Into The Wild


Chapter 8 to Chapter 9

Chapter 8 Summary

In this chapter, Krakauer quotes from some of the letters he received after his original article about McCandless was published in Outside magazine. The article generated more reader response than any in the magazine’s history, and much of the reader feedback is critical of both McCandless and Jon Krakauer. Some readers perceive McCandless as selfish: “Why would any son cause his parents and family such permanent and perplexing pain?” Others suggest that McCandless was mentally ill: “Krakauer is a kook if he doesn’t think… McCandless was a kook. McCandless had already gone over the edge and just happened to hit bottom in Alaska.” Some responses accuse McCandless of arrogance: “His ignorance, which could have been cured by a USGS quadrant and a Boy Scout manual, is what killed him. Such willful ignorance… amounts to disrespect for the land, and paradoxically demonstrates the same sort of arrogance that resulted in the Exxon Valdez spill—just another case of underprepared, over-confident men bumbling around out there and screwing up because they lacked the requisite humility.”

In an effort to shed light on McCandless’s reasons for doing what he did, Krakauer relates the stories of three other men who attempted to live off the land in the unforgiving Alaskan wilderness. The first is Gene Rosellini, whom Krakauer himself briefly encountered in 1981. Rosellini, the son of a wealthy Seattle restaurateur, was a brilliant student and martial arts expert. In 1977, he set out to discover whether it was possible to live entirely without technology or civilization. For more than ten years he lived in the Alaskan wilderness hunting and foraging for food, using only primitive, Neolithic tools. He ultimately concluded that “it is not possible for human beings as we know them to live off the land.” At age forty-nine, he announced his new plan to walk around the world, hoping to cover 18 to 27 miles per day on foot, every day of the year. Soon after,...

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Essays About Into The Wild