Last Updated 04 May 2017

Madness and the Freedom to Live: Into the Wild

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A young man, living in a comfortable civilized environment leaves society and all the benefits that he had behind him to build a new life. The novel Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer tells the story of a young man, Chris McCandless who had always believed his life ritual was based on mental knowledge. The existential mind of McCandless seemed to prove this statement true. His effort he put into his work was nothing compared to what would lie ahead on this so called “journey” of his. He loved the fact that each day he had the possibility of being exciting, different, or even dangerous.

Chris was different in the way he wanted to experience life. He wanted to be alone and took no joy in the various human relationships that he had developed in his travels. Chris showed that he was a loner and did not value these relationships by his disregard for normal society and only took pleasure in challenging himself. To part from all society, one’s mind needs to be set; for once one was there, to come back would be a challenging task. A quote from the beginning of chapter six states, “No man ever followed his genius till it misled him.

Though the result were bodily weakness, yet perhaps no one can say that the consequences were to be regretted, for these were a life in conformity to higher principles” -Henry David Thoreau (Krakauer 47). Any human, man or woman, may see the mental capabilities they have, but never portray them in anything worth dying for. The judgments of anyone could be overrode by something as simple as a thought or pigment of curiosity in one’s mind. McCandless went through this exact same thing during his short-lived life.

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Once the thought of living without society had crossed his mind, he had been fixed on making it possible. Every little occurrence over the period of time McCandless spent in Alaska began to show it. The little amount of supplies he had ran out quickly and the effect was tragic and fatal. The accomplishments he had acquired from taking this journey affected him in the long run. Though McCandless is deceased, the phenomenon of his story lives on, and one can certainly believe that he did not regret anything he put himself through.

He may not have learned from his own mistakes, but others can learn from the aberrations McCandless put upon himself. Thoreau states, “If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal, ---that is your success” (Krakauer 47). The concepts and visions McCandless perceived and lived can be recognized throughout this statement. He looked at the possibilities in life in a positive manner, and the outcome of doing this was appreciation, love, and most importantly, success.

Thoreau also states, “All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself. The greatest gains and values are farthest from being appreciated. We easily come to doubt if they exist. We soon forget them. They are the highest reality... The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched” (Krakauer 47). In McCandless’ mind, the only thing he wanted was this.

Every little speck of appreciation all showed towards the beautiful mother nature; she is what held his head high, and kept him going throughout his journey. Anthony Storr wrote; “It is true that many creative people fail to make mature personal relationships, and some are extremely isolated. It is also true that, in some instances, trauma, in the shape of early separation or bereavement, has steered the potentially creative person toward developing aspects of his personality which can find fulfillment in comparative isolation” (Krakauer 61).

This is an extremely relevant statement about McCandless and his actions. It illustrates the observations between him, and his father. He may be a very intelligent person, and he may be a straight “A” student, but the failure to be able to obtain a good, close relationship with his father drove him away. But if any person ever got the chance to go through something like McCandless did they would be very distant as well. The fortunate aspects and outcomes of such, allowed him to start over and begin a new life of his own. Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth. I sat at a table where rich food and wine in abundance, and obsequious attendance, but sincerity and truth were not; and I went away hungry from the inhospitable board. The hospitality was as cold as the ices” -Henry David Thoreau (Krakauer 117). This quote emphasizes the fact of McCandless looking for something that could not be found. The truth he looked for every day of his life had the inability to stay hidden.

It tended to squish though ever crack and crevice in the wall his father tried to put up between them. All McCandless wanted was the truth, and all his father had done was separate himself from McCandless more and more. He wanted nothing more in life but to know what was really going on, but the incompetence of his father’s actions caused the two to separate. The perseverance of McCandless’ life showed greatly throughout the readings of this book. Every bit of information lead to give the reader understanding of who McCandless was, and why he did what he did.

His story was an excellent acknowledgement to what he had accomplished. The love McCandless showed towards nature and interest of starting over allowed him to live this dream. The encouragement given to him was taken in a very special manner, and every step McCandless took, was written down as if his life were an epic novel. The troubles and hardships he had gone through and success he had gained was all lost, as his body was found later in an abandoned bus.

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