Into the Wild

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Matthew Nguyen
H GHI American Lit. (2)
Mr. Wolf
7 December 2012
Family: Blood is More Complicated than Water
Family is not only what brings one into the world but is much, much more. Family has an immense power in the life of an individual, they shape, mold, and influence the way in which an individual grows into an adult. There is the saying that ‘blood is thicker than water’ meaning that blood relatives: parents, brothers or sisters, aunt or uncles will be there when friends or acquaintances will not. This idea that family is the only real and reliable source in one’s life also ties into the fact these people should be held close and respected. Even so, in the book, Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, the main character, Chris McCandless and his father Walt have a seriously strained relationship. Neither is their relationship one of simple issues, it is a relationship based off of complications, misunderstandings and secrecy to some degree. Another example of this strained relationship with parents comes with the punk rockers, such as Jim Lindberg, who were featured in the film, The Other “F” Word. In this film men of the punk sub-culture discuss their relationships with their fathers, or lack of for that matter, and in turn connect their complicated father-son relationships to their need to find movement like that of the punks to fit into. Walt and Chris did not have the best relationship; in fact, the two regularly held clashing views on subjects such as the idea of success. The strained and complicated relationship between Chris and his father led him to live a life of non-conformity in an attempt to fill a void in his understanding of himself that was left by the lack of mutual growth with his father and the silent rejection of his father’s influence and molding. Similarly, Lindberg was drawn towards his respective non-conformist subculture, the Punks, in order to fill in the missing experiences of acceptance and family in his life.

Fathers and sons usually share similar views however, in the case of Walt McCandless and his son, Chris, their life values and personal priorities differed and this became a large factor in the cause of their strained relationship. Towards the middle of the story, Krakauer begins to delve into Chris’ reasoning for resenting his father in which he says, “After Chris unearthed the particulars of Walt’s divorce, two years passed before his anger began to leak to the surface, but leak it eventually did. The boy could not pardon the mistakes his father had made as a young man, and he was even less willing to pardon the attempt at concealment. He later declared to Carine and others Walt and Billie’s deception made his ‘entire childhood seem like a fiction’ “ (Krakauer 122-123). This is a demonstration of the largest complication of the relationship between Walt and his son. In this instance, Walt bore Chris with a second woman, Billie, whilst still being married to his first wife. This caused a boiling anger in Chris and really shines light on how there is a possibility that Walt was a bit careless with his children. Even so, it is also a possibility that Walt could have just been protecting his child from the truth and this shows the two sides of Walt that are eventually revealed in the book. On one hand, Walt is contrasting and difficult with others and on the other hand he is understanding and a bit sympathetic towards his family at time. Another example of Walt’s apparent conflicting personalities comes as the author is describing Walt and his son’s leaving’s affect on him in which he says “Walt is accustomed to calling the shots. Taking control is something he does unconsciously, reflexively… When Walt talks, people listen... After Chris gave everybody the slip in 1990, something changed in Walt. His son’s disappearance scared and chastened him. A softer, more tolerant side of his personality came to the fore” (Krakauer 105). Walt is portrayed as a stern, stubborn, a possibly even...
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