College Papers

I. in Literature from the American Academy of

I.
Authors’ Background                                                                                                                     
Jon Krakauer, author of “Into the Wild”, was born on April 12, 1954 in Brookline
Massachusetts, U.S. Krakauer was also raised in Corvallis, Oregon, and he is a
mountaineer, beginning climbing in Oregon when he was just 8 years old, (cliff
notes). After graduating from Hampshire College in 1976, he worked as a
carpenter and a commercial fisherman in Colorado, the Pacific Northwest, and
Alaska, devoting most of his free time to climbing, (cliff notes). In 1977 he pioneered
a new route up the Devil’s Thumb in southeast Alaska. Krakauer’s most
recognized climb as a mountaineer was when he climbed Mount Everest in 1996,
where he became a part of the 1996 Mount Everest Disaster. Much of Krakauer’s
popularity as a writer came from being a journalist for Outside magazine. Many
of the other popular books that he has published besides “Into the Wild” include: “Eiger
Dreams: Ventures on Men and Mountains”, “Into Thin Air”, “Under the Banner of
Heaven”, “Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman”, & “Three Cups of Deceit: How Greg Mortenson,
Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way.” Krakauer’s writing has also influenced a
documentary based on the Mormon Church. In 1999, he received the Academy Award
in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is also editor
of the Modern Library’s Exploration series, (cliff notes). Krakauer has had a
long successful career as both a writer and an explorer and he is most
certainly highly respected in his fields.                                                                                                                                        Source: https://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/i/into-the-wild/jon-krakauer-biography

II.
Setting

Time: 1991-1992                                                                                                                             
Place: Alaska                                                                                                                    
       Significance:

The significance of this setting is that
it is the final destiny of Chris, and it is where he is found dead. This
setting tells the readers a lot about Chris’s character and who he was as a
person and what/how he chose to do this and due to the fact, he acts on impulse
that trying to do that in this type of setting will lead to his death. This
setting also shows how despite all that Chris had and all that was given to him
throughout his life and his journey, like what was given to him through the
kindness of Wayne Westerberg, he still chose to give all of it up to go to
Alaska, this place he had never been to before, completely unprepared and would
die because of it. The other significance of the setting in this book is that
it states that environmental factors might have contributed to Chris’s death.
Alaska was an isolated, cold, and dark place and made Chris feel both lonely
and adventurous at the same time. This once again is a fault of his Chris’s
character, as his over confidence despite how unprepared he was, would
eventually lead to his death. The setting of Alaska shows that no single person
can defeat a battle against nature, no matter what that person thinks they can
achieve.

 

III.
Characters

Chris:
Chris
is the main character of this book. He grew up living a good life under his wealthy
family. But one day, Chris made the decision to abandon his life and his family,
and goes on a long journey across the U.S. Many surprising things happened on
Chris’s journey. But what previously happened to Chris ultimately made him
become a different person. Chris had a bright future ahead, but he chose to
give up his opportunity to be successful and live a good life. This all stemmed
from the things that Chris discovered about his father and his relationship
with another woman besides his mother. Chris’s parents also made him feel
constrained. He often felt like he needed them too much at times, and after
discovering what he did about his father, he began to view his parents
negatively and he even says that he doesn’t believe in the “idea” of parents.
Chris also had a strong hate of the gov., which also helped him develop his
motivation to show that he could live on his own. Chris ends up changing his
name to Alex and he decides to travel around mainly the western part of the
U.S., and live his own life as a fake person with his fake name. This however,
ends up playing a role in Chris’s death, as his fight against the gov. and his
father doesn’t last very long, and doesn’t go well. Chris was a person who
often felt lost, and he never gets the chance to truly discover himself and
reveal it to his family. But did get to shortly live happily under a new
identity.                                                                                                
                                        Jon: The author of our book of course,
is Jon Krakauer, but surprisingly he plays a very large role in the book.
Krakauer makes comparisons with Chris’s life and his, as his own father did not
respect him for the profession he has chosen for his career as he wanted his
son to become a doctor like himself and the two often clashed and he resonated
with Chris because of a similar ambition he had like Chris that put himself in
a large amount of danger. Krakauer was very interested in Chris’s story as he
covered it in “Outside Magazine” and found as much as he could about his story
and decided to write a book based on Chris’s story, as well as his own.                                                                   
Ron Franz: Ron Franz is one
of many characters that Chris meets and interacts with as a part of his
journey. Franz ends up becoming a father-figure to Chris, as he did many things
for him, including offering him a place to stay, and other things. He also gave
Chris an offer that he adopts him, and Chris live with him. He offered this to
Chris because Chris helped him maintain a better lifestyle and mostly because
Ron lost his own son in a car accident two year prior.                                          Wayne Westerberg: Wayne Westerberg is
someone who makes a very big impact on Chris’s journey and as a part of the
book. Westerberg was the person who was kind to Chris and showed him courtesy
and give him the opportunity to work under his grain elevator in SD. He then offered
Chris the chance to stay with him, which Chris agreed to. At first, the main
reason as to why he showed that kind of courtesy to Chris was because Montana
was facing extreme weather conditions, and due to that he gave to Chris an
offer to stay in his bunk for 3 days. However, over time he decided to offer Chris
the opportunity to work for him in Carthage.

IV.
Theme – There are many themes demonstrated in this book.
One such theme is a social theme of Neighbors, the fact that Neighbors can
unexpectedly help each other. One example from the book that demonstrates this
theme is that Westerberg showed kindness to Chris (Alex) and give him a job,
and a place to stay. This demonstrates the theme that Neighbors can
unexpectedly help each other as Westerberg helped Chris even though he didn’t
want help from anybody and he made things better for Chris. Another theme
demonstrated in the book is the Domestic-Members of Household theme that poor
relationships in members of a household can lead to rebellion. One example from
the book that demonstrates this theme is how Walt had high expectations for
Chris, therefore leading him out to Alaska. This demonstrates the theme that
poor relationships in members of a household can lead to rebellion as Walt’s
overpressure of Chris ended up helping Chris to make the decision to leave
society and disbelieve in parenting. Another theme demonstrated in the book is
a Religious theme, that man views god as cruel. One example from the book that
demonstrates this theme is how Franz stopped believing in god after Chris died.
This demonstrates the theme that man views god as cruel as Franz prayed a lot
for Chris but when he died Franz started drinking a lot and he stopped
believing in god. Another theme demonstrated in the book is a Class theme, that
money doesn’t equal happiness. One example of this theme being demonstrated in
the book was how growing up, Chris’s family was very wealthy, and it
demonstrates this theme as even though Chris had a lot of money, he was never
happy in life, so he left everything he had to go on his journey.

V.
Plot Summary

This book starts with the founding of Christopher
McCandless’s body by a bunch of Alaskan hunters in a bus. The law enforcement then
comes to get his body. Jon Krakauer writes about this while writing for “Outside
Magazine” and become very curious about this story. To find out more Krakauer
pays a visit to a man named Wayne Westerberg, who says that he knew Christopher
McCandless as “Alex McCandless” and he then gives a sketch of the young man’s
character while in Carthage Wisconsin. He states that he used McCandless from
time to time on his grain elevator and from his memories views him as
participating, smart, and determined. Details from McCandless’s snug,
upper-middle-class family and his dislike of materialism helps Krakauer understand
Chris more. Learning this about him takes Krakauer back to the primary leg of
McCandless’s journey to the west in his used Datsun. Right after he graduated from
college, Chris drives to a reservoir in NV, where a flood wets his engine. He abandons
it and a variety of alternative possessions behind. After 2 months of going by
foot, he decides to purchase a canoe out of impulse and proceeds to canoe down
the Colorado stream all the way to Mexico. This trip takes 5 months. During
this, Chris’s family begins work on his disappearance. After his canoe trip
McCandless works and lives in Bullhead town, Arizona. An elderly man named
Charlie lets him stay with him, until Chris leaves and meets Jan Buress and her
ex in CA. He engages within the social lifetime of Buress’s drifters’ camp
however leaves hurriedly, assuming to begin his ascent towards Alaska. Jon gets
a letter from a man named Ronald Franz, and he tells the author about how he
had made a father-son relationship with Chris. The author then goes to see Westerberg
once more and reconstructs McCandless’s last month in Carthage by speaking with
Westerberg’s girlfriend and mother. Krakauer discovers information about the
troubled relationship Chris and his father had and Krakauer relates to him. In
late Apr. 1992, Chris’s friends received postcards from Chris telling them that
he was going into the wild, and that he might never come back. The author’s further
investigations are driven by his realization that a lot of those who read his
original article, stated that Chris was an incompetent fool. As a response to
these people, Jon begins to tell the stories of 3 alternative twentieth century
fanatics of the wild who died or disappeared within the wild. He evaluates all
of them and makes the connection that Chris has the most in common with Everett
Ruess. Back in Alaska at the bus, state troopers arrange to identify
McCandless’s body. Jim Gallien reads of the finding of the body and talks to
the police, sets off a number of events that result in Chris’s body being
identified. Krakauer next visits with McCandless’s family, starting together
with his mother and father, Billie McCandless and Walt McCandless. Billie
McCandless shows the author pictures of Chris in his childhood and Walt tells
Krakauer of how much sorrow throughout the family Chris’s death has caused. His
investigation then somewhat switches gears to a different subject: McCandless’s
frustration together with his family. Once McCandless graduated from high school,
he went on a visit to CA and found out that his father had been living a double
life with another spouse. Krakauer theorizes that McCandless being so angry
after discovering this family secret that has been kept from him gives Chris some
motivation for his need to go away and leave his old life behind. Krakauer then
has 2 chapters just talking about him climbing the Devils Thumb. These 2 chapters
parallel McCandless’s journey. Krakauer tries the glacier’s north face and is
rebuffed, then spends 3 days treed at his base camp. when accidentally setting
his tent aflame, he makes a desperate try at the southeast face and succeeds. After
recalling this story, it helps Krakauer conclude that Christopher McCandless did
not intend to die when he began his trip. Krakauer’s own trip to Mt. McKinley
park and therefore the abandoned bus wherever Chris died is what ends the story.
With 3 full-fledged Alaskans, Krakauer crosses a similar stream that prevented
Chris from leaving the wild due to its flooding. In the late afternoon the 4
hikers find the bus and examine what’s inside it. It all looks to be the same
as when Chris left it. The 4 eat dinner and reflect back on what made Chris go
into the wild. In the epilogue, Krakauer visits the bus once more with Chris’s
parents.

 

 

 

VI.
Literary Devices

Throughout the book the author uses many Literary
Devices to help describe the aspects of Chris’s life. One such example of a literary
device the author uses is Foreshadowing, where Krakauer says of Chris that, “He
allowed his life to be led by circumstances.” In this statement the author
hints that Chris lives his life not worrying about what happens next and goes
with the flow, which eventually leads to his death as Chris goes into Alaska
completely unprepared as he before he was there he wasn’t worried about what
was going to happen and clearly, it led to his death. Another example of a
literary device used in this novel is Chris’s dog Buck, which is an example of
a Motif. It is a Motif as his dog was symbolic of his childhood and showed his
families’ regret as they wish that Chris took Buck with him because they think
it would have saved his life as Chris was very close with Buck and would not
have put the dog in danger. Another example of a literary device used in this
book is when it says, “Chris McCandless has been dead for 2 ½ weeks.” This
statement represents the use of Dramatic Irony in the book as we, the readers,
knew from the very beginning that Chris was going to die due to the way the
author writes and structures the book, but Chris and the other characters in
the book didn’t know that he was going to die.

 

VII.
Significance of the title

The significance of the title “Into the Wild” is most simply that it represents Chris’s journey. It
represents how Chris ended his long journey. After all that Chris had throughout
his life he chose to give it all up because that’s not what we wanted. He
wanted something else. So, he went on his journey across the states under his
new persona “Alex.” And after all that was even given and offered to him
throughout his journey by multiple people, none of it mattered, and Chris still
managed to do what his impulse wanted him to do. He gave everything up once
again and went into the woods completely unprepared, in that cold, barren,
Alaska forest. He lacked any of the necessary tools, clothing, and food or
water to survive, but he went in anyway because of the “go with the flow” type
of person he is and Chris going into the wild in that way is also what ultimately
killed him, and though he didn’t know it at first, the readers know from the
very beginning. This title also represents the final resolution and the
somewhat growth of his character, as after awhile of being in the wild, and
trying to survive under all the terrible conditions he faced, Chris realized
that he was going to die, and he realized that he was going to die alone. It is
a big moment for his character that we all get to witness and that final
resolution for him is hinted in the title “Into
the Wild.”

 

VIII.
Author’s Intent Card

Jon Krakauer’s purpose for writing this book was because
he was extremely intrigued and curious of Chris’s story and Chris’s experiences
and how it related to him. He also wanted to be able to exactly explain what
happened to Chris while in the wild and find a motive for what led to Chris’s
decision to go there. Jon Krakauer, while writing the book, seeks to providing the
reader justification for Chris’s actions as when he first wrote about Chris’s
story, most were very critical of Chris for leaving behind his life and
abandoning his family. Krakauer includes stories in the book about people in
the past who have done the same as Chris, and the author even relates himself
to Chris with personal stories. He also might be trying to encourage reader to
take the similar risks that Chris took, as it might positively influence their
life if they have to courage to do so, even if it wasn’t that way for Chris.

 

 

 

 

IX.
Critical Passage

“Make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to
boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been
too hesitant to attempt.” -Jon Krakauer (56)                                                             
This passage shown relates to the overall theme of the book and the
author’s message as a large part of the reason for Krakauer to want to write
this book was so that he could justify Chris’s actions, and for doing what he
did. This passage backs that thought up of him justifying what Chris did as he
is saying that others should possibly try and do what Chris did with his life
and for readers to possibly shed society’s materialism and do what makes them
happy, even if it didn’t end well for him it might be different from the reader
and that is the author’s message.  This
also supports the overall theme of the book, that Chris had justifiable reasons
to do what he did and that a person might not always be who you expect them to
be and to want, and Chris had many great things in his life growing up and most
would expect him to be very happy and proud to live the life that he did when
on the other hand it was actually the contrary, as Chris was extremely unhappy
in the life that he was living, and he wanted to get out, and that the fact
that he wanted to get out in the first place from that wonderful life that many
thought he had, might be the main reason that many criticized the actions that
Chris took throughout his journey so harshly.