Was Chris McCandless Journey A Success?

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Many people have no qualms about making their dreams a reality, even though it means dying, and Christopher McCandless is one of them. McCandless's plot, on the other hand, is described as a since he forms a reverberating trend in the discussion of imagination and vernacular in folklore studies. McCandless is an ideal and well-timed case study for most folklore studies focused on an examination of the American Northwest. In most cases, he is portrayed as a hero on a journey that reflects North American culture. Even with the presentation of McCandless as a hero, the pertinent question is whether the man had a successful journey. The answer to this question lies on the analysis of the life and death of McCandless. Christopher McCandless had a successful journey for he was aware of what he wanted, followed it and left an outstanding contribution to life and literature today.
One of the most significant aspects that portray the success of the journey taken by McCandless is through his folk appeal. Whenever the tale is retold, McCandles appears as a hero almost synonymous to some of the greatest adventurers in history like Hercules. In fact, McCandless journey has remained as a story that has captured the interest of very many scholars who have an interest in literature (Weber 529). Through his life, most people have understood how a story develops through oral communication and spread by enthusiasts in various professions. It would be unfair at this point to ascribe the story of this young adventurer as one characterized as having minimal success. Even with his troubled childhood, McCandless left a reputation to be admired. Had he not decided to take that journey, it would have been impossible to talk of literature from some angles.
The success of McCandless' journey is evident in the numerous elements and themes that portray his joy in the decision he made. A major theme that reverberates throughout the life of McCandles is the impacts of social expectations (Weber 531). From last letter he wrote in his journal, McCandles appeared ready to die. In fact, he wrote the letter as if he had prepared to die in that manner as he said that he was grateful to God. Some would consider dying of starvation in a strange forest a horrible experience but McCandless was immensely happy from the letter he wrote.
It should be noted that McCandless had a childhood that was characterized by privilege ' financially well-off parents and a proper home and education. Yet he abandoned all these due to the oppressive nature and excessive expectations of his parents. Most people would have chosen to stay under the comfort of their parents but McCandless chose to pursue his passion. Instead of bowing down to social pressures like proceeding with his education, he chose a different life, one that came to make him famous due to his choice of life. He even went to the extent of adopting a moniker just so that he could be that he wanted to become. In fact, it appears he even chose not to start a fire as a way of instigating the rescue team to reach to him. Every move was not characterized by stupidity but some form of personal choice and brave nature.
Further analysis on the contribution of McCandless to the world of folklore shows that the life of this young adventurer captures the society, rejection of identity, and a journey not limited by anything ' aspects that form the best folktales in history (Dégh 19). One of the most important aspects that make up a folklore tale is the existence of a symbol of a traditional rite of passage. McCandless' journey portrays some sort of rite of passage especially as discussed in Krakauer's Into the Wild. A rite of passage is normally characterized by pain and independence. Nonetheless, it is an imperative culturally potent milestone in development that marks a point when an individual transits to a better and mature individual.
Several things that show the rite of passage in McCandless include; his separation from the society and parents, an unplanned and mysterious expedition to satisfy personal desires, and then the eventual return to the society with a different identity as a hero. In Folklore tales, these are characteristics that describe an era known as the 'liminal period' within which the roots of passage or rite are founded (Van Gennep 45; Dégh 20; Turner 69). From the analysis of the luminal period, Turner explains that an individual is tested; they remain in uncertainty (72). That period for an individual is not only frightening but intriguing too just like it was for McCandless. It is through his venture into the wild that folklorists can further understand the luminal period so his journey was definitely a success.
Throughout his lifetime, McCandles managed to surpass a number of struggles effortlessly portraying that his journey to the wild was an actual success. From travelers, to scholars in literature and even to folklorists among others, McCandless is ideal and most people glean to his carefree attitude. In fact, the celebration of his ideal life led to the physical enactment in the National Geographic documentary as well as through the book written by Krakauer. The bus where he died is now a tourist attraction site dubbed the 'Magic Bus' and those who revere his life take voyages to visit the place as a symbol of passing a certain rite in their lives. Clearly, McCandless' journey has inspired a legend and a following that he would not have obtained had he decided not to pursue his ambition.
For several decades since his death, most people have journeyed into the wild trying to live a life that is now classified as a pilgrimage. Middle class Americans are particularly known for their endeavors to fulfill what has now become a symbolic stage in life. Krakauer notes that the journey taken by McCandless is too important that it is now classified as a pilgrimage. It appears that during the journey many mistakes were committed but the whole idea was to ensure that other people do not land into similar problems. So far, most of the people who take the pilgrimage have not died or made the same mistakes as McCandless.
McCandless' journey into the wild was a successful one for he appears apt, happy and he followed his passion. Through his journey, he achieved more than what he thought he could as he has made a significant contribution into the social life of individuals today and literature. The appeal is also in the fact that he managed to surpass cultural expectations and difficulties to remain a legend. Through it all, he remains a hero due to that one step he took to pursue his passion of free living.

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Works Cited

Dégh, Linda. American Folklore and the Mass Media. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994. Print.
Turner, Victor W., and Edith Turner. Celebration: Studies in Festivity and Ritual. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1982. Print.
Van Gennep, Arnold. 1960. The Rites of Passage, trans. Monika B. Vizedom and Gabrielle L. Caffee. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1960. Press.
Weber, Donald. From Limen to Border: A Meditation on the Legacy of Victor Turner for American Cultural Studies. American Quarterly, 47. 3 (1995), 525-36.

July 24, 2021

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