Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Final Reflection

Into The Wild is a riveting book which brought me as close as possible with a character so detached from society, his distance from traditional culture gave me such curiosity. Though I didn’t favor the format of the writing, the first chapter reveals the outcome of the book without the character being aware of the outcome, therefor ruining that desire to uncover the outcome. Thus illustrating situational irony. Chris McCandless wrote his journal entries in third person omniscient demonstrating a sense of isolation or detachment from himself or society as a whole. In the book Night by Elie Wiesel, the characters speak in third person displaying a loss of self-identity, thus exhibiting an effect of dehumanization: “Ten days and nights of freight trains and hitchhiking bring him to the great white north. No longer to be poisoned by civilization he flees, and walks alone upon the land to become lost in the wild” (163). Yet when Chris McCandless realizes the severity of his predicament, when he feels that sense of fear, that natural feeling of mankind he begins speaking in first person: “S.O.S. I need your help! I am injured! I am all alone, this is no joke. In the name of god, please remain to save me…” (198). This idea of dehumanization, depriving a person of their human attributes is evident throughout both memoirs.

Title Significance

The title into the wild addresses Chris McCandless enduring expedition into the dense tundra of Alaska , his journey into an uncultivated and unpeopled region: “And what magnificent county I have seen-wild, tremendous wasteland stretches, lost mesas, blue mountains rearing upward from the sands of the desert, canyons five feet wide at the bottom and hundreds of feet deep, cloudburst roaring down unnamed canyons, and hundreds of houses of the cliff dwellers, abandoned thousands of years ago” (92). Chris McCandless describes Alaska’s terrain directly as he witnessed it.  McCandless persistent struggle for survival included the lacking of certain adequate supplies, clothing, hunting tools, and durable boots. Clothing needed for warmth, hunting needed for food availability, and boots needed for protection. These necessities are some fundamental essentials for physical survival. Chris McCandless went into the harsh land of Alaska in attempts to gain, yet in actuality he died due to the conditions.
The implied meaning of the title into the wild concerns the obscure and merciless wilderness. The entering into the unknown wild, although he adores the wilderness, it is that which kills him. Chris McCandless’s struggles have brought him much uncertainty: “Day 100! I made it! But In weakest condition of life, death looms as a serious threat. Too weak to walk out, have literally become trapped in the wild!-No game” (195). Upon entering the wilderness, Chris McCandless was na├»ve in the sense that he thought he could overcome any obstacle which stumped him, taking risk to an extreme: “I’m absolutely positive I won’t run into anything i can’t deal with on my own.” (6). in doing so, he entered the wild unprepared: “His [Chris McCandless] gear seemed exceedingly minimal for the harsh conditions of the interior” (5). This indicates that Chris McCandless is not prepared nor is the wild accommodating.

Emotional Reaction

At the onset of the memoir I was under the impression that Chris McCandless had a more open-minded outlook on life.  I believed he was merely a voyager who was eager for excitement, and rather overestimated his abilities to live in the wild.  As if his quest was to enlarge his experience in life; something he found boring: “I simply felt in myself a superabundance of energy which found no outlet in our quiet life” (15). Yet as I read on it become clear that his stubborn ways drove him to begin this new life for himself; his inability to be a part of society. He was not searching outward for a new reality; instead he was running away from his current reality.

Within the book, there exists a great tension between Chris McCandless and his parents; their rigid relationship caused Chris McCandless to flee:"I'm going to divorce them as my parents once and for all and never speak to either of those idiots again as long as I live" (pg). Krakauer reveals a prevalent cause which drove Chris McCandless out into the vast wilderness. Chris McCandless’s animosity towards the conventional middle class way of living is evident: “NO LONGER TO BE POISENED BY THE CIVILIZATION HE FLEES, AND WALKS ALONE UPON THE LAND TO BECOME LOST IN THE WILD” (163). Chris McCandless rejection of family values makes this book that much more disturbing while also being intriguing.  The way he misled his parents into thinking he was receiving their letters, allowing him time to flee and not be discovered exhibited a strong sense of disregard for his parents. The desire to cause pain to his parents is not something I can understand nor do I condone his actions.  

Passage Analysis

Chris McCandless doesn’t navigate his life through strict reason: “If we admit that human life can be ruled by reason, the all possibility of life is destroyed” (87). Reason is the mental power concerned with forming judgments, though reason is necessary, the quote suggests that reason cannot dictate one’s life. The possibility of life is exemplified by the triumphant joy in which one gets from unforgettable experiences, the experiences in which Chris McCandless cherished. The quote emphasizes that although reason provides one with security and safety, it is that in which one must risk to find the true meaning of life; the bliss in life comes from our encounters with new experiences. The quote indicates that Chris McCandless decided to follow his spirit without hesitation; he dedicated the remainder of his life to the trill of adventure
                Joseph Campbell, an American mythologist, writer and lecturer, gave emphasis to the idea of following your bliss. Campbell’s idea has relevance to the main theme of Into The Wild through Chris McCandless intensions when stepping foot into the wilderness north of Mc.Kinley. Chris McCandless understood if he subscribed to the idea of following his bliss he would live a life of exactly that. Chris McCandless modifies his reason in order to live freely: “I wanted movement and not a calm course of existence. I wanted excitement and danger…” (15) Chris McCandless is an aesthetic voyager who gave up everything of value to climb Alaska’s interior.
Chris McCandless begins on his odyssey with high expectations regarding his enlightenment: “It is the experiences, the memories, the great triumphant joy of living to the fullest extent in which real meaning is found. God it’s great to be alive! Thank you. Thank you” (61). Chris McCandless unaware of his end result assumed his mental and physical strength alone could protect him in the harshest circumstances. Yet in actuality, he was killed because of his lack of reason, illustrating irony. Thus, demonstrating indirect characterization, this quote indicates that Chris McCandless is a determined yet fearless explorer.  

Initial Impressions

     Upon beginning Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer I anticipated it to be a portrayal of a troubled individual who goes on a voyage in search for enlightenment through exploration. Yet I question how close Krakauer can get to another person's ambitious soul. Such motivation and betrayal must have caused Chris McCandless to abandon everything to start over on territory which he knew nothing about. And  this is why I chose this book, to get as close with this dissimilar character as possible. I am excited to analyze both his reason and behavior throughout my reading. Though I have failed to read Jon Krakauer's work before, Into The Wild was recommended to me by a handful of people of different interests. This may be the start of a Krakauer obsession! The author's perception is accompanied with Chris McCandless journal entries, revealing his innermost feelings, justifications, and involvements.
     I look forward to learning about Chris McCandless reason behind his behavior and hopefully Jon Krakauer will address the turning point within Chris McCandless life where he came to the conclusion that mankind is not good by nature. Also, I wonder what about the wilderness of Alaska captivated him, why he was so determined, why he had climbed to the highest extent to reach the harsh climate of Alaska. I can not imagine what would cause someone to make such a drastic move, yet I can appreciate his free spirit.