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Into The Wild

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Jessica Gregory

on 27 August 2010

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Transcript of Into The Wild

A view on society “Gallien asked if whether he had had a hunting license.
‘Hell no’ Alex scoffed. ‘How I feed myself is none of the government’s business. F*ck their stupid rules." (page 6) McCandless was kind of an Anarchist. With his anarchism probably came scorn for the people who didn‘t share this ideology What’s wrong with them? They don’t want freedom, all they want is money and security. McCandless was bored with everything that’s considered normal to society. “McCandless explained to Burres that he’d grown tired of Bullhead, tired of punching a clock, tired of the ‘plastic people’ he worked with , and decided to get the hell out of town.” (page 43) Plastic people. That name pretty much sums up what he thought of people who went about their everyday activities like they had everyday since they started going about them.
He didn’t want a life that was repetitive and unexciting. "Chris was very much of the school that you should own nothing except what you can carry on your back at a dead run."( page 32) This quote explains even more of his contempt for society as a whole. Barely anyone is willing to give up everything they have to find a deeper meaning in life, unlike Chris. I’d have to assume that he didn’t understand why. “Sometimes he tried too hard to make sense of the world, to figure out why people were bad to each other so often.” (page 18) "Chris McCandless was at peace, serene as a monk gone to God." (page 199) If he got that sort of serenity (close to death non the less) by going all over the place, by giving up everything he had, why couldn’t everyone else? Better yet, why didn’t they want to? To McCandless money was just a means of collecting things that he'd have to give up anyways. Since our society basically lives to make money and buy things and retire to a nice beach home and die he didn’t want anything to do with it. Society on a view Most of society has the same attitude toward McCandless, although theirs is inverted. Why would someone give up everything they had and go, unprepared, into the wild? “Not only did McCandless die because he was stupid, one Alaska Correspondent observed, but ‘The scope of his self-styled adventure was so small as to ring pathetic-squatting in a wrecked bus a few miles out of Healy, potting jays and squirrels, mistaking a caribou for a moose…. Only one word for the guy: incompetent.” (page 177) We don’t understand why he did what he did so we have to ridicule him for it, just like he did us. To many, not only was he unprepared for his trip but he was naïve. He was young and had dreams of escaping bigamy and the unchanging cycle of everyday life. He didn’t know exactly what he was getting himself into. I think that if he had only hitchhiked his way around the U.S it would’ve been perfectly acceptable to society, people do it everyday, but he decided to go thirty miles off of the George Parks Highway and die. Obviously something was wrong with him. The other part of society sort of gets what McCandless was trying to do. “Sure he screwed up’ Roman answers, ‘but I admire what he was trying to do. Living completely off the land like that, month after month, is incredibly difficult. I’ve never done it. And I’d bet you that very few, if any, of the people who call McCandless incompetent have ever done it either.”(page 185) The people who knew McCandless, for the short while that he stayed with them, knew that he was smart. "you could tell that Alex was intelligent…" -Wayne Westerberg (page 18) “God, he was a smart kid”- Ronald Franz (page 52) These people knew that McCandless wasn’t suicidal or insane, he just wanted to be free. They did think that he needed to be more prepared thus why almost all of the people he got help from tried to give him supplies- money, boots, Swiss army knives, food. “Finally I got him to take some Swiss Army knives and a few belt knives; I convinced him that they’d come in handy in Alaska and that he could maybe trade them for something down the road.”-Jan Burres (page 46) Everyone who knew him, for the short time they did, was concerned for him.
The one person who can really identify with McCandless is Jon Krakauer, the author. Krakauer actually did something
like McCandless,by climbing
Devils Thumb, but he was semi- prepared. It’s probably a huge contributing factor as to why Krakauer decided to write about McCandless. He doesn’t think McCandless was incompetent but I don’t think Krakauer thinks McCandless’s plan was the best thought out plan in the world because his wasn’t either. “I would go to Alaska, ski inland from the sea across thirty miles of glacial ice, and ascend this mighty nordwand. I decided, moreover, to do it alone. …My reasoning, if one can call it that, was inflamed by the scattershot passions of youth and a[n overly rich] literary diet…”(page 135) Just like McCandless, Krakauer got the idea in his head and rushed into it with somewhat of a naïve way of thinking. Unlike McCandless, Krakauer was better prepared for the worst- “ I had paid a bush pilot in Petersburg $150- the last of my cash- to have six cardboard cartons of supplies dropped from an airplane when I reached the foot of the Thumb.”(page 140)
Another reason Krakauer could relate to McCandless so well was that McCandless had already been through a lot before he went into Alaska. Even though he wasn’t climbing a glacier, with the constant threat of falling into abyss, McCandless had the constant threat of life pulling him back, taking him over, and breaking him. If McCandless was anything like Krakauer he would’ve learned self control and self reliance in order to keep his new, adored life.
“you constantly feel the abyss pulling at your back. To resist takes a
tremendous conscious effort, you don’t dare let your guard down for an instant. The siren song of the void puts you on edge; it makes your movements tentative, clumsy, herky-jerky. But as the climb goes on, you grow accustomed to the exposure, you get used to rubbing shoulders with doom, you come to believe in the reliability of your hands and feet and head. You learn to trust your
self control.” (page 142) Krakauer McCandless I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. - Thoreau
McCandless’s philosophy on life was inspired by many authors. Thoreau may have had the most in common with him though. Thoreau said “I think I shall not buy greedily, but go round and round it as long as I live, and be buried in it first, that it may please me the more at last.” this possibly meaning- only buy something you’re going to use and will make you happy, don’t buy it just to have it. ...basically, what you absolutely needed.
McCandless's place in society was either one of great esteem (he‘s given all he had in order to live for a more sacred purpose) or something like a rat (yes he’s there but all he does is scrounge for food and shelter) it depends on who you ask. Either way he’s still living for himself so what point is there for him to have a place in society? I don’t think he’d even want a place in a society that revolves around money. Thoreau probably didn’t either- “However, I let him keep the ten dollars and the farm too, for I had carried it far enough; or rather, to be generous, I sold him the farm for just what I gave for it, and, as he was not a rich man, made him a present of ten dollars, and still had my ten cents, and seeds, and materials for a wheelbarrow left.” (They both only kept what they needed)
“To him whose elastic and vigorous thought keeps pace with the sun, the day is a perpetual morning. … Morning is when I am awake and there is a dawn in me. …The millions are awake enough for physical labor; but only one in a million is awake enough for effective intellectual exertion, only one in a hundred millions to a poetic or divine life. To be awake is to be alive. I have never yet met a man who was quite awake. How could I have looked him in the face?” McCandless saw how people of normal society acted as if they were bored and complacent, or as Thoreau would put it- asleep McCandless only wanted to be awake and happy with his life. He couldn’t see the point of life if happiness wasn’t it. Thoreau and McCandless However he found that happiness was only happiness if it was shared with others. that’s where society was a good thing for McCandless. McCandless shared with society by being a warning to few and an inspiration to many.
As I mentioned earlier,
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