Chris McCandless was stuck in the wild. No food, no water, no compass. He was all alone. What if this was you? What if you were in this situation? In the book, Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer, this is that crazy situation. Chris McCandless was deep in the Alaskan wilderness and struggled to survive. He used his instincts and his incredible knowledge of the wild to help him. This essay will be about Krakauer’s story about how Chris McCandless was a survivalist and how he uses foreshadowing, irony, comparison, and flashbacks to better the readers understanding of the death and battle with nature of the main character, Chris McCandless.
Chris McCandless grew up in a wealthy, well educated family. He loved being outdoors, and was fascinated with the wilderness. Chris and his father had disagreements all throughout his life as a child and teenager. When Chris graduated college, he went on the road. He left everything behind that he ever had. He began to hitchhike throughout North America. He hitchhiked from the coldest parts of the country like South Dakota to Mexico. He survived by living on the edge, by living like our ancestors. Living like animals in the wild. This all began the main part of the story. This begins how Chris McCandless, A.K.A Alex Supertramp, began his struggle with life and death and how he survived for so long in the North American wilderness.
Jon Krakauer compares Chris McCandless to many other characters that achieved the same fate as Chris McCandless when he tried to survive in the Alaskan Bush. Krakauer chose these characters that all tried to choose their own destiny and live life the rustic, dangerous way. They all have one thing in common; they don’t make it out of the Alaskan wilderness. He compares McCandless to three characters: Gene Rosellini, John Waterman, and Carl McCunn. There are many reasons why he compares them to McCandless. These people all went to the Alaskan Wilderness and tried to live life to the fullest, and live life how they wanted to. The main reason why Jon Krakauer made these comparisons is because it showed how each of these people had mental or physical illnesses, and/or a mental or physical weakness or disability. This is one of the ways that Krakauer uses comparison in the novel.
Chris McCandless was a survivalist because of his preparedness. Chris McCandless didn’t have hardly anything to help him survive in the wild. “He had no axe, no bug dope, no snowshoes. The only navigational aid he had was a tattered state road map he’d scrounged at a gas station.” Chris seemed unprepared and foolish to most people, but he was resourceful. Chris McCandless was no ordinary survivalist. He wanted to live off the land and he wanted to be as basic as he possibly could by using hardly any tools. When Chris went to Alaska, he took next to nothing with him. He took a backpack with 5 pounds of rice, his clothes, and a rifle. Everything else was taken from the land and was used to help him survive. When Chris paddled his way to Mexico, he survived on almost nothing. The climate was barren, and he only had one oar for his canoe. This he overcame and he kept going in the wilderness. He did all this just to prove he could do it. Several people offered him things such as clothing, food to take with him, money, and many other things. He never accepted it, and he could’ve survived easier if he wasn’t so stubborn and would accept the offerings. This all ties into one of the most prominent literary devices used in this novel. That is irony.
The literary device that Krakauer uses is irony. He uses this to tell about when Chris McCandless graduated college, he donated all of his money to an anti-starvation organization. This is ironic because Chris unknowingly will pass away from a similar fate in the Alaskan wilderness. The anti-starvation organization that Chris donated to is OXFAM America. “What Walt, Billie, and Carine didn’t know when they flew down to Atlanta to attend Chris’s commencement – what nobody knew – was that he would shortly donate all the money in his college fund to OXFAM America, a charity dedicated to fighting hunger in America.” It is also ironic that Chris McCandless worked so hard to go to Alaska in the wilderness, but it eventually ended up in his death. Chris went through so much to get to Alaska, and he worked harder than anything, but being stubborn eventually caught up to him. It is also ironic that Chris McCandless kept great spirits even when he was near the end. “Malnutrition and the road have taken their toll on the body. Over 25 pounds lost. But his spirit is soaring.” Chris was always positive during all of his adventures. He lost 25 pounds, yet he still was in great spirits. He looked to the bright side. He was living his dream. “I have had a happy life, and thank the Lord. Goodbye and may God bless all! Then he crawled back into the sleeping bag his mother had sewn him and slipped into unconsciousness.” Even in his deathbed, Chris McCandless kept good spirits. He was where he had always wanted to be: Alaska. This is so ironic, because of the fact that he is dying, and is in a great mood. He has a good outlook on his life, and he thinks it was worth it.
Jon Krakauer uses foreshadowing to reveal Chris McCandless’s story about struggling to survive in the wilderness. “He was a big eater. Never left any food on his plate. Never.” He also never knew when his next meal would be. He would always eat as much as possible to cover for him going long periods of time without any food. This is an example of foreshadowing in the novel.
The final literary device used in the novel is flashbacks. Krakauer uses flashbacks to tell the story of Chris McCandless’s survival throughout North America. For example, in the third chapter; it tells the story of how Chris McCandless is working in Carthage. Krakauer waits until chapter 16 to tell the rest of the story about him departing Carthage. This is just one example of many about how the story jumps around and does flashbacks from the present to tell his story. His story is never told in order.
These are the literary devices that are used in Into The Wild. Foreshadowing, flashbacks, comparisons, and irony are used. This essay went into detail on the importance of these literary devices. Chris McCandless was a survivalist and he has a story that should teach everyone. He taught us to keep a good outlook on life and do what makes us happy.