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Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer: An Critical Analysis of Chapters 1-18

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The book “In the wild” is an entertaining tale that covers the life of a young man Chris McCandless. Chris is not pleased with materialism and starvation. He considers his father not to be an ideal man that fits him. At first, we are convinced that Chris is a hero who overcomes all odds to start his life independently. However, McCandless does not strive at overcoming all odds other than finding an easy way of doings things; he cuts off real relationships with his family and relatives(Krakauer, 2011). This paper reviews the book “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer, in particular, chapter 1-18.

“Into The Wild” Analysis

I find the book “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer entertaining and interesting to learn. The book displays Chris McCandless as a hero and a courageous man who flies in the face of things he grew up with and finds a better way. In chapter 1, the main fact standing out from the chapter is McCandless’s independence in which he cuts off links with his family and renames himself as Alexander Supertramp. This shows that McCandless is no longer interested in his family and wants to start his new beginning.

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However, my question is whether McCandless used the name Alexander Supertramp as a way of honoring the great Alexander, who conquered vast territories or he chooses the name coincidently. With the encounter with Jim Gallien, Gallien thinks McCandless is another delusional visitor to the Alaskan frontier” though he later discovers McCandless to be intelligent and thoughtful. I think in this chapter; I can describe McCandless as a hero who does things his way.

In chapter 2,3 and 4, the main fact standing out from the chapters is starvation and hunger. In Chapter 2 after the discovery of McCandless’s body, the body is merely 67 pounds and hunger is believed to be the cause of his death. In chapter 3, McCandless gives $24,000 he received to the OXFAM America, which is an organization that fights hunger and starvation.

McCandless writes to his parents at his graduation that “I think I’m going to disappear for a mile” only to die later of hunger. In Chapter 4, we are told that McCandless lived on nothing other than “five pounds of rice and what marine life he could pull from the sea.” The main question from these chapters is whether McCandless ever thought of his family or desire to go back home. From these chapters, I describe McCandless as a foolish person who cuts real relationships to find an easy way only to die later, just because of starvation.

In chapter 5,6 and 7, the fact standing from the chapters is McCandless’s foolishness. In chapter 5, McCandless performs a foolish act of ruining his camera and burying it in the desert. He also writes to his friends Jan Burres and Bob that he stopped working because he was tired of working with “plastic people.” His foolishness is evident in chapter 7 in which he rejects Ronald Franz’s advice to abandon the encampment which Franz believes is a bad influence. McCandless says “I have a college education; I’m living like this by choice.”

Lastly in chapter 7, McCandless writes that “I’m going to divorce my parents once and for all and never speak to either of those stupid idiots again as I live.” From these chapters, however, the question is why McCandless chooses to suffer and do things independently, yet there are friends around him such as Ronald Franz, who are willing to assist him. The main character in these chapters is McCandless, whom again in one word can describe as a fool.

Jon Krakauer presents the noteworthiness and newsworthiness of disappearance into the desert to be covered in articles.

In chapter 8, it is the McCandless story’s that is covered in the Outside magazine. In chapter 9, the story published is of Everett Reuss, who also disappeared in the America Southwest desert in the 1930s. Everett says that “I want to live more intensely and richly” and this is the reason he goes into the wilderness. Chapter 10 again presents the coverage of McCandless’s death in the “Anchorage Daily News”.

These chapters present that the disappearance into the desert is worth to be covered not only in Alaska but also in the national press. However, my question from these chapters is why a person can enter into the wilderness where life is unpredictable at the expense of his/her life. The main characters in these chapters are McCandless, and Everett Reuss, whom I think are in one word, independent.

The chapters 11, 12, 13 and 14 tend to cover McCandless’s character of liking fun, enjoyable and entertainment. In chapter 11, we are told that McCandless’s family liked traveling, and this could have contributed to McCandless’s fan liking behavior. The same continues to be explained in chapter 12 in which McCandless went for a trip the summer before his freshman year of college. In his trips and being far from home, he never communicated for a long time, something that made his family worry about his safety. For instance, in chapter 12, we are told her mother at one midnight woke up, certain that she had heard McCandless begging; “Mom! help me!”.

McCandless’s death can be attributed to his long trip to Alaska and as seen in chapter 13, her mother Billie is “weeping” and considers the loss to be “so huge.” The chapter 14 present Jon Krakauer’s similarity with McCandless’s fan liking behavior, in which here Jon Krakauer climbs a Stikine ice cap. From these chapters, my question is whether McCandless’s family if it had intervened, could have altered his behavior and thus change his fate. Overly, from these chapters, McCandless is presented to be adventurous.

In Chapter 15, Jon Krakauer describes thoughts he believed he shared with McCandless when he was young. For instance, he mentions that “when I decided to go Alaska, that April, like McCandless, I was a raw youth who mistook passion for insight.” This is suggestive of thoughts youths possess when they hit a certain age bracket. After going through the chapter, the question that rings in my mind is whether his father or family contributed to his desire of going to Alaska. I think Jon Krakauer is crafty just like McCandless.

The main fact in chapter 16 is the interior of Alaska that describes McCandless’ climatic Alaska adventure. As presented in the chapter, McCandless did not prepare well for his life in the wilderness and lacked simple navigation instruments like the map. Jon Krakauer describes McCandless’s ignorance of the river; “McCandless does not know because he refused to obtain a map of the area”. However, although the river can be crossed one mile upstream, I can’t picture of the river passage in terms of its size because the author does not give its measurements. The main character in this chapter is McCandless, who is displayed to be adventurous.

Chapter 17 cover the Stampede trail. It overly covers McCandless’s experience with Teklanika River and the hostile environment he experienced during his stay in Alaska which Jon Krakauer doubts whether it was wilderness. Jon Krakauer mentions; did McCandless go “into the wild” and considers the environment not to be wilderness at all. Jon Krakauer appears to a sadist who ridicules McCandless’s stay in the hostile environment and thinks the area did not deserve to be labeled wilderness.

The major concept standing out in chapter 18 is McCandless’s death which is likened to starvation. However, Jon Krakauer mentions that it may not be starvation that killed McCandless, but arrogance and shortsightedness could have been the reasons. Covered in McCandless’s writing is “happiness only real when shared”, which attracts the question whether he ultimately forgave his family. To some degree, I think McCandless is unforgiving since, in all his writings, he does acknowledge his family even with a simple goodbye. In conclusion, I find the book “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer educative; therefore, I recommend it to be used by individuals studying classic literature especially when analyzing McCandless’s life.

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