Walt Mccandless Descriptive Essay

Into The Wild - Diavonni Edington          

Into The Wild Essay

Into The Wild Essay

If you ask a person what they think is the meaning of life you may get millions of different answers, but the majority of people will agree that the true meaning of life is to find happiness and what is really important to one’s self. In Jon Krakauer’s, Into The Wild, despite society’s constant restrictions of its inhabitants, Chris McCandless isolates himself from society in his Alaskan Odyssey as a way to defy its expectations- becoming an individual and discovering the meaning of life in the process.

In real life, Chris McCandless “had been raised in the comfortable upper-middle-class environs of Annandale, Virginia (Krakauer 19)” so growing up, McCandless lived a considerably privileged life and because of that, he never experienced hardships in terms of economics. Despite this, McCandless is a man who puts little to no importance into material items and or wealth. To some, McCandless’s decision to give all of his money away, abandon his family, and give away all of his belongings as something only a “nut” or a “kook” would do, but growing up, McCandless believed his economic privilege was “ shameful, corrupting, inherently evil (Krakauer 115) which led him to become ashamed of what he had. McCandless put strong emphasis on his belief of equality. He would always try to “make sense of the world (Krakauer 18)” and why things were the way they were and why people did the things they did. So, as a result of his search for social justice and refusal to conform to society’s economic hierarchy, McCandless looked towards the wild for answers not just from society, but from himself.

Despite their seemingly perfect lifestyle, the McCandless family’s home life was not so perfect. In addition to Chris’s resenting his parents because of his father, Walt’s, long-kept secret of his affair with Chris’s mother, Billie, while Walt was already married to another woman- which went against Chris’s moral code completely- Chris McCandless always found it impossible to get along with his parents because they were seemingly polar opposites to him, with him describing their actions and lifestyle as “so irrational, so oppressive, disrespectful and insulting (64).” Similarly to a statement made by Rebecca LaMarche, I believe that the reason why Chris McCandless was unable to forgive and come to terms with his father, is because of Chris’s high moral standards. But, in comparison to a statement made by Jessica Robbins, I do not believe that McCandless’s decision to just up-and-leave the hum-drum life that he used to live was a selfish decision at all. In all honesty despite their disagreements, it is clear that Chris loved his family-especially his sister Carine- and wouldn’t do anything to intentionally hurt anyone. McCandless’s sudden removal from society was just a way for him to clear his mind and come to terms with himself.

Although this wasn’t the best idea to fix his family issues, Chris McCandless decided to isolate himself from the ones he wants loved and in an attempt to find himself. In truth, human beings are communal creatures and survive by living in supportive communities made from rules and restrictions on actions and thoughts. In society it is usually looked down upon and feared for people to step out of their normal boundaries. Because most people allow society’s standards to keep our futures in chains and force us to conform to a monotonous lifestyle, “we convince ourselves that it’s no longer possible to embody those ideals (Korn, Now I Walk Into the Wild)” such as “grasping life, embracing our spirit of adventure, freedom, living in the most fully deep way we are humanly capable of (Korn, Now I Walk Into the Wild)” in this day and age. One of the mutual ideas we see in the works of people like Muir, Krakauer, and McCandless is the yearning of the soul to free itself from the communal life and to leave the community concept altogether in order to reach one’s own personal nirvana. Truly living life isn’t just about experiencing new things and new people, but taking the life lessons that you’ve learned from those experiences and applying them towards your future in order to better yourself. McCandless’s rejection of all things physical to cut all ties and burn all bridges back to human communities really tells the enhances the story and proves that although this yearning is in all of us, only a select few can act on it and that is why McCandless’s story captivating.

In the end, despite the speculation and criticisms of Chris McCandless’s life choices by some, it is no doubt that his bravery and courageousness is a pure example of how living on the edge and taking chances is sometimes what people need to do in order to really experience life and find themselves. As stated in Rebecca LaMarche’s essay, it is true that through “self-reliance” and “idealism”, McCandless was able to “..create a new life for himself.” By reading about McCandless’s life in the Alaskan wild, we learn that “The core of mans' spirit comes from new experiences (Krauker 57),” and by losing his “..inclination for monotonous security (Krauker 57),” Chris McCandless was able to experience a new life of adventure and gain a new perspective through finding out who he is and his personal meaning in life.




Christopher McCandless, a.k.a. “Alexander Supertramp” or “Alex” -  — The protagonist of Into the Wild and the subject of Jon Krakauer’s investigative reporting. Compact, athletic, and serious, McCandless has a high IQ and reads voraciously. When he is young, he takes his father’s advice to excel in all his activities seriously, and succeeds in activities from music to cross country running. He develops a love of the outdoors and of camping from family trips. He has an authoritative streak best evidenced by his tendency to lecture even his parents and other adults about their lives. From time to time, McCandless also evidences nervousness with other people, especially authorities, and a decided absentmindedness or lack of common sense.

Jon Krakauer -  — The narrator and author of Into the Wild. Krakauer’s narrative persona balances objectivity and sensitivity while demonstrating expertise in wilderness topics from botany to mountaineering. His argumentative engagement with readers of his 1993 Outdoor magazine article about Christopher McCandless and his attempt to explain McCandless’s departure from civilization form the book’s secondary plot.

Read an in-depth analysis of Jon Krakauer.

Wayne Westerberg -  — A well-intentioned operator of a grain outfit who assists McCandless early in his wanderings and becomes a close friend. Westerberg is a convicted felon who served a short sentence for a victimless crime involving the piracy of television signals. He is also a talker with a taste for Jack Daniels who brings out McCandless’s social side.

Ronald A. Franz -  — A Vietnam veteran and leatherworker who befriends McCandless in Salton City, California. Eighty years old, muscular and tall, Franz is a recovered alcoholic and a widowed father who lost his son to a drunk driving accident while he was overseas. He establishes a thoughtful, parental relationship with McCandless and offers to adopt him as his grandson. He is also psychologically vulnerable. He packs up his life and lives out of a trailer at McCandless’s suggestion.

Samuel Walter “Walt” McCandless -  — Christopher McCandless’s father. Walt McCandless is an intense, brilliant engineer with top-secret security clearance and experience in jet propulsion and sensor and satellite system design. Walt McCandless radiates authority and intelligence. Walt is somewhat taciturn, and when he does communicate he is straightforward in a manner that leaves little room for politeness. Before he legally married Billie McCandless, Christopher’s mother, Walt McCandless maintained a relationship with his first wife, acting as the father and head of two families at once.

Read an in-depth analysis of Samuel Walter “Walt” McCandless.

Carine McCandless Fish -  — Christopher McCandless’s younger sister. Outgoing, musical, athletic and hardworking, Carine was one of her brother’s closest friends. She hopes to become a millionaire while she is still young. She is accomplished, smart and socially adept as well as beautiful, a trait that McCandless stresses when he describes her to other people. Unlike her brother, she engages in relationships with others and is married to a man with whom she co-owns a small business.

Billie McCandless -  — Christopher McCandless’s mother. Billie married Christopher’s father when she was twenty-two. The two frequently fought, which had the effect, among other things, of forging a close bond between Christopher and Carine. After his death, Billie is overcome with grief, but maintains a strength that Krakauer describes in the book’s epilogue.

Jan Burres -  — A woman Christopher meets when she gives him a ride in Arizona. Later, Christopher shows up at Jan’s trailer in the itinerant community, the Slabs, where she lives with her boyfriend, Bob. Christopher lives with the couple and helps Jan with her bookselling business.

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