Into the Wild
Reading selection for this module:
Krakauer, Jon, Into the Wild. Doubleday: New York, 1996.
All work to be done in the “Notebook”
Activity 1: Getting Ready to Read
Into the Wild is a nonfiction, full-length text by Jon Krakauer. Published in 1996, it is based on an article Krakauer wrote in Outside Magazine about Christopher McCandless, a young college graduate who went off to Alaska and died in the woods. Because Krakauer’s article drew a huge amount of mail to the magazine, he decided to write a book about this interesting character. He’s a young, idealistic guy who forms a life philosophy based on his experience and his reading in college. His idealism, ironically, leads to his death by starvation. He makes choices that seem foolish as we look at them now. But McCandless genuinely loved the outdoors and wanted to live in the world without all the trappings of money and his middle-class upbringing. Into the Wild is, in a way, a mystery story. We’re unsure as to why he rejects his family, why he’s so angry with them, and why he chooses to head for Alaska. Quickwrite:
Think about your experience hiking, backpacking, and/or existing in the wild. What are the benefits of any one of these activities?
Think about some alternative plans you might have to beginning college immediately after high school. What might you do? Why would you do it, and for how long could you see yourself doing that activity?
Think about an experience you have had when you were alone and made some misjudgments that could have led to disaster but didn’t (it doesn’t have to be in the outdoors). What miscalculations did you make and how did you avert disaster?
Activity 2: Introducing Key Concepts
We know about characters from their actions, their thoughts, what they say, their appearance, and what others say about them. This book explores a character, Chris McCandless, and the actions he takes. Before reading about him, complete this pre-reading activity. Read the scenarios below and use specific words to describe the character in the scenario. In groups, you will compare your lists, then turn in your finalized list of descriptive words to your teacher. Mary was from the Valley. She used the word “like” in front of most of her adjectives when she spoke and talked quite a bit. On her 16th birthday she expected to get a car. It was a given. Her friends thought she would get a pink Maserati, but she was sure her parents would buy her the candy-apple red Alfa Romeo. The day of her birthday came, and as she peered out her bedroom window, she noticed a new car in the driveway, but it was yellow—surely not hers. She thought it may have been the new cleaning woman’s. She did not see any other car in the long driveway. She ran down to get a closer look. It was a new canary-colored convertible Volkswagen bug. On the front driver’s-side seat was a birthday note to her. She burst into tears and ran into the house. Words to describe Mary: ________________________________________________ Vandana had a comfortable life. Not unlike her friends, Vandana had gone to school and done well and soon was to attend the university. She had received several scholarships and her parents had planned to pay the rest for her education. Vandana hoped to help people in her future career, but hadn’t quite decided in which field she wanted to do this. She decided to take a year off before attending college. Her parents refused her this. She worked hard the summer before she was to go to college, and made enough money for a one way ticket to India. She had been interested in the life of Buddha and wanted to learn more about him. Leaving a note for her parents, she headed off to India, in hopes of discovering a spiritual and centered path for herself. Words to describe Vandana: _____________________________________________ Emory was very popular and made friends easily. People were drawn to his honest nature and...
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