Literary Analysis of Into the Wild

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Literary Analysis of Into The Wild

Imagine spending thirty days alone in a tent or a cabin in the wilderness with no technology, electricity, running water, and any form of communication. Every day you wake up to the sight of the beautiful, tall trees and the various wildlife living in the area. Most of the time, you can hear the many sounds of nature: the majestic songs of birds, the whistling in the wind, and trees rustling. But sometimes all you can hear is nothing but silence. Most of us would not be able to do this and we would most likely want to be anywhere but here. Not many people will experience living in the wilderness, but for those who have will have memories to treasure forever. Among those people who would choose this way of living is Chris McCandless.

Jon Krakauer's novel "Into The Wild," Krakauer attempts to recreate and tell the story of Chris McCandless's journey to Alaska. Unfortunately, because of McCandless's untimely death in the Alaskan wilderness, there are many mysteries that will be left unanswered such as his decision to go there. There are many speculations regarding the causes for McCandless's journey because there is no valid proof. Even the author Krakauer forms his own theory. He accurately hypothesizes "youthful derring-do" (182) as a motive for McCandless's "Alaskan odyssey" (157); in addition, the transcendentalist ideas—escapism, simplicitism, nonconformity, and spiritual connection—McCandless internalized from the literature he read fused with his animosity towards his parents compelled him to venture "into the wild" (134).

Krakauer correctly attributes McCandless's youth and risk-taking personality as one of the driving forces in his journey. Since he was young, he enjoyed a life of adventure and action. According to the article "This Is Your Brain on Adventure" by Florence Williams, risk takers have "three major emotional ingredients: desire for adventure, relative disregard for harm, [and] impulsivity." These assertions are persuasive because McCandless possess all these characteristics and he demonstrates them throughout the book. In "Detrital Wash," Krakauer describes McCandless's adventure throughout the United States and Mexico. While he was in Arizona, he impulsively buys a secondhand aluminum canoe so that he can paddle "down the Colorado River to the Gulf of California" (Krakauer 32). Later, McCandless was "strirred by the austerity" of Colorado's landscape and he ignored warning signs that he was about to enter the "U.S. Army's highly restricted Yuma Proving Ground" (Krakauer 33). Williams's statement proves Krakauer's idea that "youth derring-do" was the reason for McCandless's journey.

McCandless read many works of literature including those written by Leo Tolstoy, Henry David Thoreau, and Jack London. As a result, he adopted their beliefs as his own, especially the transcendentalist ideas of Henry David Thoreau. Chris McCandless's journey is largely driven by the transcendentalist ideas: escapism, nonconformity, simplicitism, and spiritual connection. It was proven by Krakauer that he does not like to get too close to people and he always wants to get away from them. As Krakauer points out:

McCandless was thrilled to be on his way north, and he was relieved as well--relieved that he had again evaded the impending threat of human intimacy, of friendship, and all the messy emotional baggage that comes with it. he had fled the claustrophobic confines of his family. He'd successfully kept Jan Burress and Wayne Westerberg at arm's length, flitting out of their lives before anything was expected of him. And now he'd slipped painlessly out of Ron Franz's life as well. (Krakauer 55). This statement implies that McCandless has problems with intimacy. During his long and fatal adventure he does not contact his closest family and friend, his sister Carine. Although he met many people along the way, he always kept a certain distance. He feared the responsibilities...
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