Into the Wild (Ch. 8-Epilogue)
Analyzing Stylistic Choices
Analyzing Stylistic Choices helps you see the linguistic and rhetorical choices writers make to inform or convince readers.
Precise writers make linguistic choices to create certain effects. They want to have their readers react in a certain way. Go back through the text and analyze Krakauer’s use of words, sentences, and paragraphs, and take note as to how effective a writer he is.
Analyzing Chapters 8–10
In the first part of Chapter 8, Krakauer quotes Alaskans who had opinions about McCandless and his death.
1. Why does Krakauer cite these letters? How does citing them add to or detract from the text?
2. Choose one of these letters, and respond to it, explaining the degree to which you agree or disagree.
Krakauer inserts himself into the story in Chapter 8.
3. Does this give him more credibility?
4. Do you find this annoying? Why or why not?
Analyzing Chapters 11–13
A few pages into Chapter 13, Krakauer describes McCandless’s sister’s behavior when she was told about her brother’s death.
5. Why does he use the word “keening” instead of crying?
6. What are the denotations and connotations of this word? What is its history?
Reread aloud the next-to-last paragraph in Chapter 13, where Krakauer powerfully describes Billie’s grief.
7. Rephrase the paragraph and simplify it in your own words.
8. What makes Krakauer’s description (quoted below) powerful? “It is all she can do to force herself to examine the fuzzy snapshots. As she studies the pictures, she breaks down from time to time, weeping as only a mother who has outlived a child can weep, betraying a sense of loss so huge and irreparable that the mind balks at taking its measure.
“Such bereavement, witnessed at close range, makes even the most eloquent apologies for high-risk activities ring fatuous and hollow.”
Analyzing Chapters 14 and 15
Krakauer uses technical vocabulary related to mountain climbing in these two chapters. Investigate the meaning technical words you don’t know. What is the effect of these words on the reader?
Summarizing and Responding
Chapters 1-7 describe McCandless’s journey and death. Chapters 8-15 try to put McCandless’s life in a larger context by comparing him to other people: other wanderers, his family, and the author of the book. Look over your notes and annotations and answer the following questions. Write your answers in your notebook:
1. How does McCandless compare with the other wanderers Krakauer describes? In what ways is McCandless similar? In what ways is he different? Do we understand McCandless better after making these comparisons?
2. Krakauer and others have speculated that McCandless was estranged from his family because of his relationship with his father. What was his family life like? Does it explain his later behavior?
3. Krakauer clearly feels a strong connection to McCandless. Do you think they were very similar? Why or why not? In what ways is this book as much about Krakauer as it is about McCandless?
4. Taking your notes and your answers to the above questions into account, write a short paragraph answering the following question: Who was Chris McCandless?
Rhetorical appeals are the accepted ways in which we persuade or argue a case. The following questions will move you through more traditional rhetorical appeals. By focusing on appeals to the writer, to emotion, and to logic, you will be able to discover how Krakauer has persuaded us and how you can use these techniques to persuade others when you write or speak.
Questions about Logic (Logos)
1. Krakauer summarizes the response to his article by saying, “The prevailing Alaska wisdom held that McCandless was simply one more dreamy half-cocked greenhorn who went into the country expecting to find answers to all his problems and instead found only...
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