Into the Wild' Summary Essay

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What causes isolation? While there are many reasons as to why someone would choose to isolate themselves, Into the Wild analyzes the meaning of life over the form of isolation. Into the Wild, a novel written by Jon Krakauer, tells the story of a boy named Chris McCandless, who runs away from home and decides to go to Alaska, but he is originally from Virginia. He is an intelligent and driven man who deals with life better than living alone and within nature and is trying to find true happiness through solitude and nature, instead of finding it in society. Chris McCandless chooses to isolate himself from others because he wants to explore the unexplored and discover a life without possessions, people, responsibility, and money. However, doing so led him to his death. McCandless also believed that he had to abandon the restriction of civilization and society to truly experience the beauty of life.

In Into the Wild, the narrator starts by describing a small town outside Virginia where a truck driver stops for a hiker named Chris McCandless who asks for a ride to Denali National Park so that he can live there for a couple of months. The narrator continues to talk about Chris McClandless’s graduation ceremony which was one day before Mother's Day. McCandless also writes a letter to give to his family saying that he will disappear after graduation. The narrator shows us that Chris McCandless has always been curious and wants to leave behind his old life to go into the wild. He wanted to experience what it was like to go out and be free, as well as try to find peace within himself through happiness in the form of solitude and nature. Furthermore, the narrator states that Chris McCandless went as far as changing his name to Alex Supertramp because he didn't want anyone to find him. By changing his name and assuming a new identity, it represents a new stage in McCandless’s life. It also emphasizes the fact that there is no going back for him and the main plot, which traces his journey into the wild. Despite changing his name, the narrator also claims that his camera was broken and he doesn't know where he is. This meant he was in complete isolation.

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The narrator goes on to describe McCandless abandoning his yellow car because it got caught in a flash flood while his parents were out searching for him. They received a ticket for the car from California and hired a private investigator who discovered that Chris McCandless has donated his money to charity. Then he hiked from Lake Tahoe to the Sierra Nevada Mountains and caught a ride to California, where he bought a canoe with a new plan to navigate the Colorado River from California to Mexico. He does all of this to be in a state of isolation where no one can reach or contact him. Furthermore, his parents even hired private investigators to track him. In turn, he dedicated himself to a life on the road. This goes back to his argument of wanting to leave society to truly experience the outside world and to be free. His goal was to live a life without people, possessions, responsibility, or money. While he travels from state to state, he doesn't care about anything other than getting to where he needs to go. He worked at a farm in California as a means of gaining money to buy a boat, so that he could go to Mexico. These actions go to show that he doesn't look back and just continues to keep moving forward with his life. He is willing to do whatever it takes to be free.

One major theme or point the narrator tries to get across is that people are better off and more self-driven when they are alone. After going into complete isolation, McCandless frees himself from society and finally reaches Alaska. He found true happiness after going through the journey. When he finally reaches Alaska, he ends up dying due to starvation and the cold temperatures. Although he died, it was not all in vain because he achieved true happiness and peace through solitude and nature. According to the American Psychological Association, loneliness levels have reached an all-time high, with nearly half of 20,000 U.S. adults saying that they're always feeling alone. While McCandless did die of starvation, it was because he was isolated from society and there was no one present to tell him to eat. To further add to this, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that there has been research that has linked social isolation and loneliness to higher risks such as weakened immune systems, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and sometimes even death. While Chris was a victim of society because of his death, he did achieve his initial goal of being free, even if it meant costing him his own life. It is understandable as to why Chris wanted to isolate himself and be alone. He wanted to get away from everyone and everything because he had a different outlook on people. He believed that people are just individuals who serve as equals and have no respect for one another. Throughout the entire journey, he met several new people and influenced them to do exactly what he did, which was to lead a peaceful and carefree life.

In the end, Chris McCandless chose to isolate himself from others because he wanted to experience and discover a life without possessions, people, responsibility, or money. And while it cost him his life in the end, readers can assume that he probably did not regret any of the decisions he made along the way. McCandless believed that he had to abandon all forms of civilization and society to truly experience the real meaning of life. He essentially achieved what he set out to do in the beginning.

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Into the Wild’ Summary Essay. (2024, February 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 30, 2024, from
“Into the Wild’ Summary Essay.” Edubirdie, 09 Feb. 2024,
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