Into The Wild


Christopher Johnson McCandless a.k.a. Alexander Supertramp (Alex)

Christopher Johnson McCandless

a.k.a. Alexander Supertramp (Alex)

Christopher McCandless is the protagonist of Into the Wild. Through anecdotes from those who knew Christopher, from his letters and journal entries, and from an examination of his favorite underlined and annotated books, Jon Krakauer pieces together a vivid portrait of a young man who abandoned his privileged lifestyle in the pursuit of raw adventure and experience. McCandless is portrayed as fiercely idealistic, intelligent and well-read, and described by his friends as talkative, musical, ethical, passionate and kind. McCandless emerges as a gifted and memorable person—indeed, people tend to be drawn to him and develop instant affection and concern for him.

Krakauer doesn’t just present the positive aspects of McCandless’s character, however. He also presents evidence that McCandless could be brooding, moody, and impulsive, and that he often harbored dark grudges in silence. Indeed, the secret grudge against his father, Walt, is depicted as a factor in McCandless’s ultimately tragic disappearance. Although McCandless’s rejection of materialism and hypocrisy rings true and there is much that is admirable in his determination to live according to his ideals, the book also suggests that McCandless may have acted at times out of such an intensity of emotion that he lost sight of the big picture. Although McCandless is not portrayed as having a “death wish,” his strict views about the way in which he must survive in the wild prevent him from taking along basic supplies that might have saved his life, such as a decent map of the area. Because of such facts, McCandless has often been criticized as arrogant, as well as selfish for bringing such unnecessary tragedy to his family. Ultimately, Into the Wild invites readers to make their own judgments about McCandless, and to make their own meaning of his story.

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