Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer Essay
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Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
Chris McCandless was just a victim of his own obsession. The novel "Into The Wild" written by John Krakauer revealed the life of a young bright man named Chris McCandless who turned up dead in Alaska in summer 1992. In the novel, John Krakauer approached carefully McCandless's life without putting too much authorial judgment to the readers. Although Chris McCandless remained an elusive figure throughout the novel, I can see Chris McCandless as a dreamy young idealist who tries to follow his dream but failed because of his innocent mistake which prove to be fatal and irreversible. Still, Chris McCandless's courage and passion was something that we should all be proud of.
When Chris McCandless's…show more content…
Chris McCandless was possessed by a nomadic existence and was trying to share his principle of life to his friend by telling that the truth about life was to explore the nature. Chris McCandless's last letter to Wayne revealed his true passion of nature. "This is the last you shall hear from me...I now walk into the wild"(pg 69). Some people concluded that it was Chris McCandless's suicide letter. However, in my opinion, Chris McCandless was just a victim of his own ego, pride and confidence that made him to neglect basic precautions that keep one person alive. He was controlled by his own delusions and that made him eager to test himself into strenuousness which proved fatal to him.
Chris McCandless was a true adventurer. He went to his journeys mostly by foot and would not take any chance to cheat it. He bought an aluminum canoe at Arizona and paddled down the Colorado River, and nearly drowning in rough water in the Gulf of California. In his journal, he writes ."..It is the experiences, the memories, the great triumphant joy of living to the fullest extent in which real meaning is found. God it's great to be alive! Thank you. Thank you" (pg37). His confession in his journal proved that he had no regrets of what he had done even though it almost cost him his life. He also turned down Wayne's offer to buy him an airplane ticket to
For those who have read Thoreau's Walden, there comes a time, maybe only lasting a few hours or a day, when the notion of living alone in a tiny cabin beside a pond and planting some beans seems strangely seductive. Certain young men, of which I was one, lecture patient girl friends about how such a life of purity and denial makes perfect sense. Christopher McCandless did not outgrow this phase.
Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild, which I read with a fascinated dread, tells the story of a 20-year-old college graduate who cashes in his law school fund and, in the words of Mark Twain, lights out for the territory. He drives west until he can drive no farther, and then north into the Alaskan wilderness. He has a handful of books about survival and edible wild plants, and his model seems to be Jack London, although he should have devoted more attention to that author's "To Build a Fire."
Sean Penn's spellbinding film adaptation of this book stays close to the source. We meet Christopher (Emile Hirsch) as an idealistic dreamer, in reaction against his proud parents (William Hurt and Marcia Gay Harden) and his bewildered sister (Jena Malone).
He had good grades at Emory; his future in law school was right there in his grasp. Why did he disappear from their lives, why was his car found abandoned, where was he, and why, why, why?
He keeps journals in which he sees himself in the third person as a heroic loner, renouncing civilization, returning to the embrace of nature. In centuries past such men might have been saints, retreating to a cave or hidden hermitage, denying themselves all pleasures except subsistence. He sees himself not as homeless, but as a man freed from homes.
In the book, Krakauer traces his movements through the memories of people he encounters on his journey. It was an impressive reporting achievement to track them down, and Penn's film affectionately embodies them in strong performances. These are people who take in the odd youth, feed him, shelter him, give him clothes, share their lives, mentor him and worry as he leaves to continue his quest, which seems to them, correctly, as doomed.
By now McCandless has renamed himself Alexander Supertramp. He is validated by his lifestyle choice. He meets such people as Rainey and Jan (Brian Dieker and Catherine Keener), leftover hippies still happily rejecting society, and Wayne (Vince Vaughn), a hard-drinking, friendly farmer. The most touching contact he makes is with Ron (Hal Holbrook), an older man who sees him clearly and with apprehension, and begins to think of him as a wayward grandson. Christopher lectures this man, who has seen it all, on what he is missing and asks him to follow him up a steep hillside to see the next horizon. Ron tries, before he admits he is no longer in condition.
And then McCandless disappears from the maps of memory, into unforgiving Alaska. Yes, it looks beautiful. It is all he dreamed of. He finds an abandoned bus where no bus should be and makes it his home. He tries hunting, not very successfully. He lives off the land, but the land is a zero-tolerance system. From his journals and other evidence, Penn reconstructs his final weeks. Emile Hirsch plays him in a hypnotic performance, turning skeletal, his eyes sinking into his skull while they still burn with zeal. It is great acting, and more than acting.
This is a reflective, regretful, serious film about a young man swept away by his uncompromising choices. Two of the more truthful statements in recent culture are that we need a little help from our friends, and that sometimes we must depend on the kindness of strangers. If you don't know those two things and accept them, you will end up eventually in a bus of one kind or another. Sean Penn himself fiercely idealistic, uncompromising, a little less angry now, must have read the book and reflected that there, but for the grace of God, went he. The movie is so good partly because it means so much, I think, to its writer-director. It is a testament like the words that Christopher carved into planks in the wilderness.
I grew up in Urbana three houses down from the Sanderson family -- Milton and Virginia and their boys Steve and Joe. My close friend was Joe. His bedroom was filled with aquariums, terrariums, snakes, hamsters, spiders, and butterfly and beetle collections. I envied him like crazy. After college he hit the road. He never made a break from his parents, but they rarely knew where he was. Sometimes he came home and his mother would have to sew $100 bills into the seams of his blue jeans. He disappeared in Nicaragua. His body was later identified as a dead Sandinista freedom fighter. From a nice little house surrounded by evergreens at the other end of Washington Street, he left to look for something he needed to find. I believe in Sean Penn's Christopher McCandless. I grew up with him.