There was a man who embarked on a journey in one of the most frigid and glacial areas in the entire world. That man was Chris McCandless. Critics will claim that McCandless was a delusional fool who traveled to Alaska just to have his life cut short. While others claim that he was a brave young warrior who traveled to Alaska but was not able to survive long enough to find his purpose that he came to the state to search for. Chris McCandless is a young adventurer who was attempting to fulfill his destiny on his expedition however his life in Alaska was cut short because of his lack of preparation.
Chris McCamdless was more than just a young man who searched to find freedom on his peregrination in Alaska. People are familiar with a man such as this. It took McCandless a lot to get to the place where he was at. There are reasons as to why McCandless was influenced to go into the wild. One of McCandless’s influences was literature. Particularly the works of Jack London, Leo Tolstoy, Henry David Throeau, and others. Their writings on nature and society flooded McCandless mind with a whirlpool of ideas.
A man could go on the same journey as McCandless, but what sets that person apart from McCandless is the additional recognition,criticism and remembrance that McCandless had behind versus the person taking their journey. The media has a pattern of portraying people who go on these types of journeys as lost causes. There are also people that the media gives attention to that go on the same journey but complete their expedition and they are seen as national heroes and receive their share of fame and accolades. It goes to show that even though McCandless did not achieve much, he is still remembered today as either a hero or a fool.
Jon Krakauer argued about the issue of the “bush casualty” stereotype attributed to McCandless. Krakauer writes that ‘McCandless didn’t conform particularly well to the bush-casualty stereotype. Although he was rash, untutored in the ways of the back country, and incautious to the point of foolhardiness, he wasn’t incompetent-he wouldn’t have lasted 113 days if he were. And he wasn’t a nutcase, he wasn’t a sociopath, he wasn’t an outcast. McCandless was something else-although precisely what is hard to say. A pilgrim, perhaps” (Krakauer 85). The stereotype would probably be defined to McCandless as some who didn’t just go out to the wilderness to die but someone who was preparing for this adventure for his entire life. He wasn’t foolish, he was exploring nature while exploring himself.
McCandless felt like society turned against him. Which might have made him flee from his family. He was done accepting gifts from his family. McCandless graduated from Emory University with honors. Krakauer saw from the people that he interviewed that McCandless was brilliant but he lost his edge once he refused the resources that would help him to stay alive. This is more than just a man of strange character, this was a man who defied the rules of society. He retreated to solitude and he was satisfied that his lifelong dream was coming true.
McCandless went on his journey, but his parents saw it as a tragedy that he vanished. The mere fact that McCandless refused to have any communication with his parents showed his true feelings towards them. McCandless’s feelings towards his parents were justified. Since McCandless was an adult, people like him would be likely to be on their own instead of being in the care of their family. Whether people accept it or not McCandless had a right to settle on his own. Instead of going to his home that he grew up in, McCandless found refuge in a home that he found in the middle of nature. He lived in an abandoned bus. He hunted for food and survived on what he had for a transient time. His physical shape might have deteriorated and his search for food became scarce when he refused to eat animals that he shot but McCandless realized after years that the animals contribute to the wild and it wasn’t fair for him to eat what people consider an amazing spectacle to the wilderness.
Earlier in the essay it was stated that it took McCandless a lot to get to where he was at. The reason for that was because McCandless went through several states and cities to get to Alaska. In most of the states that he was in, he did not have a place to stay. Although in other states he did stay with a couple of people and was able to hold down a couple of jobs. All the while he was gaining experience that drove him towards his relentless quest of reaching Alaska.
Krakauer recalls certain people in the story who McCandless made an “indelible impression” on (Krakauer 35). Ronald Franz is one of those people. Franz like others who McCandless came across was caring towards him and wanted to give McCandless some guidance before his migration to Alaska. Not only did Franz impact McCandless but Jan Burres had some influence on him as well. He helped the Burres by working at their flea market and in return he was given items that would help him in Alaska. He left their presence and continue his push to Alaska.
Once he arrived in Alaska, he got some help from other people who drove him to the parts that he requested. People such as Jim Gallien who drove McCandless to the part where he would remain for the rest of the time before his death. McCandless although he was in the wilderness by himself did not go through this journey alone. The people that went through it with him were the ones who aided him. They took the time to assist him and give him what he needed. Whether it was resources or experience it helped him survive for a duration of time.
Not everyone is fit for survival in a place of cold temperature but McCandless was. McCandless did whatever it took to make sure he could get to the place where his journey could begin. McCandless persevered by fighting debacles in other cities. Fighting homelessness, hitching rides, and being employed. Some who criticized McCandless weren’t aware of his plan. McCandless’s plan succeeded regardless of his death. Parts of the plan that McCandless executed was having food. The food was what he found in the wild and the ten pound bag of rice that he carried with him.
Another part of the plan was shelter. Before he reached Alaska he lived with certain people. Once he reached Alaska he found refuge in an abandoned bus and kept all of his necessities. He was able to protect his fortress despite being in a forest surrounded by animals and tall trees.
McCandless read books by Jack London, Henry David Thoreau, and others. The authors that McCandless read went on their own journeys or lived in the wilderness. Jack London was part of the Klondike gold rush and based some of his stories in winter settings. Henry David Thoreau lived in a log cabin near a river in Concord, Massachusetts. He authored a book titled Walden based on his experiences.
Chris McCandless was not a fool for finding his purpose in the wild. It occurred to him that he had to isolate himself in Alaska in order to carry out his survival tactics in Alaska. No person who ever expressed their feelings to Krakauer about McCandless could fathom what he really felt inside. McCandless took a picture of himself sitting next to the abandoned bus where he was living. The evidence is evidently clear that McCandless was satisfied with where he was. His death was more than starvation. McCandless wasn’t prepared for what was to come, despite being in the wild for the time being.
In the end, McCandless became an embodiment of not just as a simple adventurer but a warrior. He was on a quest and he succeeded regardless of his death. He had a plan for how he was going to survive and his plan was executed. Half of the plan did not come into the picture because of his refusal to do certain aspects in order to guarantee long survival.
His life was meaningful. Besides being a hiker he left behind a legacy that is talked about to this day. McCandless did not just step into the wild to die. He carried food with him which was the ten pound bag of rice. He also hunted for animals or anything that looked like food such as plants, leaves, etc. He found shelter in an abandoned bus where he kept his necessities and items. He kept arms which was the rifle that he had with him which made hunting for food easier. McCandless might not have learned everything there is to know about what’s safe in the wild, but all those years he spent around the public built up enough courage in him to explore the wild.