“Into the wild” by Jon Krakauer's review

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Jon Krakauer's book "Into the Wild" is a great read. Chris McCandless was a key character in the novel, and the plot focused largely on his life. “It's conceivable to think of Chris McCandless running away from something, such as leaving a way of life and a tough home situation, but it's also possible to think of him racing toward something,” one may argue. It is critical to focus on these impulses in order to determine which was the most powerful. Nonetheless, it is possible that both were equally essential. In this regard, this paper focuses on demonstrating what aspects that show that Chris McCandless was running away from something and at the same time running towards something hence the two impulses could be presumed to have equal importance.

Before one subjects Chris to some judgment simply because of his many faults and acts that could be considered as being reckless, it is vital to focus on all aspects of his life. Despite the fact that Chris was headstrong and naïve in his effort to run away from the reality of his own life, it came to his discovery that he was running towards something worthwhile and beautiful. However never approached risks rationally as it is stated, “McCandless, in his fashion, merely took risk-taking to its logical extreme.” (Krakauer 182), this shows he was running towards something and definitely not something positive.

It appears that he was heading towards something fulfilling and lovable. Notably, at young age one would feel that becoming adventurous in life is exactly what they need. Many a time the desire to want to experience life in the outside makes one wish to leave their parent’s homes and be on their own. It is all about having an own story of life to tell. It is stated in the book, “It is easy, when you are young, to believe that what you desire is no less than what you deserve, to assume that if you want something badly enough, it is your God-given right to have it” (Krakauer 155). Looking into the life of Chris in ‘Into the Wild’ the same case applies. Through his reckless actions he decided to become adventurous with his life. His last words on a postcard directed to Wayne Westerberg stated that “Please return all mail I receive to the sender. It might be a very long time before I return South. If this adventure proves fatal and you don’t ever hear from me again, I want you to know you’re a great man. I now walk into the wild” (Krakauer 69). This instance in the book provides a clear demonstration that he was ‘running away from something at the same time running towards something’. It is imperative to note that, he was not prepared or ready for the adventure that he set for his life. His foolhardy actions provide a clear reflection of this.

Initially, his running away plan appeared to be reasonable and very much effective. It is stated that, “I was a raw youth who mistook passion for insight and acted according to an obscure, gap-ridden logic” (Krakauer 155). This shows that Chris had a similar outlook. He toured all over America and had a lot of different experiences, for instance, he worked in a Burger King, at some point he partied and had fun with hippies and all along his way along he was hitchhiking. Chris was able to move to any place he desired and wanted at almost no costs. Such experiences appear to demonstrate that Chris sought a life that was quite fulfilling to him. He was like a tourist. During this time it could be presumed that he was running after an easy life without troubles and full of freedom to be wherever he wanted at whatever time he wished. In this case, it could be argued that he was running towards something.

On the other hand, Chris was running from something due to the fact that while at home with his family there were very many difficulties. As the his life story slowly unfolds in the book, it is revealed that his life in the hands of his parents from the period of his childhood was damaged due to instances of violence, discord and state of inadequacy. His parents had a very volatile relationship which affected his so much. Furthermore, Chris was detached from his father hence his childhood experiences together with his sister are characterized by hardships and uneasy way of life. The kind of personality that Chris had did not appear to mesh well with the atmosphere in his family. It is stated in the book, “He had fled the claustrophobic confines of his family” (Krakauer 55). Chris felt that his home did not provide him the comfort and welcome he needed or rather wished to feel. Upon discovering that together with his sister they were products of a love affair turned sour he felt as if he was comparable to a bastard child. He had a lot of contempt for his family. This is a clear indication that Chris was running from the unfavorable atmosphere in his home which made his life harder.

As much as Chris was running away from difficulties and troubles in his life, he also was running seeking to have a new life. It could be argued that he could have actually run from troubles at home without necessarily moving to the wilderness. Chris had many alternatives to consider that would enable him hide from his family. Nevertheless, his imaginative nature took charge of the situation. In his mind he pictured a lifestyle and an approach to survival which he could not resist but make attempts to implement. His dream and thoughts made him to want to have a new experience and test the extent to which his boundaries lay. Basically, he believed that he was able to do something beyond his ability. It is stated in the book that, “Chris had a dream and he went out and fulfilled it” (Krakauer 57). Therefore, besides Chris running away from a life of misery, he was also targeting something to achieve, a life of comfort.

Running from and towards something is simultaneously demonstrated in Chris’ life. This is evidenced by the fact that Chris runs away seeking to have a new way of life without being properly prepared. “He was mistaken to think that had everything in place” (Krakauer 170). Before his adventures he did not have the understanding and knowledge about bad versus good nature. He held onto the belief that the only food he could eat was food prepared beforehand. He did know that there were important tricks that he needed to be aware of as far as surviving in the wild is concerned. Lack of preparedness was therefore a major problem for Chris. This is what made him to blunder and eat a plant that was edible. Furthermore, Chris was not aware that there was a gauging station quite close to where he was. This was an opportunity for his life to be saved. He had the opportunity to cross the river and align his relations with the civilized world. From the book is stated that, “No longer to be poisoned by civilization he flees, and walks alone upon the land to become lost in the wild” (Krakauer 163). Chris foolhardily decided to go the wilderness which means that he was both from and towards something.


In the book Chris is presented as a typical young individual who wants to have a change of life whereby he resorts to an adventure. It is crucial to note that, he did this in reckless manner. The kind of consequences that he encountered during his adventure clearly shows that he decided to do something that he was not at all ready for. His encounters shows that as much as he was running with the aim of finding a positive life, he was as well running towards a life that he could be impressed with. It is presented that he was not ready to have a life in the wilderness. He was running towards a calamity which is something that he could not be aware of. As much he had some training he was not able to predict his in the wilderness. At this point, it can be argued that Chris was never ready for the adventure that he set in front of him regardless of what he was running to or form. From the book, it is clearly demonstrated that whatever Chris was running from and that which he was running towards have equal importance. This balance between the two opposite perspectives is what shapes the gist of the book. It is quite clear that he was running away from the difficult life in his family.

As discussed herein, Chris and his sister suffered a lot in their family due to the love between his mother and father. When life at home became unbearable Chris felt that he was open for an adventure and seek a new life. He therefore decided to run away from misery in his home. On the hand, he was running to something from the perspective that there is what he dreamt and imagined he could achieve. He appeared not to under estimate himself. However, he recklessly approached his adventure hence his downfall. His experiences in the wilderness demonstrate that he was running to something though with a positive perspective appeared to yield negative consequences. The two impulses therefore, appear to have some kind of balance.

Work Cited

Krakauer, Jon. Into the Wild. New York: Anchor Books, 1997.

October 07, 2021


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Adventure Into The Wild

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