Into The Wild


Key Quotes

1. He was an extremely intense young man and possessed a streak of stubborn idealism that did not mesh readily with modern existence. Long captivated by the writing of Leo Tolstoy, McCandless particularly admired how the great novelist had forsaken a life of wealth and privilege to wander among the destitute. In college McCandless began emulating Tolstoy’s asceticism and moral rigor to a degree that first astonished, and then alarmed, those who were close to him. When the boy headed off into the Alaska bush, he entertained no illusions that he was trekking into a land of milk and honey; peril, adversity, and Tolstoyan renunciation were precisely what he was seeking. And that is what he found, in abundance…For most of the sixteen-week ordeal, nevertheless, McCandless more than held his own. Indeed, were it not for one or two seemingly insignificant blunders, he would have walked out of the woods in August 1992 as anonymously as he had walked into them in April.

In this passage from Krakauer’s Author’s Note, he clearly states his own personal take on McCandless’s reasons for disappearing into the Alaskan wilderness. Unlike many of those who have responded to McCandless’s story, Krakauer clearly does not believe that McCandless was acting out of arrogance, mental instability, or a suicidal desire. Rather, he portrays McCandless as a deeply idealistic young man who, almost heroically, wanted to live his life in accordance with his beliefs. Also, unlike many other experienced outdoorspeople and Alaskans familiar with the rigors of bush life, Krakauer does not attribute McCandeless’s death to a delusional lack of regard for the harsh realities of the Alaskan wild, nor to mere stupidity. Krakauer asserts that McCandless knew exactly what he was getting into, and attributes the young man’s failure to emerge from his adventure to only “one or two seemingly insignificant blunders.” When reading Into the Wild, it is important to understand that Krakauer does not pretend to be an “impartial...

Sign up to continue reading Key Quotes >

Essays About Into The Wild