Chris McCandless' Pursuit of the Transcendentalist Dream

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Beliefs are what define humans not as a society, but as individuals. Individualism is a large part of Transcendentalism, which was a movement started in the mid-nineteenth century led by figures such as Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Into the Wild, written in 1997 by Jon Krakauer, is a modern novel that examines a transcendentalist young adult. That young man is Chris McCandless, who leaves his family at the age of 23 to live the Transcendentalist dream. He hitchhikes and travels through many rivers and cities to get to Alaska, the place where he believes he can finally experience that dream. Transcendentalism is the idea that humans are innately one with nature, and therefore God, and that nature is the only place where humans belong because society is poisonous. By enjoying himself and connecting with god through the environment in an isolated location, Chris McCandless demonstrates that he is a faithful Transcendentalist.

Because he is a true believer, Chris McCandless is a very spiritual person. Although he never states he is part of a specific religion, he believes in a some godly presence; an important part of being a Transcendentalist. In the end of the book, when Chris is near his inevitable passing, he writes a farewell note to anyone who finds his body. In his final note, he is very euphoric, and not at all regretful of his decision to venture into the Alaskan bush, “I HAVE HAD A HAPPY LIFE AND THANK THE LORD. GOODBYE AND MAY GOD BLESS ALL!” (199). Because he said he had a happy life, and that he thanks the lord, it is clear that Chris appreciates the spirituality within Transcendentalism. It takes true dedication and appreciation in Chris’s final moment to write about spirituality, which is why he includ...

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...mplary devotee.

Because of certain traits exhibited by Chris, he is representative of the true meaning of Transcendentalism. For example, he is always enchanted with nature, seeking it’s unlimited freedom wherever he may be. He also sees it as a place of rebirth, a way to escape his old life and start anew. Additionally, he doesn’t need other people, because he holds nature closer to his heart than anyone human he knows. Finally, he finds spirituality within the wilderness, for he directs all of his positive feelings towards a tangible image of higher power. All of those reasons support the fact that Chris is a true believer. Because Chris enjoys being in nature, draws a spiritual meaning from it, and sees it as a place of rebirth, he is a prime example Transcendentalism.

Work Cited

Krakauer, Jon. Into the Wild. New York: Anchor Books, 1997. Print.
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