Jon Krakauer's Into The Wild

1808 Words8 Pages
Family, friends, and possessions pressure individuals through the imposition of values that contribute to identity; we are told that we obtain our qualities simply by inheritance and association. One’s environment reflects similar learned behaviors and thought processes. Deviating from the norm is often contemptible, but natural, according to author Jon Krakauer. Realizing that he did not want to become a carbon copy of his parents, Christopher McCandless wandered the American West for two years, as a nomad, to reject society as he knew it―his family, friends, and possessions. He burned his money, abandoned his car, and cut all ties with his family during an identity crisis that would lead to his death in the inhospitable Alaskan tundra. These…show more content…
Krakauer begins Into the Wild at the end of McCandless’s journey―his horrifying death. His body was discovered on an abandoned bus with “virtually no subcutaneous fat [remaining] on the body and his muscles had withered significantly” (Krakauer 14). At the time, the lurid details of his death made up the bulk of the “tabloid headlines” (Author’s Note); they only defined him by his death by “[fulminating] that he was a reckless idiot, a wacko, a narcissist who perished out of arrogance and stupidity…” (Author’s Note). The media neglects his human qualities, motivations, thoughts, and beliefs. His life is told by a set of biographical facts and journalists who make little effort to link events and delve deeper into McCandless’s world. The critics of McCandless affected Krakauer’s authorial choices , as Krakauer mirrors this portrayal of McCandless in the first two chapters. If Krakauer was to use a standard plot structure, then the story would end with his death, creating a sense of inevitability throughout the story; the primary takeaway would be his death rather than his life. These chapters serve as a point of orientation, a starting point for Krakauer to build upon to create a complete characterization of McCandless. He provides what is already commonly known about McCandless and then urges the reader to dismiss all previous convictions, by juxtaposing…show more content…
Krakauer reveals that his father, Walt, clandestinely maintained a relationship with his first wife and had children by her even after he married McCandless’s mother, Billie. To McCandless, this was unforgivable; he “could not pardon the mistakes of his father… and was less willing to pardon the attempt at concealment. ” (Krakauer 122). McCandless was even contemptuous of his own mother because he thought her actions complicit with his father’s “less than sterling behavior” (Krakauer 122). He abhorred his parents in that “the deception committed by Walt and Billie made his ‘entire childhood seems like a fiction.” (Krakauer 123). Walt McCandless’s character thus offers the narrator one important, implicit justification for Christopher McCandless’s journey into the wild. Christopher’s discontent with his father and his anger at a lifetime of lies pushed him away from people entirely. Krakauer’s depiction of Walt as stern, strong-jawed, and aloof only reinforces this supposition.(Krakauer 123) Consequently, McCandless “did not confront his parents with what he knew, then or ever. He chose instead to make a secret of his dark knowledge and

More about Jon Krakauer's Into The Wild

Open Document