Into The Wild - Sarah Ulaky 2          

Into The Wild Essay

McCandless’s ideas of individuality led to rebellion within his quest to find his own sense of individuality and independence. Along his journey to Alaska, McCandless changes his name to Alexander Supertramp in order to pursue his new identity as a free man. The last name of “Supertramp” is significant of his tramping and hitch hiking across North America. Changing his birth name also symbolizes spite against his parents who gave him his rightful name.
When the twenty four year old McCandless’s remains were found, works of Thoreau containing highlighted passages were also discovered. His vast appreciation for Thoreau inspired him to break free from civilization and to maintain his own identity. Both Thoreau and McCandless exiled themselves from society as they lived in isolation; Thoreau living in a cabin in Concord, Massachusetts in 1845 and McCandless residing in an abandoned bus in Fairbanks, Alaska in 1992. The two Transcendentalists drew conclusions of the world around them through documentations in journals. Similar to Thoreau, McCandless felt misled by society, and as consequence, both men fled to declare their own free existence and escaped a life of conformity. From a passage that McCandless highlighted in Walden, Thoreau writes, “No man ever followed his genius till it misled him. Through the result were bodily weakness, yet perhaps no one can say that the consequences were to be regretted, for these were a life in conformity to higher principles” (1093). This highlighted passage parallels the transcendental thoughts and actions exhibited by McCandless.

The transcendental idea of minimalism is portrayed within McCandless’s simplicity and the desire to survive with only essentials. He abandons his car, donates his savings account and burns the rest of the money in his pocket, and carries a backpack with few items and insufficient clothing. He feeds off of rice, berries and plants, and hunts wild animals. Upon interview with Jim Gallien, an electrician who picked up the hitchhiker on his way to Anchorage, Alaska, Krakaeur discovers:

Alex admitted that the only food in his pack was a ten-pound bag of rice. His gear seemed exceedingly minimal for the harsh conditions of the interior…Alex’s cheap leather hiking boots were neither waterproof nor well insulated. His rifle was only .22 caliber, a bore too small to rely on if he expected to kill large animals like moose and caribou…He has no ax, no bug dope, no snowshoes, no compass. The only navigational aid in his possession was a tattered state road map he scrounged at a gas station. (5)

McCandless brought few belongings with him on his travels not because he was ill-prepared, but because he wanted a challenge. He wanted to see the world for what it was worth, and take on the wilderness head on. As he hitch hikes his way through North America, he sets up camp sites as his means for shelter, until he finally reaches Fairbanks, Alaska and lives in an abandoned bus, which he named the “Magic Bus.” The Christopher McCandless Biography states, “The challenge to himself was to travel with the least amount of belongings as possible and as little money as possible. He had no map and no agenda, just the will to travel” (Read). He was willing to risk everything by attempting to live off of almost nothing.

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