The adventure of a lifetime ends with a devastating conclusion. Such is the case in ‘Into The Wild’ by Jon Krakauer, which follows the journey of a wanderlust-driven man named Chris McCandless. His travels take him across the United States to reach his ultimate goal of Alaska and finding his true ‘self’. McCandless challenges society by abandoning his old way of life and starting a new, pure life. To his dismay, the journey ends with him realizing that he is going to die. Since the discovery of McCandless’s death, many have questioned who he was and what he wanted. According to the tales and anecdotes surrounding his life, Chris McCandless was an eccentric, reckless man whose mindset drove him to his best, yet worst, outcome.
For the most part, McCandless was a complex being. Though some would find him crazy, there is a sense of admiration that lies within this philosophy. Furthermore, he believed: “Life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality, nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences” (Krakauer 57).
For someone who has a natural way of thinking, one can assume McCandless’s statement is bold, yet foolish. He is erratic but has a way of thinking that is a bit off-putting; however, he is not entirely insane. In his sisters, Carine McCandless book ‘The Wild Truth’ focusing on the family aspect that drove Chris to leave his mundane life behind, Carine McCandless recalls: “Chris could not have cared less about trophies or honors, and yet he was still good at everything. He set high goals for himself and achieved them all without the pressure of knowing that others were depending on him” (McCandless, 50).
Chris may have been content with his family and school but gained no happiness from it. He did not care about other individuals’ opinions nor “a fake one just to appease you”. Chris wanted to rely on himself, disregarding his parents’ best attention on seeing him succeed, which highlighted his idiotic and stubborn streak.
He is also an irrational and half-baked visionary because he was so ill-prepared, as he did not have any gear for the Alaskan wilderness, “he peppered Gallien with… questions about the kind of small game that lived in the country, the kinds of berries he could eat” (Krakauer,5). A sensible person would do a vast amount of research before going straight into the wild and deciding to live off the land. He was incredibly smart, yet his lack of foresight was dangerously foolish. Nonetheless, he did have some exciting ideas on life.
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Contrary to McCandless’s reckless actions, he did have true and wise ideologies and goals. He wanted to prove to the world that he actually could live off the land and make it on his own. He is seeking liberation from society’s toxicities. He wanted the “climatic batter to kill the false being within and victoriously conclude the spiritual revolution” and “no longer wanted to be poisoned by the civilization he flees” (163). McCandless wanted to escape the materialism and greed consuming society. He thought that he could achieve this through his Alaskan Voyage. Living life in isolation or by his means was not new to him. Ever since he was a child, “Chris marched to a different drummer” and “was very to himself…not antisocial; he always had friends…but he could be alone without being lonely” (107). The spiritual revolution he was seeking needed to be done alone. Though he should have taken a different approach, he came upon his destiny by himself.
At long last, McCandless’s odyssey ended with enlightenment; however, all at the cost of his own life. He experienced more in a few months than most people experience in a lifetime. He claims: “It is the experiences, the memories, the great triumphant joy of living to the fullest extent in which real meaning is found” (37). Chris successfully survived 114 days in Alaska and was at peace by the end. In his final picture, though emaciated, there was a feeling of victory being conveyed — the same expression where one would win a race or receive an award. His final farewell being “I HAVE HAD A HAPPY LIFE AND THANK THE LORD. GOODBYE AND MAY GOD BLESS ALL!” (199). Even though his actions and consequences lead to his death, he still managed to fulfill his goal before he died. The fact that he decided to go back home, only to have a river thwart his plans, proves he accomplished his goal.
In the end, McCandless’s unorthodox way of thinking drove him to a preventable death. His unusual personality was the cause of all his ups and downs with the drive to rely on himself and not others. The guy who took a trip of a lifetime with such a casual approach had an impact on everyone he met. The mysterious man left behind many questions and a lesson: to go out into the wild and experience life from a different point of view. His thought process was different, but his goal similar to all; create his path and experience it. All that matters is that he found what he was looking for, to spark joy, and find his inner peace.