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Into the Wild' and How Society Effect Essay

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Authority is a fundamental mechanism that undoubtedly plays a profound role in numerous aspects of modern society. It can be seen within governmental hierarchies, social relationships, as well as organizations. The majority of people tend to accept, or at least tolerate the various forms of authority encountered in everyday life. However, some find difficulty conforming to authority figures and symbols of authority that influence and exert control over their lives. Such is the case with Christopher McCandless in Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild. Chris is highly opposed to structured environments and those who attempt to restrict his freedom. To assert independence from his parents and society, he ventures across the country, with minimal resources, living a nomadic lifestyle. His journey takes him to Alaska, where he ventures into the wilderness and subsists off plants and animals before ultimately perishing in an abandoned bus. A major component of Chris’s character is his resistance to authority or anything that he determines to be redundant. His distaste for a monotonous lifestyle under authority bears a striking resemblance to a state of mind that I adopted in first grade. Over my first academic year in elementary school, I rapidly developed an extreme animosity toward school, teachers, and virtually every adult. I made every effort to exempt myself from routine and subjecting myself to any form of authority. Additionally, I questioned the purpose of nearly every facet of society, from school and jobs to money and laws in general. Chris and my first-grade self possessed an insatiable desire for autonomy and hatred for symbols of authority which can result in short-sighted or imprudent courses of action such as a complete disregard for assistance, evasion of structured environments, and repulsion from materialism.

Chris and I display similar behavior when people we view as authority figures try and offer us help or guidance. During my first-grade phase of defiance, I refused to accept guidance from any person in a position of authority over

Authority is a fundamental mechanism that undoubtedly plays a profound role in numerous aspects of modern society. It can be seen within governmental hierarchies, social relationships, as well as organizations. The majority of people tend to accept, or at least tolerate the various forms of authority encountered in everyday life. However, some find difficulty conforming to authority figures and symbols of authority that influence and exert control over their lives. Such is the case with Christopher McCandless in Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild. Chris is highly opposed to structured environments and those who attempt to restrict his freedom. To assert independence from his parents and society, he ventures across the country, with minimal resources, living a nomadic lifestyle. His journey takes him to Alaska, where he ventures into the wilderness and subsists off plants and animals before ultimately perishing in an abandoned bus. A major component of Chris’s character is his resistance to authority or anything that he determines to be redundant. His distaste for a monotonous lifestyle under authority bears a striking resemblance to a state of mind that I adopted in first grade. Over my first academic year in elementary school, I rapidly developed an extreme animosity toward school, teachers, and virtually every adult. I made every effort to exempt myself from routine and subjecting myself to any form of authority. Additionally, I questioned the purpose of nearly every facet of society, from school and jobs to money and laws in general. Chris and my first-grade self possessed an insatiable desire for autonomy and hatred for symbols of authority which can result in short-sighted or imprudent courses of action such as a complete disregard for assistance, evasion of structured environments, and repulsion from materialism.

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Chris and I display similar behavior when people we view as authority figures try and offer us help or guidance. During my first-grade phase of defiance, I refused to accept guidance from any person in a position of authority over me, especially my teachers. My hatred for school intensified within an exceptionally short time frame until it reached a point where I would frequently cry or simply remain in my seat and stare blankly. I refused to participate in any activities or follow instructions from the teacher which resulted in me constantly being sent to the principal. Eventually, when my behavior failed to improve, I began to routinely see a school counselor. She tried to help me to the best of her ability but I dismissed every bit of advice that she offered and shut down any approach she would take at trying to help me. Even when she gave decent advice, I refused to listen to her proposals or compromises regarding my newfound hatred of school. Chris McCandless displays a clear correlation to my rejection of guidance in many of his actions. A prime example is when Jim Gallien drives Chris to the Stampede Trail. During the ride, Gallien observed Chris’s limited resources including cheap hiking boots, ten pounds of rice, and a .22 caliber. Gallien tries to dissuade Chris from going into the wilderness by informing him of the many dangers he could encounter such as raging rivers, hostile mosquitos, and the threat of grizzly bears. Despite his efforts, nothing he says can sway Chris. Gallien says how Chris, “…wouldn’t give an inch.” Chris’s refusal to heed Gallien’s warnings and my neglect of my school counselor both demonstrate how because of our desire to not be controlled, we ignored potentially sound advice that could have benefited us later on. I ignored advice from my school counselor that may have helped me to overcome my hatred of school. I refused to listen solely because I suspected she had ulterior motives and only desired to make me conform in whatever way possible. Chris rejects Gallien’s advice because he does not want to be told what to do and craves ultimate freedom. Had Chris and I acknowledged the help we were given, our situations may have turned out differently. I could have overcome my anti-school mindset months earlier and McCandless may not have suffered his fate had it not been for our stubborn mindsets.

Avoidance of structured environments and a thirst for complete freedom a similarities expressed through the actions of McCandless and my first-grade self. Toward the end of the first-grade year, about a few weeks into my stage of hate for authority, my grade went on a field trip to Legoland, California, which was only thirty minutes away from where I lived at the time. Inside the amusement park, the children were split into many smaller groups with a single volunteer parent as the chaperone. I had been to Legoland countless times before and knew the park inside and out. This, combined with my new rebellious tendencies in opposition to authority and being controlled, prompted me to sneak away from my somewhat irresponsible chaperone and venture through Legoland on my own. Naturally, once my chaperone realized what had transpired my disappearance was reported to the park staff. It wasn’t until over an hour later that park authorities spotted me and we were forced to chase me down. The motivations for my actions during this situation are fairly simple. I strongly disliked being forced to adhere to the rules of an authority figure in a place I was most likely far more familiar with. More than anything, I wanted to have total independence and control over my actions of what to do and where to go. My decision proved that I did not see the bigger picture, because I ultimately gained nothing from actions other than additional consequences. This experience is incredibly similar to a specific instance in Chris McCandless’s travels when he was employed at a McDonald’s in Bullhead City, Arizona. Chris had an annoyance with wearing socks but was forced to do so due to McDonald’s policy. After his shift, the first thing Chris would do is take off his socks. George Dreeszen, the assistant manager, noted Chris’s routine of taking off his socks was, “kind of like a statement, to let us know we didn’t own him.” In both these situations, Chris and I wanted to send a message of defiance, Chris to his superiors, and I to my chaperone, that we were independent and could make decisions free from their influence. Another event during my problematic time in first grade was when I quit taking karate lessons. I had been taking karate lessons before I could even form complete sentences and had had enough of my strict instructor who advocated discipline. My parents were alarmed at my decision and tried to force me to continue, but only met more resistance. This experience correlates to a specific instance in McCandless’s life when he quit playing the french-horn for his university band. McCandless’s sister says that part of the reason he quit was that, “…he didn’t like being told what to do…” This was the exact reason that I quit taking karate lessons, which was because I disliked my strict instructor. In each of my experiences as well as McCandless’s, we share the common trait of not being able to function in situations with rules set in place or someone else in charge.

One unique feature that Chris McCandless and my first-grade self share is disapproval of materialism. In my first grade year, I developed somewhat of a distaste for materialism and even the capitalist system. This resulted from a system that my teacher employed where she would print fake money and award these fake dollars to those that demonstrated good behavior or performed well in activities. This was when I was just beginning to develop strong feelings against authority and school. I argued with my teacher over her fake money system frequently, claiming her class money had no real value and that I could print it myself. I was convinced she just wanted to control and restrict our freedoms. One day, I took a twenty dollar bill out of my teacher’s purse when she was occupied elsewhere. I caught my teacher's attention, holding her twenty-dollar bill in one hand and one of her fake class dollars in the other. I proceeded to explain how she utilized her fake money to control us the same way the school paid her real money to control her. I then showed her both dollars in my hand and ripped both of them to shreds. My thought process of how the currency system functioned as a controlling mechanism is similar to the ways Chris McCandless treated money and material possessions. The clearest example of Chris’s viewpoint toward materialism is when he is near a part of Lake Mead called Detrital Wash. After burying his possessions for later recovery, Chris proceeds to burn $123. This illustrates that the value Chris places on money and the materials it can buy is much lower than the average person. Chris and my first-grade self saw money as a representation of the control of society. We both saw the capitalist system as a means of restricting people’s freedom and forcing them to lead dull and mundane lives. McCandless is also said to have been influenced by Jack London, who had a “fervent condemnation of capitalist society,” which further supports the notion that he was opposed to materialism. However, both Chris and I’s actions were unnecessary and imprudent. I gained nothing from ripping apart my teacher’s money and Chris certainly helped no one by burning his. Our actions were fueled by our resentment of the materialism and authoritative power that money represents. We were inclined to make unnecessary or even foolish decisions because of our inner resentment for authority and control.

My first-grade self and Christopher McCandless developed a strong hostility towards authority which led to irrational actions and decision-making, including rejecting help from others, an inability to cope with restrained freedom, and a distaste for material possessions. Many of the decisions McCandless and I made were unnecessary and rash. Neglecting the entirety of my school counselor’s advice and McCandless not disregarding the advice of Jim Gallien may not have been the best course of action. I may have been able to function better in school and McCandless may still be alive if our mindsets had not been so stubborn. The instances where I ventured into Legoland by myself to gain freedom as well as when McCandless removed his socks while he worked at McDonald’s were also not the most rational decisions. I wanted to send a message of independence and Chris was perhaps trying to do the same to his managers. Again, these decisions are unnecessary and could be handled in a better way. The final experiences when I ripped my teacher’s money and Chris burned his, were easily some of our most careless decisions. Unlike when Chris donated his $24,000, burning what money he had served no purpose and was only to portray his antagonism toward the capitalist control of money and materials. Likewise, it was not reasonable to render somebody else’s money truly worthless. Each of these examples from McCandless and I’s lives exhibits how our strong-headed mentality led to unwise choices due to our resentment for authority and need to demonstrate our independence. Had we been more lenient and rational in our ideologies, we could have avoided some negative consequences and even created better lives for ourselves in our present situations.

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Into the Wild’ and How Society Effect Essay. (2024, February 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 22, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/into-the-wild-and-how-society-effect-essay/
“Into the Wild’ and How Society Effect Essay.” Edubirdie, 09 Feb. 2024, edubirdie.com/examples/into-the-wild-and-how-society-effect-essay/
Into the Wild’ and How Society Effect Essay. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/into-the-wild-and-how-society-effect-essay/> [Accessed 22 Feb. 2024].
Into the Wild’ and How Society Effect Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2024 Feb 09 [cited 2024 Feb 22]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/into-the-wild-and-how-society-effect-essay/
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