Into the Wild: Chris McCandless is a Tragic Hero

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Jon Krakauer, fascinated by a young man in April 1992 who hitchhiked to Alaska and lived alone in the wild for four months before his decomposed body was discovered, writes the story of Christopher McCandless, in his national bestseller: Into the Wild. McCandless was always a unique and intelligent boy who saw the world differently. Into the Wild explores all aspects of McCandless’s life in order to better understand the reason why a smart, social boy, from an upper class family would put himself in extraordinary peril by living off the land in the Alaskan Bush. McCandless represents the true tragic hero that Aristotle defined. Krakauer depicts McCandless as a tragic hero by detailing his unique and perhaps flawed views on society, his final demise in the Alaskan Bush, and his recognition of the truth, to reveal that pure happiness requires sharing it with others.

McCandless’s family and peers expect him to live life a certain way, to follow the family tradition, however, it is McCandless’s high social standards for himself, and his sharp view of right and wrong, that would define the blueprint of his tragic flaw that caused him to go into the wild. In High School, McCandless would start to show some of his radical ideas about how he could help fix society. McCandless’s high school buddies explained that “’ Chris didn’t like going through channels, working within the system.”’ (113) Instead, McCandless would often talk about leaving school to go South Africa to help end the apartheid. When his friends or adults responded by saying that you are only kids, or you can’t make a difference, McCandless would simply respond “so I guess you just don’t care about right and wrong ‘” (113). McCandless would grow to learn that hi...

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...fe for oneself. McCandless primary tragic flaw being his unwillingness to form long-term relations brought him both to the happiest moment of his life, but also to his demise. McCandless never had a problem with people, but rather with the status quo of society, the idea that a man or a woman has to live inside of a coordinate plane. McCandless left home and went on his adventure simply for his own well being, he achieved both what he wanted to accomplish while learning a valuable lesson along the way. He learned that happiness must be shared, and while everyone has his or her flaws, it is important to let these go. Christopher McCandless should teach people the importance of following your dreams, and the importance of enjoying the natural serenity of life.

Works Cited

Krakauer, Jon. Into the Wild. Anchor Books ed. Villard, NY: Random House, 1997. Print.
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