What is transcendentalism? How is Christopher J. McCandless a transcendentalist? Transcendentalism is a philosophy, and a way of life. It consists of being a non-conformist, becoming one with nature, and rejecting materialism. Throughout Jon Krakauer’s novel, Into The Wild, McCandless happens to achieve all of the above. “Whoso would be a man, must be a non-conformist” (Emerson). He defied society, lived in the wild, and never cared about “things”. He existed off the land in Alaska, the west coast, and even Mexico. McCandless did not want anything else in life but happiness; he found this in the wilderness.
As Emerson states in Self-Reliance, “society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of ever one of its members.” Conforming to society means to not be true to oneself. McCandless thought that conforming to society would make him another robot citizen. He believed in having his own opinion, being original, and living how he wanted to. He proved this by “wandering across North America in search of raw, transcendent experience” (Krakauer authors note). This describes the adventure of his life, what he wanted, and what his plans were. Nobody knew Chris had planned on this. During his time working at McDonalds, McCandless also refused to wear socks. The assistant manager, George Dreeszen, even says that Chris “just plain couldn’t stand to wear socks” (40). McCandless did not care what people criticize him for, he did what he wanted to do, not what others told him was proper. In fact, as soon as he was done work he would immediately take his socks off. Another way McCandless proves to being a non-conformist is by living in the Slabs. Anybody could live in the Slabs, “the retired, the exiled, the destitute, the perpetually unemployed. Its constituents are men and women and children of all ages…the middle-class grind” (43). Any type and every type of person lived in the Slabs. Chris felt accepted here,...
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