Death into the Wild Essay
Death into the Wild
Into the Wild was Jon Krakauer’s best selling non-fiction novel about the adventures of Christopher McCandless. In essence it was an expansion of his earlier work entitled “Death of an Innocent” which appeared in the January 1993 issue of Outside. The novel chronicles the experiences of Chris McCandless, the 24-year-old nature enthusiast who left his suburban Washington, D. C. , home in 1992 for a wilderness trek through Alaska’s backcountry.
Equipped with a 10-pound bag of rice, a small-caliber rifle, and not much else, McCandless fashioned himself into a modern-day American Adam determined to explore the nation’s “Last Frontier. ” The excursion, however, came to an abrupt end four months later with McCandless’ emaciated corpse discovered in an abandoned school bus not far from the boundaries of Denali National Park. Into the Wild presents Krakauer’s account as to what drove McCandless to such a fate.
Between the time of its appearance in 1993 to its publication as a book in 1996, Krakauer’s story elicited numerous responses, including many from Alaska residents who derided the author for glorifying what they saw as nothing more than a young man’s folly. For these readers, McCandless represented just another ill-advised individual who ventured unprepared into dangerous country in the hope of discovering answers to his life, which was merely met by “mosquitoes and a lonely death” (72).
As I reckon such a perspective fails to account for the significance of Krakauer’s novel within the genre of narrative non-fiction. In lieu of this, what follows is an explication of the role of Krakauer’s methodology in the process of explicating the story of McCandless into the wild. Narrative non-fiction takes the form of a documentary as far as it opts to elucidate the objective conditions underlying the formation of a particular situation. A literary work within the genre of narrative non-fiction may thereby be understood as a “creative treatment of actuality” (Carroll 154).
The aforementioned notion works on the assumption that literature may be able to shape reality creatively through the introduction of an artistic dimension within a literary piece. Such a dimension however, which necessitates the introduction of an aesthetic aspect within the text contradicts the foundations of works of non-fiction which involves the maintenance of objectivity within the text. Objectivity in this sense is assessed through the author’s general appraisal of the events presented within the text.
In that sense, objectivity takes the epistemological form of objectivity wherein it understood as objectivity in judgment. Such a form of objectivity is maintained within works of non-fiction since such works are understood as the author’s account of an event. To understand a work as an account enables the application of fluidity upon the work since it is presented as open to interpretation as well knowledge and truth coercion. Such a process of truth coercion may be seen in Krakauer’s narrative of McCandless’ journey into the wild.
Into the Wild begins with a narrative exposition wherein the reader is introduced to the major characters of the story along with the necessary background information needed to contextualize the discovery of McCandless’ corpse. The beginning of Krakauer’s Into the Wild thereby is highly similar to the expository beginning of a novel. Such a beginning enables the skillful orchestration of a preconceived conception of McCandless’ story. It enables the conception of McCandless as an individual who ventured for the discovery of his self through the discovery of a presumed unknown territory.
Krakauer’s work thereby functions as a vehicle for the reader’s discovery of McCandless journey towards himself. Such a journey was enabled by the collage of various materials that enabled the factual retelling of McCandless’ life up to the point of his demise. The process of contextualization mentioned above was made possible by using materials from interviews as well as McCandless’ journal along with photographs, letters, and other secondary research materials that enabled the explication of the conditions as to McCandless’ adventures.
The use of these varied materials enabled the book to be a moving literary piece formulated through the combination of journalistic, historical, nature and travel writing, as well as memoir writing. It should be noted that these materials as well as the formation of the collage of the aforementioned materials were constructed by the author. Into the Wild thereby presents us with Krakauer’s account of the events. As I reckon, it is the construction of the narrative as well as Krakauer’s presentation of the account, which serves as his take into the events that governed McCandless’ existence.
Other individual’s perceived McCandless’ act as an act of folly however, Kraukaeur presented it in such a manner that it focused on the adventure and drama, which he perceives as intrinsic to the act of finding or discovering one’s self. Within the book, he represented McCandless as an extraordinary individual whose existence was governed by courage and skill evident in his demonstration of McCandless’ desire to survive within an unchartered territory.
Kraukauer’s analysis of the risks examined as well as the narrative structure of text presented Krakauer’s judgments as to the life that McCandless led.
Carroll, Noel. “Fiction, Non-Fiction, and the Film of Presumptive Assertion: A Conceptual Analysis. ” Philosophy of Film and Motion Picture: An Anthology. Eds. Noel Carroll and Jinhee Choi. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2006. Krakauer, Jon. Into the Wild. New York: Villard, 1996.