Into The Wild


Plot Summary

In Into the Wild, journalist Jon Krakauer reconstructs the last two years in the life of Christopher McCandless, a young man who died of starvation in the Alaskan wilderness in 1992. Because Krakauer pieces together a narrative from letters, postcards, interviews and hypotheses, the story of McCandless is not presented in chronological order. The following summary reflects the chronological order of events in the life of McCandless as researched by Krakauer, rather than the order in which information is revealed in the book itself.

Christopher Johnson McCandless, whose parents run a thriving business in the development of advanced radar systems, grows up in Annandale, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. In May 1990, McCandless graduates from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. At the graduation, he tells his parents that he intends to travel around the country for the summer in his beloved, old yellow Datsun, but that he will visit them in Virginia before the end of the summer. In June, McCandless sends his parents a copy of his final college transcript, along with a short note. He never makes the promised visit home, and this is the last communication that McCandless’s family will ever receive from him. In early July, McCandless arrives in Nevada, where he drives his car into the desert. After a flash flood, he is unable to start the car. He burns all of the cash in his wallet and abandons the Datsun, leaving the desert on foot and carrying his backpack.

McCandless hitchhikes to Lake Tahoe in California. Throughout July and August he hikes through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, into the Cascade Mountains, over the Columbia River basin and into the Idaho Panhandle. He is picked up by a couple of fellow travelers, Jan Burres and her boyfriend Bob. The two form a friendship with McCandless, and he stays in touch with them through postcards. McCandless is also befriended by Wayne Westerberg in a small Montana town. Westerberg is a grain elevator operator in his thirties whom McCandless greatly admires and with whom he remains in contact through...

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