Comparing Characters of Ellen Foster and Into the Wild

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Comparing Characters of Ellen Foster and Into the Wild

The raging cold screams against his back at night. Her father's drunken jeers make her shiver as she cowers in the corner of her room. Both have natural families, yet both have been driven to flee from these families. She flees because her life amongst family is terrifying, loveless, and oppressive. He flees because he believes that his family has grown arrogant and materialistic, and is thus oppressive as well.

She is the title character of Kaye Gibbons' Ellen Foster, and he is Chris McCandless, a real young man portrayed by Jon Krakauer in Into the Wild. In their respective stories, Ellen and Chris both find themselves on their own, each taking a journey farther and farther away from his or her family as each searches for truth and personal satisfaction. Neither Chris nor Ellen seems to regret leaving home, but their reasons for fleeing are quite different. Ellen is attempting to escape from her family because she desires love and a stable setting in which there are people to nurture her, while Chris is trying to avoid just that. Ellen's code of ethics places strong value upon family and friends; Chris's, however, spurns human companionship because he seems to feel that it pollutes his relationship with nature and with the one upon whom the course of his life depends the most: that is, himself.

Upon first glance at the character of Ellen Foster,...

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.... He seemed more at home with the harsh elements of nature, which disciplined and taught him like dutiful parents. Even though he died as a result of his journey toward truth and freedom from the fetters of society, Chris was alone with nature, which was his idea of true family.

The nurturing bodies that aid the growth of Ellen Foster and Chris McCandless are complete opposites. Ellen thrives on human love and acceptance, eating it like the sweetest fruit of the shadiest tree, while Chris bathes in snowstorms and nestles into the elements as if he sleeps in a home-sewn quilt. Each character endures a long journey to attain security, but in the end, they both arrive home, where they are free at last.
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