Book Review: Jon Krakauer’s “Into the Wild” Essay
Book Review: Jon Krakauer’s “Into the Wild”
In writing “Into the Wild,” Krakauer’s intention was to uncover the facts (or at least get as close to the facts as possible) surrounding Christopher McCandless’ journey “into the wild. ” Krakauer discusses and presents theories and explanations about McCandless’ reasons for going off into a potentially fatal journey, and also presents investigations into how McCandless came to such a state in his life. Krakauer gives us some idea of the direct cause of McCandless’ death, and his reasons for doing what he did.
Krakauer aims to give readers with invaluable insight into the mind of McCandless—how McCandless came about the idea of going to the Alaskan wilderness, what his motivations were, how he planned and managed to survive the grueling trek, and most importantly, “why? ” The author seeks to understand what happened to McCandless in the wild, and to explain why someone so full of promise, who seems to have such an ideal life and much of all that he could ask for, could do what McCandless did.
However, Krakauer does not presume to be certain about McCandless reasons, but he presents some very good explanations and allows us to understand McCandless’ mind even more. By revealing many things about the reasons behind McCandless’ death, Krakauer shows us that McCandless was far more than a simple and reckless fool who wasted his life. McCandless, who was an intelligent young man, went off into the Alaskan woods to “find himself” and to reunite with nature. He was heavily influenced by the literature he had read, to such an extent that he became, most of all, a man in search of himself and of a purpose in life.
In order to really “find” himself, he felt it necessary to cut all ties from society, from his family, and reinvent himself as Alexander Supertramp, thus cutting his ties with his old identity. Whether or not he found what he was looking for in the wild is open to speculation, however Krakauer describes McCandless’s psychological terrain by including anecdotes and quotations from people who were in a similar state of mind as McCandless, as well as drawing parallels with his own life as a mountaineer and adventurer.
Each chapter presents different tales from others who have been in the same road as McCandless, people who have also sought the solitude of the wild. Krakauer also interviewed people who have come in contact with McCandless during his journey. By the end of “Into the Wild,” the readers gains significant understanding of McCandless’ personality. Whether McCandless was brave or foolish, his journey of self-discovery is something that almost everyone can relate with and understand on some level.
However, while the book is accessible to anyone who could have some interest in the controversial life and death of Christopher McCandless, it is most geared towards those who have sentiments similar to those that McCandless held regarding society, nature, and how to live. “Into the Wild” helps us understand McCandless’ character, although by the end of the book, it is still up to the reader to decide if McCandless was “right” or “wrong” in having done what he did – whether he was courageoeus or merely foolish.