The Concept of Idealism in the Book Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer Essay
In literature, idealism refers to the immaterial mind; people normally try to relate what they think to what really happens in their lives. Idealists wish they would convert the things they keep in their minds from a virtual state to a real one (Graebner 1). Idealism plays an important role in the construction of the physical world in which people live.
Idealists assert that all physical objects on the surface of the earth depend on human mind and creativity and therefore, they exist solely as a result of that kind of dependence (Graebner 1). The article, Into the Wild, has addressed the concept of idealism through the activities outlined in its plot.
The concept of idealism relates to the assertion held by people, which states that reality is immaterial and can only be constructed through the mind. This ideology describes how human ideas can be used to construct and shape the society (Strohmer 1).
This paper will use the Krakauer’s book, Into the Wild, to address various concepts of idealism. The concepts to be addressed include how idealism is perceived by different individuals, its primary role in the text, how it influences the way people interact in the actual world, and how it correlates to various historical perceptions.
Idealism Concept in the Krakauer’s Book
The concept of idealism has been brought out in the text as an attempt to describe life without having to incorporate the idea of realism (Strohmer 1). In fact, the plot of the text begins on McCandless’ quest to explore life in the wild. McCandlss, the main character, is determined to explore the life of wealth and privilege.
This is a type of life that only exists in his mind and of which he thinks may exist in the actual world. It is as a result of the idealistic thought that the main character loses his life in the woods where he “stubbornly goes to prove the unrealistic thought” he has had about life (Krakauer 5).
Idealism has been used in the Krakauer’s book in such a way that it emphasizes more on the eternal reality than it does on the internal being in people. This is a common phenomenon in most books. It is more appropriate to outline the concept of idealism by relating it to the external reality (Strohmer 2).
This way, the author is capable of bringing out the concept in a more direct manner. The two characters, Alex and Gallien, feel that the bush is not the same as what is described in writing. They appear to be “preoccupied by idealism”, which is the formed opinion they have concerning a bush (Krakauer 7).
Idealism has also been displayed in the book Into the Wild, as a stream of consciousness of the main character. The story in the book has actually been developed as a result of the character’s pursuit of ideal aspects in life (Strohmer 2). The character feels that he can prove his point by touring the bush to see and compare what is inside to what he has formed in his mind.
In order to prove his assertion, the main character is willing and ready to explore the forest despite lacking the appropriate gear needed to do so. The character decides to carry out the mission as secretively as possible. He does not even inform any of his family members.
Although the main character is so possessed with the mission to explore the bush to verify what he considers as ideal, the other seem to understand that idealism is a phenomenon that only exists in someone’s mind and not in the practical world (Strohmer 2).
Gallien is opposed to Alex’s idea of exploring the bush. He understands that what Alex’s thinks in his mind may not be the case in the real sense. However, out of sympathy, he wants to assist him with the “appropriate equipment” that would help him enhance his safety while in the pursuit (Krakauer 43).
Importance of Idealism in the Krakauer’s Book
The concept of idealism is not only important in the plot development of the book, but has also been used by the author to bring out the main issues in the story. The plot of the book has been built entirely on the concept of idealism. The mission of the main character, Alex, of taking a tour across the bush has been “inspired by the thoughts he has regarding the life in the wilderness” (Krakauer 5).
It is a result of the urge to explore the bush that Alex and other characters get to see a variety of features of the wilderness. The characters visit many places such as Teklanika in their tour of the wild. They get to see beautiful points and features in these places. For instance, they get the opportunity to explore the banks of Teklanika and the channels that are spread evenly in the place (Krakauer 11).
It is through this picture that the character form illusions in their minds that lead them to scrutinize the features of the wildlife (Strohmer 3). The nature and the extent to which the characters are willing to go on with their mission are dependent on idealism. They even indulge into risky activities such as using manual and crude equipment to explore the depth and width of rivers in the wild. They also study floods in the area “despite the fact that they pose tremendous health hazards to them” (Krakauer 12).
It is through idealism that Krakauer is not only been able to develop the story in the most appropriate way, but also makes it quite interesting. It is interesting to see how idealists such as McCandless can decide to venture into tiresome and risky activities because of the urge to prove that what they have in their mind is right. McCandle visits a number of places, which include South Dakota and Carthage, sites that are considered extremely risky and unsafe (Krakauer 55).
The fact that it is as result of McCandless’ idealistic thoughts and the urge to verify them that he ends up losing his life in the wild, make the story even more interesting. McCandless is found dead in Alaska after carrying out the most part of his long and tiring mission.
It is alleged that his death could have been as a result of mental torture and his endless anxiety aimed at exploring the entire world to establish whether his thoughts were realistic or not. This implies that idealism can at times have unpleasant consequences, some of which are fatal and rather unbearable (Strohmer 2).
Idealism in the Real World
The concept of idealism plays a great role on how people see the things around them. The idealists assert that thoughts can be turned into realities, a concept that scientific viewpoints term as immaterial and quite difficult to measure. Although thoughts may be immaterial and for that reason, difficult to measure, it does not imply that they are totally useless or they do not exist (Strohmer 3).
According to idealists, what people think is the main drive of what normally happens in the real world. The idealists assert that world is best understood in the context of self-awareness in thought and not in the scientific or mathematical point of view (Strohmer 4).
Since idealism relates the real world to thought, the human perception of things is regarded as real and measurable. Most idealists hold that the physical world and its composition are a reflection of people’s mind and assertions. People’s mind and what happens in the world are inseparable.
It is the thought that drive what people do in the world ((Graebner 1)). This is also evident from Krakauer’s book where everything the characters do, are inspired by their thought and perception of the world. McCandless in particular leaves his home and family to survey the wilderness (Krakauer 5).
However, even the idealists admit that it is not easy to convert ideals into reality. Some of the idealists even end up dropping the thought they once regarded as useful and worthy. This is normally caused by two factors, cynicism and disillusionment, which come as a result of waiting for long to see if a thought will turn into reality ((Graebner 1)).
In conclusion, idealism is an important aspect in human life. It determines how people perceive the world and how they go about their activities. Even though it is difficult to measure how much a thought is ideal, thoughts exist and are responsible for the course that every person takes.
Graebner, Norman A. Gale Encyclopedia of US Foreign Policy: Realism and Idealism. Gale Cengage, n.d.
Krakauer, Jon. Into the Wild. London: Macmillan, 1998. Print.
Strohmer, Charles. Realism and Idealism. International Relations, n.d.
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