Materialism is defined by Webster's Dictionary as "a preference for material objects as opposed to spiritual or intellectual pursuits" (172). Life in 2002 is very materialistic. I am a part of a generation that has been focused on "what we have". Materialism is something that I have just realized is an issue for me. Into the Wild and The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass opened my eyes to how complicated materialism makes life. After completing the novels, I visited with my mother as she has had a different experience in her lifetime. I also interviewed my wife as she has a different upbringing from myself. All of this information has provided for a new perspective for me on materialism.
My wife and I have become accustomed to purchasing or getting whatever we like. It is hard for me to imagine Chris McCandless giving all of his money away and living on hardly anything.
He made the choice to "just get by." Living off the land is something McCandless strongly promoted. In his letter to Franz, McCandless encouraged Franz to "do it economy style" (58). We have always given to charities and to the Church, but we have also made sure we have more than the necessities. McCandless's choices showed me that maybe we could live with a little less. I cannot see my family going to the point of giving up our home, our cars, and many of our things. I am able to see us looking more carefully as our purchases and how much "stuff" we really need.
Federick Douglass never had a choice when he was a slave. Money and materialism were the least of his concerns. When he did make money, Douglass had to pay his master a sizeable portion of the money. He...