Initially assigned to write an article about Christopher McCandless, Jon Krakauer, an illustrious outdoor writer felt deeply fascinated and sympathized with this young strange man with whom he shared quite a few common traits. Krakauer defends McCandless so emphatically as a result of his wanderlust soul, a complicated relationship with his father, and near-death experiences.
One can easily identify the similarities between Krakauer and McCandless in Into the Wild (1996), they both carried perilous voyagers into the cold and harsh land of Alaska in their 20s with a love for the outdoor and nature. They also shared complicated relationships with their fathers. Chapter 14 and 15 of Into the wild were dedicated to Jon Krakauer’s own life story (1996). It could be the ingenuity of Krakauer to signify how every decision of his and Christopher McCandless mattered in life or death. The youthful rage towards their fathers was one of the main forces that drove them to the wild. Krakauer was tired of his father’s expectations, trapped and suffocated by his father’s vision.
I had a knack for living up to the old man’s worst expectations he confessed (Krakauer, 1996, p158). Exhausted to live his life the way his father wanted Life, as he saw it, was a contest. He was ambitious in the extreme and like Walt McCandless. (Krakauer, 1996, p159), Krakauer decided that he would not turn into the replicate version of his father and rebelled. For Christopher McCandless, his fury was fueled by discovering his father’s hidden past. His whole childhood as he knew was a lie. Walt McCandless had a two families lifestyle. Chris felt betrayed as he unveiled this scandalous truth. The quote of Thoreau in his book Walden Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me the truth indicated Christopher’s fury towards his parents. (1854) In 2014, the final piece of the puzzle named Christopher McCandless was revealed by his sister Carine.
In her biography The Wild Truth, Chris’s little sister Carine revealed that her brother and she were the victims of domestic violence and mental abuse by their father (2014). McCandless and Krakauer were furious and perhaps even tired, so they ran away, left behind all of the disappointments, the complicated, and the ugliness of the conventional life to give in to the wild. It was in the wilderness of Alaska, the unconcealed roughness of the wild that Chris and Jon found peace. It is only when they stood between the vastness of nature to feel how small they are, how insignificant their problems were. Amazed and captivated by the rawness of nature, Chris believed he had found his purpose, and so was Jon Krakauer.
Their ends were contrasted because Chris had always been an extremist. He had extremely high expectations for himself since he was small. He pushed himself hard and did not stop for anything or anyone until he gets what he wanted. This extreme trait, which half of the world considered maniac and ignorant while the other half looked upon as courageous and determined, eventually drove him to his end. McCandless and Krakauer were chasing the purposes of life by rejecting the conventional values’ of civilization like material objects and human connections. Nevertheless, Jon still longed for connections, he realized that his belief was a compulsive one and this lifestyle was not sustainable, so he returned to civilization. Up until chapter 15 of Into the Wild, we did not know whether the idealistic Chris McCandless had changed his mind about the purpose of his life.
Krakauer’s adventure to Alaska gave him a near-death experience, this was one of the main reasons why he sympathized with McCandless. Stuck in the Devil Thump, the author experienced nervousness and panic as his supplies ran out and the weather was not in his favor. But it was the decision to continue climbing the Devil Thump alone that got him closer to the threat of death than ever. Krakauer defends McCandless so earnestly because he had been there.
In fact, he believed the only difference between them was that he got away and Chris did not. The way he presented Chris stories through his objects, his books, the postcards, the people he met, in the hope of explaining why Chris would opt for such a careless and fearless life was extremely meticulous. Jon Krakauer’s narrative was one of kind, the story started at the end of Chris’s life. By opening the file of Christopher McCandless’s journey to the barren and harsh Alaska with his death, the death of such a strange young man who contempt the materialistic life and rules of temporary civilization. Tracing through all the paths and people that Chris had passed, Jon Krakauer took readers through the memorable and fascinating adventure of Christopher J. McCandless and his complicated mind.
To put it in a nutshell, the way Jon Krakauer dedicated two chapters in his book to describe his own experience was an ultimate persuasion to readers and sympathy towards the fearless and wild-hearted Christopher J. McCandless.
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