Table of Contents
‘Into the wild,’ is a book that leaves us with many questions in the end. The main character, Chris McCandless decides to go on a trip to Alaska. Chris did a lot of strange things, only he himself can justify them. Somehow, this trip he wanted so much ended up taking his life. Background information about Chris shows that he came from a rich family that lived in the suburbs of Washington D.C. He had just graduated with honors from Emory before leaving it all behind while looking for adventure. He donated his savings, which amounted to $24000 to OXFAM, which was a stupid thing to do when one is going on an adventure (28). Ironically, he died out of starvation in the end.
Chris starts his adventure by taking his old Datsun, which he abandons barely when the journey began because of flashfloods. He depends on hitch hiking for the rest of his adventure. He hitchhikes all the way to California to Idaho, where he is discovered lying by the roadside by Jan Burres. Chris lives with the couple for sometime before embarking on his journey again. His journey was long; the people he was close to during the journey were Westerberg and Franz. He recorded all events that took place in his diary. He went all the way to Canada; he lived on the streets of San Diego before find an old bus near Lake Sushana, which marked the end of his adventure. He depended on hunting small animals and eating herbs. He documented his life in the bus until his death. Before he died, he wrote the S.O.S note, which was found by the hunters.
The end was tragic, but not to Chris. Which makes us questions his motives. Why would a young man leave behind all that comfort to go and starve to death? The main reason is that Chris wanted to discover his true self. Chris was not content with the idea of being just a boy from a rich family. He believed that belonged to his parents, and he needed to discover his true self. He was not happy with himself, his education, and his social life. He seemed to be isolated, yet he was in a busy and fast world where the young people were pre occupied with superficial things. His journey was to make him discover what he really was and what made him happy. He did not believe that expensive gifts would make him happy. When his father offered to buy him another car, he was furious because he did not see the need for a new car yet he had one already (24). He was tired of the pretense and the lies of the people around him. He said that eventually his parents would have, “bought his respect” because everything was materialistic to them. He believed that the wild would give him time to reflect and figure out the person he wants to be. The wilderness had a certain allure on Chris. He believed that he would be free once he lived in the wild.
Things were not good between Chris and his parents. Chris was tired of having his parents make his decisions. His parents dictated almost everything he did. They told him what to do, what to wear and what to drive. He did not feel like he was really himself. It was like his parents were ashamed of his true identity. His father was authoritative, he was hard to please. His parents were wealthy; they had to live in a society that had constraints. Chris felt that he did not fit in it.
The main character’s personality contributed to his journey to the world. Chris had different personality from other people. He had a weird character; he did not appreciate the traditional values. Most parents are all over their children. It is natural for rich parents to spoil their children, but was drove Chris away from his parents. He had an ascetic personality. He had no interest in making a successful career in law or getting the approval of the people close to him. When he left, he was happy to be away from everyone, which is strange as he said in the excerpt “…relieved that he had again evaded the impending threat of human intimacy, of friendship, and all the messy emotional baggage that comes with it” civilized world did not interest him, the wild allured him. This explains why he took the fatal journey to Alaska. In the book, we see that Chris’ favorite author was Jack London. He read those books that praise nature and the wild. He wondered why people valued civilization over nature. Chris acted on the motivation he got from that literacy. There is a short story from London’s book where a man freezes to death in the wild. This was a foreshadowing what would befall Chris.
The question whether Chris achieved what he was looking for in his journey to the wild depends on the perspective we are looking at it from. He got the freedom he wanted. From his point of view, he got away from the societal and his parent’s constraints. He succeeded in getting what he need, even if it was for a short while. He had eventually lived alone in the wild where the only laws he had to abide by were the nature’s laws. While Chris was on the road, his attitude had changed. He lived a free and happy life with no constraints and responsibilities as shown in his post card to Westerberg, “…The accumulated clutter of day-to-day existence—the lapses of conscience, the unpaid bills, the bungled opportunities, the dust under the couch, the inescapable prison of your genes—all of it is temporarily forgotten” While at home, Chris felt like he did not belong but on the road transformed to a man of the people. At the wild he was his conscience was at its best. The people Chris encountered had good stories about him. They talked of him as a hard working, intelligent, energetic and an idealistic person. Chris’ determination and bravery of doing what he wanted is admirable. He deserves credit for that.
On the other hand, he ended up dead from the whole experience. What is the point of going through all trouble only to die in the end? Chris wanted to find himself, but in the end, the hunters found him dead rotten in a bus. This is an opinion held by the people who believe that he did not succeed in what he was looking for. Those who do not approve of Chris excursion to the wild, argue that he brought his death upon himself. At such a young age, people try to find themselves, but they do not push themselves to such limits. He came from a good family; he had access to everything he needed. He could have taken a normal road trip but he chose to go to Alaska. He was not fully prepared; he only had 10 pounds of rice and little money. Who leaves behind a comfortable life behind to go fight for food with the wolves? He hardly had any survival skills. Chris said that he wanted to; “live off the land for a few months” This makes his journey baseless. He had everything to live off from. How does someone intend to find himself when he is not prepared to survive in that condition?
In the end, Chris got the freedom he wanted. He was happy, but he was in isolation. He finally realized that one can never be really happy without being close to the people who care about him. By the time he realized that, it was too late for him. This point shows that he did not really succeed in his mission. His trip was a selfish move, considering he did not tell anyone from his family. He changed his identity, which shows that he wanted to cut all ties with his family. He had issues with his parents, but he and his sister were close. He should have been considerate for that. This makes the whole mission a flop; he had a skewed way of thinking. Maybe there was nothing to prove from the whole journey.
Three words newly encountered
Hitchhikes – a means though which an individual obtains transportation through other’s means i.e. caravans or vehicles
Sentence: John hitchhiked when he was needed in the office and there were no public transport
Ascetic personality – a lifestyle in which a person foregoes comfort to live a disciplined life
Sentence – My uncle, who had undergone the army training and faced much turmoil, leads a ascetic personality