Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, Jon Krakauer’s Into The Wild, and Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man

Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, Jon Krakauer’s Into The Wild, and Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man

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Earth is a planet filled with upwards of seven billion people. Most will only meet one hundred thousand, and many will not meet even that many. Each and every one of those people have their own life experiences, and each and every one of those experiences are valuable sources of information. When making decisions, it is incredibly important to consider these experiences. Simply disregarding them all is selfish, idiotic, and deadly.

Christopher McCandless made the decision in April of 1992 to venture into the Alaskan wilderness, inspired by the Transcendentalist works of Henry David Thoreau, along with the works of other authors. This decision was made without consulting anyone, and this decision famously ended with McCandless’ death months later. For most people, the idea of living in the secluded Alaskan wilds without any means of communication or navigation is a sign of mental illness. When McCandless made this decision, he effectively ignored the opinions of thousands of people, and decided that his views were somehow more valid. This ideology of “a challenge in which a successful outcome is assured isn't a challenge at all” led to McCandless embarking on a challenge in which a successful outcome was not only not assured, but simply not possible (Krakauer 182). Had McCandless talked to anyone, literally anyone at all, he would’ve been told that this plan was a suicide mission. This shows that the opinions of the general population can be lifesaving.

A similar ideological trait is found in Timothy Treadwell, commonly known as the “Grizzly Man.” Treadwell spent many years of his life living with grizzly bears for months on end in Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Each summer, Treadwell would record his...


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... they would overwhelmingly tell him that his idea was life-threateningly idiotic. If Treadwell told the modern population, they would be convinced he was mentally unhinged. This shows that it is vital to consider the views and experiences of the other seven billion people on Earth when making a life-changing decision. Had McCandless and Treadwell done this, they would most likely still be alive. At the very least, they would’ve been more aware of the improbability of their survival. After all, it is much more likely that one man is wrong than it is for seven billion people to be wrong.




Works Cited

Grizzly Man. Dir. Werner Herzog. Lions Gate, 2005. DVD.
Krakauer, Jon. Into the Wild. New York: Anchor, 1997. Print.
Thoreau, Henry David. Walden: Or, Life in the Woods: And, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience. New York: New American Library, 1960. Print.

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Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, Jon Krakauer’s Into The Wild, and Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man

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