Transcendentalism In Jon Krakauer's Into The Wild

Good Essays
Transcendentalism means to go beyond, and it is something many people have sought after for over a hundred years. People all over strive for something more than just the everyday experience, they want to reach a higher state with new truths and insights, while for others it means to push their whole body beyond its limits, mentally and physically. Many intend to reach this through going out into nature and contemplating the world in its raw and natural state, a place without human interference, where any previous human society near it has been reclaimed by nature. This is what one young man, Chris McCandless wishes to do. Jon Krakauer chronicles this boy’s quest across the country in his book Into The Wild. A quest with the purpose of escaping…show more content…
Chris believes the wilderness is the key to a enlightened way of life, and he has to prove to himself that he can survive in order to reach that state. Gaylord Stuckey drove Chris on part of his journey to Alaska. When being asked about Chris later, Stuckey said, “‘He wanted to prove to himself that he could make it on his own, without anybody else’s help’” (159). To Chris merely being around nature is not enough to help him reach a better stage his life. Chris believes that defeating a challenge is a way to help him reach this state, as being victorious is elating. To Chris, there is no bigger challenge than surviving in nature without anybody else’s help. Also, it is the most prevalent to his situation, as defeating nature would help him realize and appreciate it that much more. That is why Chris is so eager to prove that he can defeat nature, because in his eyes, it is the pinnacle of his achievement. He hopes that defeating nature will help him to understand it more, and see it with more clarity. By doing that Chris believes he will transcend to a new way of living, and a deeper understanding of the world around…show more content…
To Chris the civilized world of the present is toxic, it must be left behind for hopes of achieving transcendentalism. Gaylord Stuckey describes Chris’s hopes before entering the Alaska interior to Jon Krakauer when being interviewed about his encounter with Chris. Stuckey says, “‘He didn’t want to see a single person, no airplanes, no sign of civilization” (159). Chris does not believe it will be possible for him to reach the same type of enlightenment he seeks with human civilization around him. To him this enlightenment must be reached through nature, pure nature. Chris sees human civilization as suffocating, one can never truly escape if any form of it is still around. It ties people down to their world, not letting them be free. Chris also believes his enlightenment will come from solitude, and in his eyes solitude is impossible to find if any piece of civilization is around, because then there is always someone with him in his mind. In order to reach his enlightenment Chris must be alone in his quest, he cannot have too much contact or help from someone, because then he never would have survived on his own in the wilderness. So for Chris to achieve his goal of transcendentalism, he must abandon all civilization in the hopes of finding true wilderness without too much assistance, that is the only way for his great odyssey to
Get Access