Into the Wild and Walden

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  • Topic: Henry David Thoreau, Into the Wild, Walden
  • Pages : 8 (1394 words )
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  • Published : February 6, 2011
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How Similar But Yet So Different

After reading Walden, by Henry D. Thoreau and watching the movie titled, Into

The Wild, written by Sean Penn, I realized how similar and different both main characters

were. Christopher McCandless, the main actor in the movie and, Henry D. Thoreau, the

author and main character in Walden, share many things in common however, their views

on the world and motives for going on their journeys are very different from one another.

These two men share complex views on life and how one should live that life. They differ

in regards to how they deal with and go about living their lives. Thoreau and McCandles

live their lives doing what they feel makes them happy. McCandless quotes Thoreau and

says, “If you want something in life, reach out and grab it” (sc. 167). Both of their

journeys were beneficial for them and taught them a lot about themselves. Both of these

men went out on a quest to find themselves and give insight into how they define and live

with technology, finding spiritual freedom, the necessities of life, and living life to its

fullest, but it is these similarities shared between the two that they also contrast each other


Both McCandless and Thoreau deal with the advancement of technology in their

journeys. McCandless is the Henry D. Thoreau of the 1990s. What sets him apart from

Thoreau is his view on technology. Thoreau states, “The nation itself, with all its so-

called internal improvements, which, by the way, are all external and superficial…”

(119). This statement is the opposite of McCandless‘ view. McCandless uses the

advancements in technology to get to his final destination of Alaska. McCandless travels

by train, which would have made Thoreau absolutely sick. Thoreau clearly expressed his

discussed for the railroads in Walden. McCandless also relies of cars and trucks as he

hitch hikes across the country. Now in Thoreau’s time there were not these elaborate

highways and cars but Thoreau would not have been happy about this. If Thoreau had a

problem with the railroads in the 1800s then there is no doubt he would have not agreed

with the way McCandless chose to get to Alaska. They both had technology that they

relied on. They both love to read and write. Ink and books were both made from the

advancements in technology over centuries. They also both had tools while out in the

wilderness that they heavily relied on. They both had knives that they used all they time

for cutting and cleaning food. Thoreau had a wheelbarrow and a spade, where as

McCandless had a gun, and a handbook on, what was edible in nature.

McCandless and Thoreau both went in search to find spiritual freedom and escape

society. Thoreau recorded his two year experiment to express what he has learned about

himself and society. McCandless also recorded his escape from society on his two year

journey. They both were out in the wilderness alone for two years as they connected to the

earth spiritually. Unlike McCandless, Thoreau never mentioned problems within his

family in Walden. McCandless had another reason to escape society other than to find

himself, he was escaping the violence and troubles presented in is everyday life at home.

A voiceover of Carine, McCandless sister, comes on and says “Worse yet was that it was

Marcia to whom he was still legally married at the time. And it was Chris and I who were

the bastard children” (sc. 53). This shows how McCandless had so much more to leave

behind than Thoreau did. This scene also give us insight into McCandless’s state of mind

and how much his life at home effected him. Thoreau states, “ I left the woods for as

good of a reason as I went there…I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any

more time for that on” (426). Thoreau’s statement tells us how he just went...
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