Essay on Into the Wild

Essay on Into the Wild

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In April of 1992 a young man named Chris McCandless, from a prosperous and loving family, hitchhiked across the country to Alaska. He gave $25,000 of his savings to charity, left his car and nearly all of his possessions. He burned all the cash he had in his wallet, and created a new life. Four months later, his body was found in an abandoned bus. Jon Krakauer constructed a journalistic account of McCandless’s story. Bordering on obsession, Krakauer looks for the clues to the mystery that is Chris McCandless. What he finds is the intense pull of the wilderness on our imagination, the appeal of high-risk activities to young men. When McCandless's mistakes turn out to be fatal he is dismissed for his naiveté. He was said by some to have a death wish, but wanting to die and wanting to see what one is capable of are too very different things. I began to ask myself if Chris really wasn’t as crazy as some people thought. Then I realized it was quite possible that the reason people thought he was crazy was because he had died trying to fulfill his dream. If he had walked away from his adventure like Krakauer, people would have praised him rather than ridicule. So I asked the question, “How does Krakauer’s life parallel Chris McCandlesses?”
Chris and Jon’s life have many parallels and contrasts at the same time. Both gave up most of their possessions to go after a dream they had. Ones dream was to live off the land in the remote regions of Alaska, the other too climb the Devils Thumb, a mountain peak that had never been scaled by man. Each man was aware of the risks, but were they equally prepared when each began their own adventure? I feel that Chris McCandless was at a disadvantage when he first started off. Raised by a wealthy family and just graduating from Emory University I feel he wasn’t as prepared as he could have been. Fortunately his father had taken him on hiking trips so he was at least somewhat familiar with the wilderness but in no way was he prepared at all for the severity of the Alaskan wilderness. I think it would have been quite a feat just for Chris to have been able to live off the land in a local forest. To be fair to Chris I’m sure Krakauer didn’t start off by just one day deciding he would climb the Devils Thumb after he was inspired by making it up the climbing wall at the local county fair. Both men had to gradually work their way up to a...


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...s, the men of the wild frontier” (Wayne 1). This drive, this manifest destiny, “the great pressure of people moving always to new frontiers, in search of new lands, new power, the full freedom of a virgin world, has ruled our course and formed our polices lake a Fate,” (Weinberg 1) is what compelled Jon and Chris to go against the grain of society and follow their dreams. With fewer and fewer “New Frontiers” these two were forced to resort to one of the last unconquered regions of the world, Alaska. It was there that they faced their fears and overcame hardships to succeed.
In conclusion I think that one of the reasons Krakauer decided to write about Chris McCandless is the fact that he found so many disturbing coincidences about his own life that he felt obligated to tell Chris’s story. I think it is quite possible Jon feels guilty about having survived when Chris died. Either way, I think both men were success full even though they both had very different goals and outcomes.

Works Cited

Outdoorclub. 01 Mar. 2005
.

Wayne, Bennett. Men of the Wild Frontier. Champaign: Garrard Publishing
Company, 1968.

Weinberg, Albert. manifest Destiny. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press,
1935.

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