his yellow Datsun. During the bulk of his journey, Chris was alone — save the times in which he had taken up hitchhiking. The independence was still overpowering. As mentioned just previously, Chris’s independency was interrupted by his hitchhiking and the occasional job he would hold. These of course were due to issues beyond his control such as flash floods disabling his Datsun. After this, Chris abandoned his car which wasn’t a rare sight to see from him.

Chris McCandless abandoned a good deal of possessions during his journey across the country. Money was burned, a rifle was buried, and a Datsun was left behind. When compared to what we see today, abandonment of goods is almost a last resort but to Chris, it was met with no resistance. McCandless proved that materialism was not needed in his life. The elimination of goods was symbolic in a way too. This allowed Chris to essentially transcend the boundaries of a consumerist life and really live the life that is meant for all organisms. Possessions were of no use to Chris McCandless and it became evident that he not only did not rely on these possessions, but despised them in a way. It also seems that to survive, humans almost “need” materials. This is not the case, however. As McCandless showed, he could survive off of these goods and lived mostly on his own self. Such methods of survival all relate to the central idea of the capabilities of man.

All in all, Chris McCandless is a symbol of individual freedom, liberty, and independence. A man with his heart set out on the wide open stretches of wilderness and a martyr of those seeking refuge outside of the discorded structure of today. When Christopher McCandless set foot on the voyage that would seal his fate, he did so with elegance, determination, and a decent amount of narcissism. His expedition was characterized by his competence in being in the Alaskan wilderness alone, his tenure of two years tramping the nation, and his abandonment of his possessions. Many critics do not believe in the real reason why Chris ventured out into the wild 25 years ago. For most, Chris was an overly-ambitious kid looking to prove his worth in the wild. Although we may not ever know the true reasons why Chris decided to take himself up to Alaska, we can only speculate about the reason why. Possibly Chris was simply trying to prove himself by arriving in such a hostile climate willingly unprepared. It is also a possibility that Chris was attempting to find some relaxation of sorts, almost like a release physically, mentally, and spiritually. IT might just be possible Chris was looking for his self-peace, solitude, and serenity.




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