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Chris Mccandless: Respected Or Undeserving?

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Imagine if someone you knew had disappeared, seemingly off the face of the Earth, only to be heard from when the remains of their body had appeared and your family was finally informed. Chris McCandless’s story had drawn national attention, followed by lots of unwelcomed opinions, both good and bad. The story of Chris McCandless had caught the attention of Jon Krakauer, a man who decided to retrace the footprints of Chris to find out the truth of what had really happened to him. Jon Krakauer strategically utilizes powerful anecdotes and exposes the reader’s pathological senses to create a story that encourages the reader to feel remorse for McCandless and his family. The anecdotes within the story strongly characterize Chris McCandless as an exceptionally smart child with a rebellious side to him. Krakauer records the conversation where Walt Krakauer reminisced Chris’s high school years, recording, “Chris was a high achiever in almost everything that caught his fancy. Academically he brought home A’s with little effort”.

Understanding Chris’s academic success presents the reader with no choice but to presume that he had a bright future ahead of him. This information draws pity from the readers and touches pathological senses; Chris McCandless was an intelligent child whom could have benefited society in the future, but hadn’t been alive long enough to reach his full potential. Chris’s mother, Wilhelmina Johnson, also recalls, “In the third grade, after receiving a high score on a standardized achievement test, Chris was placed in an accelerated program for gifted students”. This information makes the reader feel pity for Chris, an intelligent child whose life was short-lived, hadn’t been given the opportunity to grow upon his natural skills and benefit from them. The grief the family felt for losing such a loved member of their family leaves the reader feeling sympathetic for the McCandless’s family’s hardships.

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Krakauer’s writing style also contributes to his conspicuous point of view. Krakauer utilizes the reader’s pathological senses by exposing McCandless’s open kindness and sorrowful death. Eric Hathaway, a teammate of Chris’s from the cross country team, recollected a time where Chris had taken his money and used it to benefit the needy. Krakauer documents Hathaway’s account, who comments, “So he spent the ten bucks on a big bag of hamburgers and we drove around handing them out to smelly guys sleeping on grates”. Chris is shown spending one of his Friday nights feeding the homeless rather than partaking in a Georgetown party, indirectly disclosing his concern for the needy and presenting a rather sensitive side to him.

McCandless’s actions are further admired by the reader because naturally, people enjoy having fun at the end of the week; instead, Chris McCandless sacrificed his night to help others. Our pathological senses are also drawn out when we hear of McCandless’s death. Krakauer had found the true cause of McCandless’s death, confirming that the poisonous berries consumed by McCandless were a simple mistake. Krakauer observes, “The book advises only that the roots of the wild potato are edible. Although it says nothing about the seeds of the species being edible, it also says nothing about the seeds being toxic…Depending on the time of year, it would not be uncommon for a plant with edible roots to have poisonous seeds”.

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