American Values In Christopher Mccandless's Into The Wild

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In America we have values, a person’s principles or standards of belief or what a person finds important in life. Throughout history, we have acquired values that are still present to this day. In A Narrative of the Captivity, Rowlandson loses her child and has to continue working to be able to survive. During that time period, work was not stable, she had to find people to do favors for to be able to earn money for food and water to be able to survive, whilst mourning her lost child. In Into the Wild, Christopher McCandless takes a life changing adventure to Alaska. McCandless encounters obstacles that teach him many lessons and strengthen his values. Throughout his journey he learns how to survive, while secluded from the outside world, and how to work hard for money to travel and obtain food. From Mary Rowlandson’s A Narrative of the Captivity to Into the Wild novel by Jon Krakauer, America holds onto these values of work and survival that appear throughout history and literature, although they evolved throughout time.

One of the founding values of America regarding survival is the need to live despite difficult circumstances. In A Narrative of the Captivity, Mary Rowlandson continues to strive through life despite the accident with her child and the difficult circumstances she is placed in. The mother is “fain to go and look after something to satisfy her hunger...”. She is desperate to indulge in food, for she had not eaten in days. After not eating in days and mourning over her lost child, she was enthusiastic to be able to obtain food. She was very thankful that she could have food and thanked the Lord several times for the good He had done for her. The narratives Into the Wild and A Narrative of the Captivity are similar in the aspect that Chris and Mary both have to survive. Chris, the protagonist of Into the Wild displays the struggle like so: “It was slow going. In order to feed himself he had to devote a large portion of each day to stalking animals”. Chris McCandless survives alone in Alaska for just over 4 months. Chris had to kill animals on his own, obtain plants that are safe to eat, and learn how to entertain himself. He prepares for his trek to Alaska by surviving on limited materials,

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“subsisting on nothing but five pounds of rice and what marine life he could pull from the sea, an experience that would later convince him he could survive on similarly meager rations in the Alaska bush”. Chris McCandless travels to Santa Clara and changes from this experience because he learns that he could live off of almost nothing. He goes more than twenty days without human interaction and barely any food. This gives Chris more confidence to live in the wild, which influences his decision to go to Alaska. These two pieces of literature show that the will to live is very important, although it has changed slightly because the human ability to survive has developed and become easier over time and as history has occurred, people have learned different ways to live.

Another foundational value leading to the upbringing of our country is work. Work is necessary for the essential purpose of obtaining money or supplies. In A Narrative of the Captivity, Rowlandson displays her struggle to do jobs for others and earn items to help her survive. Rowlandson explains, “There was a squaw who spoke to me to make a shirt for her sannup, for which she gave me a piece of bear. Another asked me to knit a pair of stockings, for which she gave me a quart of peas…”. Some people even had her do work for them and did not give her anything in return. Mary Rowlandson did her very best to endure through her tough times and continued to earn what was given to her. In this time period it was common to do favors or trades and that’s exactly what she did. In Into the Wild, Chris McCandless was a very hard worker. While working in Carthage, “McCandless worked hard, doing dirty, tedious jobs that nobody else wanted to tackle: mucking out warehouses, exterminating vermin, painting, scything weeds”. Chris was determined to do his best and earn his money.

Throughout his life, he worked at McDonalds, a grain elevator, and as a child enjoyed selling items around the neighborhood. In all of theses positions he demonstrated determination and hard-work. Chris was determined to earn his money and not just have it handed to him. Throughout history the value of work has developed and changed; work has become more specific for different people, it now has a generous array of options, and there are more rules and safety regarding it now. As history continues, the value of work will continue to evolve, and we will continue to see this change through literature.

Although time has evolved the values of America’s stances on enduring inconveniences and labor are presented in these pieces of literature. Early America had to strive more to preserve these values, they were not as blessed with what America has now developed to have. These differences are apparent aspects of Into the Wild and A Narrative of the Captivity. Chris traveled willingly, while Mary was just trying to survive; Chris had more stable jobs, in comparison to Mary, doing favors for items. As Americans mature as a country these values will become simpler to obtain. We as Americans have held onto these values. However, we will continue to watch these values evolve and expand.

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American Values In Christopher Mccandless’s Into The Wild. (2021, September 02). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 17, 2024, from
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