Into The Wild, by Jon Krakauer (Weekly response)
I have read up to page 126 in the nonfiction novel "Into The Wild", by Jon Krakauer. This is my first response in regards to the novel.
Summary so far: "Into The Wild" is told from the perspective of reporter Jon Krauker, who works for the magazine "Outside". He had written an article about the strange death of Chris McCandless, a boy born into prosperity who took on an impossible expedition in the frigid reaches of Alaska, resulting in his death. That particular article generated a lot of controversy (as Krauker claims), and so Krauker wanted to clear some details about the event in this novel. He starts at the end, where he describes the gritty details of McCandless death. He mentions how McCandless had kept many records of his travels, and then diverges into his past. Chris was born into a rather fortunate family, as his father was a well-respected NASA and government radar specialist and his mother was a successful attorney. He apparently didn't have the best relationship with his parents, and really only opened up to his younger sister, Carine. Otherwise, he was a superb athlete and scholar, and didn't seem to have trouble making friends. But, what he did have was an extraordinary desire to change the world, and absorbed himself in ideals of human and natural justice. As a result, after graduating college, he had left home and attempted to build a new life in "rugged" areas, moving from places like Mexico to Arkansas. Along the way, he met many people of all ages and seemed to have a profound effect on their lives, despite his impulse to remain secretive (he even changed his name to John). For example, he worked at a mill in Carthage, S.D. for a man name Wayne Westberg, who grew attached to him both as his boss and a friend. And in another instance, Ron Franz had taken care of Chris as his own son, only to be crushed at the news of his death. From where I left off, Krauker was getting into comparisons between McCandless and other young adventurers, and gives the opinions of both himself and others that commented on his article.
Interesting Quote: "The prevailing Alaska wisdom held that McCandless was simply one more dreamy half-cocked greenhorn who went into the country expecting to find answers to all his problems and instead found only mosquitoes and a lonely death."
Analysis: What this quote is basically saying is that McCandless was supposedly just like any other young adventurer, ignorant and believing that he could make a fake life out of the wilderness. However, I can't say that I support this viewpoint. To me, even though Chris was underprepared, even though he did borrow his ideals, and even though he did cause his parents so much suffering, his heart was in the right place. He truly and inherently wanted to fix large-scale world problems, despite how so many people told him that it was impossible, and held a firm set of beliefs. While he was mentioned to be brash and arrogant in not accepting advice, I'm sure Chris acted for the greater good or for at least what he viewed as the greater good. So, he went on this hitchhiking, nomad-like quest to find the moral and spiritual answers to his questions, purposefully causing difficulty to himself due to his self-hatred and guilt in being so fortunate. Therefore, while some people may feel that Chris was an egotist and downright stupid, I believe that he was a hero inside, and only went about accomplishing his goals incorrectly due to the misconceptions he had.