Fool or Hero? Into the Wild is a book about a young man named Christopher Johnson McCandless, who had a very bright future but threw it all away by hiking into Alaska unprepared and alone. Chris McCandless can be labeled a hero, somebody to be admired or a fool. He can be called a hero because he showed people through his own actions how to live free and not be controlled. He can be called a fool because he had a good education and a bright future but he chose to go unprepared into the wilderness and risk his life and eventually die.
In April of 1992 Chris who grew up in a well to do family, decided that he wanted to hitchhike to Alaska and walk alone in the wilderness of Mt. Mckinley. Before Chris decided to do this he had a nice future ahead him. He graduated with honors from Emory University in the summer of 1990. Chris was smart and he was an elite athlete. Right after he graduated he disappeared. “What no one knew- was that he would shortly donate all the money in his college fund to Oxfam America, a charity dedicated to fighting hunger” (Into the Wild: Pg. 20). He also burned all of his cash, abandoned his car and basically started his life from scratch. Chris also told the strangers he encountered that his name was Alex. Because of this his family couldn’t trace him and find him.
Although Chris foolishly did go out into the wild without any experience or any method to survive he can be considered a hero/someone to be looked up to. By trying to hike in Alaska he showed people that they can live their lives however they want to, be independent and make their own decisions. Through his actions he is truly showing what independence means. No matter how many people tried to stop him from trekking in the wilds he would never give in. Chris tells Ron, a retired army veteran who he meets in his travels, “ Look Mr. Franz, you don’t need to worry about me I am not destitute, I am living like this by choice” (Into the Wild, Pg. 51).
He was always motivated to be independent and didn’t let anyone make decisions for him. Chris also tells Ron, “you should make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt” (John Krakauer, Into the Wild). By saying that he is telling Ron to explore the world, not to listen to anyone else and go wherever his heart takes him. Chris can be looked up to if they get his real message. Chris wasn’t necessarily saying people should hike to Alaska but he was saying that everyone could control their own lives.
There are many reasons why Chris McCandless is a fool for both ruining his life and getting himself killed. He was a good student in school and could have had a very bright professional future, but he rejected graduate school. He was a well-known athlete so he could have had friends but he didn’t want any. He had a savings of 25,000 dollars and he just gave it away. He could have used the money to live a regular life. Instead of living life like a normal person he decided to disappear without telling his family and hike to Alaska. Even the way he travelled was foolish. When he started his hike alone his odds for surviving were already low because it’s almost impossible to hike through Alaska alone. He was even more foolish because of the lack of supplies and food. He only brought a bag of rice to eat. The gun that he brought wasn’t powerful enough to take down a grizzly bear or any bear if he saw one, so he was not able to protect himself. So Chris can be known as a fool because he underestimated the value of education, family and didn’t prepare properly for surviving in the wilderness of Alaska.
In some peoples eyes Chris is a hero and in others Chris is a fool. He got himself killed by hiking to Alaska but at the same time he was sending a positive message out to everyone. Chris is saying that “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” (Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild). Although the way Chris tried to prove his point made him look foolish he was only doing it for good reasons. People never understood why Chris threw away his life, but that’s because Chris only did what he wanted to and he showed us by example how to be in control of our lives.