Into The Wild: Chris Mccandless’ Journey In The Wild

June 22, 2022 by Essay Writer

Chris McCandless to many people was insane, going from Atlanta, to California, to Colorado, to Mexico, then finally to Alaska, all while hitchhiking, and surviving off the essentials. Krakauer notes how many people called Chris names such as a “kook”, a “nut”, and even a “half-cocked greenhorn”. While hitchhiking across Western United States and even Alaska, he refers to himself as Alex in order to become a “master of his own destiny” (Krakauer CHAPTER 3). Krakauer suggests this is because he is ashamed of his past experiences with his parents such as Chris’s dad cheating on Chris’s mom, and had an affair with another woman. Krakauer interviews Chris’s parents, siblings, and even looks at Chris’s own diary entries in attempts to tune in to Chris’s mind in order to figure out why he had done something so unique. 

Chris without a doubt was interest in learning as much as he could, proved by his love for reading, and sharing knowledge for others. His love of books attracted many people towards him, including Wayne Westerberg, whom he gives War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. Chris also writes about himself in his diaries in the third person, which is usually not the case. This shows the reader how Chris McCandless recognizes himself as a separate entity throughout his adventure, almost suggesting that he knew someone was going to read his diary, and made it more simplistic for them to understand, which sets Chris apart from many in Into the Wild. He tries to spread his philosophies when hiking to other people and hoping others would give up their materialistic lifestyle in order to achieve peace with themselves. Krakauer very clearly illustrates to the reader that Chris values experiences rather than materialistic items while hiking out West. He enjoyed the thrill of having no safety net to fall back on and relying solely on the pieces of Earth around him to survive. This is proven when Chris sends a letter to Wayne Westerberg which said, “My days were more exciting when I was penniless and had to forage around for my next meal” (Krakauer CHAPTER 4). Chris expresses that living on his own terms, not confined by the bounds of his parents was the best, and most enjoyable way to live, as shown when Chris writes in his journal, “It is… the great triumphant joy of living to the fullest extent in which real meaning is found’ (Krakauer CHAPTER 4). 

Chris McCandless was described as someone who did everything perfect as a kid, which led him to be overconfident. This is shown when Chris’s dad said “Chris was good at almost everything he tried … Which made him supremely overconfident” (Krakauer 83). While this can be a good trait, for Chris it led to him being ignorant, and thinking he could survive in Alaska with barely any equipment. It does however demonstrate that Chris is determined and takes pride in any task that he does. Personally, I feel as if Chris McCandless should have been more prepared for his journey. If he would have spent some of the money he donated to charity in order to buy new boots, better hunting equipment, and a better shelter, then his adventure would have not ended fatally. The ultimate conflict that Chris faces throughout his journey, is keeping his hopes up despite the lack of encouragement from others. Throughout his journey, people such as Jim Gallien questioned whether he should go on this adventure, as supported by the quote “livin’ in the bush is no picnic.” (Krakauer 5). However, even people up to this day still defend Chris, and his efforts to live a life in the wild. This is shown when Roman Dial says, “And I bet you that very few, if any, of the people who call McCandless incompetent have ever done it either…” (Krakauer SOME PAGE). Even though Krakauer has done extensive research to discover what was going through Chris’s mind to go into the wild depths of Alaska, no one will truly know the exact reason behind his logic besides Chris himself.

Jon Krakauer uses an interesting tone while writing this book. Although it is more of a reportorial work, he adds some empathy to McCandless’s situation while relating it to an experience he had while climbing a cliff named Devil’s Thumb. Although many critiques call Chris insane, Krakauer saw the method in his madness, as he was put in the same family situation which caused him to go on wild adventures, which is something normal people cannot comprehend. Krakauer also uses clever wordplay to force the reader to visualize what he is trying to communicate through words. For example, when Krakauer says, “The Stampede Trail was graded and led past cabins scattered among weedy stands of spruce and aspen” (Krakauer 7), this clever use of diction separates him from other authors in that he elaborates more on settings and quotations allowing the reader to fully comprehend what is happening throughout the novel. Krakauer realizes that the setting around his subject is deep in the Alaskan bush, and that his audience will more than likely be an intelligent audience capable of understanding the unique words he uses to convey a scene. For example, in the quote above, instead of simply saying “the Stampede trail was that of many weeds and brush”, Krakauer goes even deeper to explain that the trail had a slight grade to it, a skill most authors do not even think about doing.

Krakauer knew from the beginning that this book was going to leave the audience with many questions, as well as their own impression on Chris, and those he met while on his adventure. Into the Wild impacts society in ways very few books can. It teaches society to get rid of the materialistic values that we have created over the years and do simply what makes them happy, instead of validating themselves to others with currency or expensive objects. Into the Wild impacts the reader by teaching them life lessons such as thinking independently, and to not listen to the naysayers. McCandless was often shunned because of his actions, from people calling him crazy, to psychotic, and even insane for living the life he knew would bring him the most joy. It teaches the reader that if they have a vision of what he or she wants to do, then they shouldn’t worry about being told “no” or “that’s impossible”. He or she should strive to defy what was once never done before and succeed at something the world has only dreamed of accomplishing.


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