Into the Wild

Into the Wild is an interesting book for a few reasons. Firstly, much of the book is written without much knowledge of the whereabouts of the main character. Based on what the author, Jon Krakauer, was able to glean from interviews, he put together a rough idea of where Chris McCandless spent the last year of his life. The main character, McCandless, also makes the book interesting, because he is a real life vagrant. It’s not often that one hears about other people who become wanderers by choice. In the modern world, it’s very difficult to truly wander around and just exist. The people he met, however, all claim to love the time they had with McCandless. Into the Wild is a book unlike any that I have read before.

I’m not exactly sure who Krakauer’s audience is, and the book itself doesn’t seem to have any sort of purpose. The only argument pro-purpose for the book one could make is, I believe, that it functions similarly to a documentary. The book exists for educational, informational purposes. If that is the case, then Krakauer’s audience is anyone who wants to learn about the life of Chris McCandless. Now, Krakauer did a very good job in showing a different side to McCandless that many people probably don’t know about. When we hear about someone living and dying in the wild, by their own choice mind you, we credit it to stupidity. We say things like, “Yeah, it was stupid of him to try and survive off the land when he clearly didn’t have the necessary skills and training.” But what Krakauer has done is show that McCandless really wasn’t a blind idiot. The author has shown that McCandless was challenging the norms of society and following his dream at all costs. Krakauer was very successful in achieving the portrayal of McCandless as an intelligent, sentient human being. The reader, knowing the full story, can now take what he will from McCandless’ life. There are always things to be learned from other people, and displaying someone’s life in the truest way possible ensures that everyone can learn something from the story of someone’s life.

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One thought on “Into the Wild

  1. I think this is a strong post, Drew, and I sympathize with the assertion that there doesn’t seem to be any particular purpose to the book. I’m not sure though that the purpose of any “documentary” is truly only to inform. I think there’s usually a reason the author/director wants us to have that information — some action they’re hoping we’ll take. They may not always be explicit with what the action is (and, thus, what their purpose is), but I think it’s there.

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