One may say that Chris McCandless was an arrogant fool considering the decisions he made throughout his short life. Others may say he was an incredible inspiration and should be honored beyond his death for his choices. McCandless may have made some questionable choices within his journey, yet he was nothing less of an inspiration to those who feel that they have not ‘found themselves’ and deserves respect for the impact he has made. Although he is respectable, he also had ample flaws that may have led him to his tragic ending.
Instead of being seen as narcissistic and arrogant, McCandless could be seen as an idealist.
He believed that reality was past the everyday life that he was living, and he could find reality within a transcendent phenomenon. Although he was told multiple times not to go through with the lone journey to Alaska, McCandless stuck to his decision and did not take into account the advice he was given by many.
Unlike most, McCandless was not influenced by the people in his life. He strived on his own idea of life rather than what is taught and learned throughout society. The indifference McCandless felt in his everyday life was what led him to pursue his inspirable journey that was scrutinized by Krakauer and others.
Even as a youth, McCandless showed signs of being an idealist. Walt McCandless, Chris’s father, took Chris on a backpacking trip every year. One year Walt took Chris and his youngest son to climb Longs Peak in Colorado.
When they reached an elevation of 13,000 feet, Walt decided it was time to turn around. “Chris wanted to keep going,” Walt recalled. “He was only twelve then… If he’d been fourteen or fifteen, he would have simply gone on without me (Krakauer page 109). ” This ambition Chris displayed to climb the mountain even when he was young showed his different outlook from most younger children to the more challenging aspects of life.
This must have been a point of realization for Chris. His journey had been in the making even from such a young age. Gaylord Stuckey claimed “It was something he’d wanted to do since he was little (Krakauer page 159). ” These idealist-like ambitions had reflected on the choices Chris made as an adult. Chris McCandless had refused to just fit in with those around him. Instead of listening to what others had for an opinion on his choices, he did what he wanted to do. Even when McCandless was offered luxuries such as food or a place to live, he would only stick around for a very short period of time, then be on his way.
McCandless’s father even noticed the strive for difference in his son. “He didn’t think the odds applied to him. We were always trying to pull him back from the edge,” said Walt McCandless. The way Chris refused to blend in with society even with the pressure surrounding him to fit in was a respectable quality in his personality. Many of those who connected with Chris on his trip also saw him as a respectable man. Even though he had refused their offerings and left quickly without much communication, they never saw him as arrogant or prude. Even though McCandless had been incredibly respectable, he also had weaknesses, or flaws.
One of these flaws was over-confidence. Before his trip to Alaska, Chris donated $25,000 to charity, ditched his vehicle and most of his possessions, and burned the rest of his cash. By doing this, McCandless demonstrated his idealist quality. Instead of thinking of reality, he made impulsive decisions to satisfy his spiritual self. McCandless also did not prepare for his trip as he should have. He went without bringing a map and brought very little amounts of food with him. By refusing to bring a map, he made it a very difficult trip back for himself that may have cost him his life.
He had been offered supplies by multiple people he had met on his way, but refused most of them. McCandless relied too greatly on himself and nature for a trip that needed well thought out planning and devising. For enduring what many could not imagine, pursuing his childhood intents, and refusing to fit in with society, Chris McCandless was nothing less than respectable. Even with his flaws that led him to his death, he stayed true to himself and didn’t give up. All in all, Chris McCandless deserves recognition and respect for his enthusiasm and inspirable story.
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