Term Paper on Into The Wild

This essay has a total of 1715 words and 6 pages.

Into The Wild


Sometimes a character may be pushed over the edge by our materialistic society to discover
his/her true roots, which can only be found by going back to nature where monetary status
was not important. Chris McCandless leaves all his possessions and begins a trek across
the Western United States, which eventually brings him to the place of his demise-Alaska.
Jon Krakauer makes you feel like you are with Chris on his journey and uses exerts from
various authors such as Thoreau, London, and Tolstoy, as well as flashbacks and narrative
pace and even is able to parallel the adventures of Chris to his own life as a young man
in his novel Into the Wild. Krakauer educates himself of McCandless' story by talking to
the people that knew Chris the best. These people were not only his family but the people
he met on the roads of his travels- they are the ones who became his road family.


McCandless, an intelligent child to say the least, was frustrated with orders by anyone.
He wanted to do things his way or no way and he does this throughout his life. Whether it
was getting an F in physics because he refused to write lab reports a certain way (an F
was something that was never on McCandless report card) or not listening to advice from
his parents to the extreme of leaving society to go into the wilderness, McCandless
definitely was not a follower. His parents were told by one of his teachers at an early
age that Chris "marched to the beat of his own drummer". Chris never lost his ability to
do things the way he wanted and when he wanted to do them. After receiving his diploma
from Emory in 1990 he set off on a two-year escapade that would eventually end his life
but in my opinion, if Chris could start over he would probably not do things much
differently. I think he would still donate his $25,000 to an organization, leave his car
in the woods, burn the remainder of his money, and hitch-hiked across the United States.
The only thing he might do differently is finding a way not to starve to death at the end
of the novel.


In the beginning of each chapter, Krakauer includes one or two exerts from various authors
of nature such as Thoreau, Tolstoy, or London. Once in a while he even includes postcards
that Chris had sent to some of the people he met along his journey, which show what he was
feeling throughout the trip. Some of the exerts were taken from what was highlighted in
the books found with Chris in the bus he was discovered dead in. Other exerts were just
chosen by Krakauer to help give the reader a sense of what other naturalists were thinking
when they left civilization (Thoreau for example). The last postcard ever received by
Chris was addressed to one of his friends that he met along his trip. Wayne Westerberg was
the one who was delivered the postcard that included the line "if this adventure proves
fatal and you don't ever hear from me again I want you to know you're a great man. I now
walk into the wild." Chris almost knew that he would not make it out of the wild alive.
Chris was seeking adventure. His trip to Alaska was the "drug" that made him high. "I
wanted movement and not a calm course of existence. I wanted excitement and danger and the
chance to sacrifice myself for my love. I felt in myself a superabundance of energy which
found no outlet in our quiet life."-Leo Tolstoy-highlighted in one of the books found with
McCandless's remains. Krakauer wastes no time getting into the story and tells the reader
from the beginning that McCandless eventually reaches the end of his journey of life in
Alaska but he still leaves out enough to make the story interesting and he introduces the
information that fills the gaps of the story through flashback.


The reader knows that there is not going to be a happy ending in Into the Wild. It is no
secret that McCandless does not survive but the reader still wants to continue reading to
get into the mind of McCandless. What would cause a bright and compassionate child to
leave a safe environment and venture into the wild to have brushes with death on an
everyday basis? The yearning that some people have to live on the dangerous side and get
away from it all is the only answer. Krakauer only introduces Chris as the kid who dies in
Alaska in the beginning of the novel but he uses flashback to create a picture of Chris to
the reader as the novel progresses. He shows Chris as the child who grew more and more
outraged with society every year of his life and eventually sought nature and solitude to
get away from it all. Chris was not someone who you would expect to do something like this
by reading descriptions of him. Who would think that a person who cares so much about
others, who would go as far as give out food to the homeless in Washington on his Friday
nights or let a vagabond sleep in his parent's camper would isolate himself from people?
Chris is depicted as an outgoing child who can succeed at anything he puts his mind to and
who does not need to work hard to learn things but refuses to waste time on perfection
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