Escaping from Civilization - Commentary on "Into the Wild" by Jon Krakauer

Essay by steph_veve May 2009

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After learning of Chris McCandless's experience in Alaska, many dismissed his odyssey as the "same story: idealistic, energetic young guys who overestimated themselves, underestimated the country, and ended up in trouble" (71). To them, "McCandless was hardly unique" (71). Clearly conveyed in Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, he was a stubborn rebellious individual who did not like being too close to people, and influenced by writers' such as Jack London's works on nature, decided to embark on the journey to Alaska.

An individual brimming with raw talent, McCandless is "supremely overconfident" (118), arrogant, stubborn and impatient. He refuses to slow down for anything or anyone, and disregards significant details, nodding politely when being persuaded or urged, only to "do exactly what he wanted" (119) afterwards. This is why he entered Alaska without fully considering his family, friends and all the risks. He took it as a challenge and faced it head-on.

It is also because he is so smart and talented that he had such high expectations for himself, and plenty of pride. This is shown when he started running. Everytime "he did worse than he expected" (112), he was really hard on himself. He would "internalize the disappointment" (112) and "go off alone somewhere and beat himself up" (112). He expects too much of himself, biting off more than he can chew, only to disappoint himself later on. He is very independent and despises authority of any kind, including his parents. Therefore he never shares anything with his parents, bottling everything up, which does not solve his problems as the root of them is his father's affair with his ex-wife. An example is when he gets an F in high school physics because he did not write his lab reports in the format his teacher asked...