Title: Into the Wild
Author: Jon Krakauer
Publisher: Anchor Books
Genre: Biography, Travel, Adventure
First Publication: 1996
Major Characters: Christopher McCandless
Setting Place: Alaska, South Dakota, the American Southwest, and Mexico.
Theme: The American Wilderness, Risk and Self-Reinvention, Arrogance, Innocence, and Ignorance, Luck, Chance, and Circumstance, Materialism and Idealism, Isolation v. Intimacy
Narrator: Jon Krakauer reports from a third person perspective and occasionally the first person.
Book Summary: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
In April, 1992, a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself.
Four months later, a party of moose hunters found his decomposed body. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.
Immediately after graduating from college in 1991, McCandless had roamed through the West and Southwest on a vision quest like those made by his heroes Jack London and John Muir. In the Mojave Desert he abandoned his car, stripped it of its license plates, and burned all of his cash.
He would give himself a new name, Alexander Supertramp, and, unencumbered by money and belongings, he would be free to wallow in the raw, unfiltered experiences that nature presented. Craving a blank spot on the map, McCandless simply threw away the maps. Leaving behind his desperate parents and sister, he vanished into the wild.
Book Review: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer is a non-fiction account of the life of Christopher McCandless, a young man who, upon graduating from college in 1990, gave away all his money and took up a life of wandering the country, mostly in the western and southwestern states. In 1992 he went to Alaska, headed into the wilderness, and died there a few months later just north of Denali National Park.
“It’s not always necessary to be strong, but to feel strong.”
McCandless came from a wealthy family in Washington, DC, but had strong ideals about communing with nature, living a life where everything you owned could be fit on your back, and finding one’s true self. Therefore, when he finished with college at Emory University, he cut himself off from his parents, donated the remainder of his college money to Oxfam ($24,000), and took to the road. He eventually abandoned his car, and took to hitchhiking and riding freight trains to get around the country. He became one of America’s itinerants.
“Some people feel like they don’t deserve love. They walk away quietly into empty spaces, trying to close the gaps of the past.”
Eventually, in his pursuit to become one with nature and make meaning of his life, he decides to have one “final adventure” in the Alaskan bush. Chris McCandless goes “into the wild” (hence the name of the book) intending to live off the land. What ends up happening is that he starves to death.
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer presents a chronicle of these two years of Chris McCandless’s life, from the time he left Emory University until his death. Krakauer has taken the time to find and interview many of the people that McCandless stayed with during that time, and the book is peppered with entries from Chris’s journal and passages in books that he underlined and annotated (books by Tolstoy, Thoreau, and others like them).
“When you forgive, you love. And when you love, God’s light shines upon you.”
The author, with his own background of travels takes us on trip to discover the inner workings, not only of McCandless, but of other people like him. People who crave travel, do not care too much about societal norms – or perhaps cannot relate to them and instead march to their own drum.