So a man walks into the Alaskan Wilderness…

In Movies on August 1, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Okay, so that’s a pretty bad joke, because well there is no punchline and it just isn’t plain funny. Much like this poor joke, Into The Wild, is anything but funny. It is a very serious well written story about Chris McCandless who decides to abscond to the Alaskan wilderness because, well he is just plain sick of society. After taking many trips across the country and seeing what this great ol’ America has to offer, McCandless decides that he wants to do something other than what has been destined for him, by his parents.  This not only pushes him over the edge, but his personality, a truth left unsaid by his parents, and his course load at Emerson all work together to influence the decision that Chris made. It is a story of trial by fire, how the relationships we make influence us, and just how far we will go to get what it is we want.

This book was fascinating, thrilling, and held my interest. From the author’s note by Jon Krakaeur  to the epilogue in the end, this book caught me. I felt for Ron Franz and Chris’s parents. I too wanted Chris to stay put, to stay in society. Krakaeur not only researched this book extensively, but he also never offered a biased opinion. He would state ways in which Chris made a stupid novice mistake but point out ways that he was intelligent and resourceful. To say the Krakaeur was completely ambivalent towards McCandless does not do this author justice. Krakaeur weaves stories of other individuals who absconded and tells a frightening story about his adventure climbing Devils Thumb in Alaska. He told this story because he related to McCandless and wanted to shed some insight into why an individual would place themselves in such a precarious situation. It was a brilliantly written book by an author who covered all of his bases and let the reader decide just who was Chris McCandless. If you haven’t read the book, read it. If you’ve seen the movie, but haven’t read the book, read it. The book offers more insight into Chris’s reasons and the other cases of abandonment that the author offers are enlightening and give the reader a glimpse at the human soul.

Now to the nitty-gritty: Spoiler Alert! If you haven’t read this book, or watched this movie, then read no further. I offer my thoughts on this book regarding the end of it and I do not want to let others know what occurs.

Throughout this book, Chris travels the country and meets several individuals who he had a profound effect upon. These people were touched by Chris, one person went so far as to change his way of life because Chris suggested it. I say these things because, at first, I believe that Chris hated people. He felt wounded by his parents, he went against the advice of many people, and proceeded up to the Alaskan wild and died because of this. However, Krakaeur shows the reader time and time again that McCandless loved some people, like his sister and Franz. He also loved talked to people and people were often enraptured by his stories. So he didn’t leave society because he hated people.

Maybe he left society because he no longer felt like he should belong to it. That’s not to say that he was worthless, maybe he left because he did not like what society held. I like this interpretation and it was one I reached after reading the book. At that point in time McCandless did not like what he saw. His all mighty father cheated on his mother and his Emerson classes showed the darker side of human nature. He left society because he was sick of it; it pained him. I think this was the case, but alas McCandless was too strong-headed and too much of a dreamer to return to society.

Krakaeur discusses McCandless’s infatuation with Jack London’s work and the picturesque Alaskan wilderness that London created. Krakaeur, like myself, believed that this longing for this particular wilderness drove McCandless to it and ultimately resulted in his death. Although London’s work was a work of fiction, McCandless believed that it was real and acted in such a manner. When confronted with the reality of Alaska by other natives he simply brushed off what they said, determined to find his Alaska. As a result of this, he was unprepared and died.

I do not think he was stupid, I think McCandless was unprepared. I wish there was another universe where McCandless returned ready to see those individuals who he had met along his journey. I wish he wrote a book detailing all of his adventures. I wish he came back and created ways to help society and not simply leave it. Alas, this did not happen. Moral of the story, if you leave, leave prepared. You may have adventures that many will want you to share.


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