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Representation of Chris McCandless's Adventures by Jon Krakauer: Philosophy Essay

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McCandless’s adventures throughout the film represents issues faced in society today. Are we idolised by the technologies or companies of others? Obsessing over how we are viewed by society, even for those, our peers who care so much about us. Early on it was visible that McCandless wasn’t infatuated with such items that consumed his parent’s world. In the film McCandless discovers about himself the true meaning of life, or what really does consume our society? Was McCandless really an outsider holding onto bottled up emotions that ultimately lead to a nervous outbreak or a sudden epiphany/realisation. Existentialism is broadly seen throughout the film and Chris’s journey, as he questions his existence and those who surround him and takes part on a journey on what is suspected by some that believe he was in attempt to reach a minimalistic lifestyle.

Jon Krakauer’s, into the wild exceeds existential thoughts and the human desire to live existentially. Different aspects of ones live may give purpose. Is it god and religious aspects, money or family? Everyone has their own sense of purpose in life. A sense of meaning is something that we all crave or even need. Devotion and time are spent into finding our meaning, whether intentional or not. This can be found through religion, fighting for social justice, educating others or seeking beauty in artistic expression, in McCandless’s case he found himself within nature and a minimalistic life. There is a group of philosophers, the existentialists that focus on the research into the human mind is specific details that surround our purpose of existence that an individual may desire. ‘So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, nothing is, more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man then a secure future’- Christopher McCandless. To what extent does Chris reject society to live this lifestyle. McCandless was naïve and ignorant to believe he only needed himself. I feel as though McCandless was trying to detach himself from that toxic environment this was at the cost of his own mental stability. Were his hallucinations and him outwitting his own mind worth it? Psychology says that part of human nature’s default mode is to be social, which gives us a need to belong, patients that feel lonely have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, with high levels of stress in this area can lead to sickness, ultimately being social is just as important as exercising and eating well. Was McCandless arrogant in the fact the he set himself up for mental deterioration, by leaving his family behind. Chris, the protagonist, after graduating college, burns his belongings, including his money. This symbolises that Chris was so easily able to burn what suffocates and consumes society today. He sets off into the ‘wild’ as it suggested this will burn the entities within him and free himself from this toxic lifestyle. Existentialism is practice within into the wild as it’s the acceptance that we fear death, rather not to accept this but to live it, as this is was Chris McCandless does.

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“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom’. McCandless knew himself, however due to the pressures from those around him including his parents he was unable to explore these themes. There were times throughout the film where McCandless felt free and with joy, was this his wisdom, his freedom if you will. I feel that McCandless was lucky to have found his wisdom. He found this through exiling himself from others. McCandless alienated himself from distractions, furthermore, helping him reach a minimalistic lifestyle which he so badly craved. McCandless felt as though he was living a lie not his true self. He was on search through his journeys to pick apart who he really was, and with this he was able to compare his past life to his now more so minimalistic life, however crumbling in the end. What does it mean to live? What are we really searching for in life, or in this case what was McCandless searching for in his life? Perhaps McCandless wasn’t mesmerised by the meaning of life itself but how we live our life, McCandless had everything he wanted going for him, good education, money to help assist him in his career choice, however is this how he really wanted to spend his future? I feel that McCandless felt trapped, he felt as though he wanted to live, he was living to be a slave in our society. We question if McCandless was searching for the answer throughout his journey, or whether he didn’t know what he was in search for and in fact he was running because he was scared. He didn’t know how to grasp what to do with his life and maybe the pressures of society were too overpower.

McCandless through his journeys was unable to find his true nature, by surrounding himself with today’s society this could not be applicable, through this he exiled himself from distractions that consume those around us. During his quest he questions his existences and various existential thoughts/realisation comes to play with McCandless’s mind. McCandless never found who he was, his desperation took the better of him, ultimately leading to death. Comfort comes from the fact that Chris was joyous through being in Alaska and for those he met in this journey, which ultimately shaped him as a human being. McCandless’s desperation and naïve mindset is what left him to deteriorate his own mind, body and soul in the end. His ignorance is what overtook his last few weeks of life. I think that McCandless so desperately wanted to escape the ‘dark’ entities that surrounded society today, so much as it’s safe to say he had a deep hatred and despised the way his peers and surrounding family acted over money and reputation. However, having said this, McCandless was able to reach a goal of minimalism and exiling any unneeded wants that were so often craved such as technology and wealth.

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Representation of Chris McCandless’s Adventures by Jon Krakauer: Philosophy Essay. (2022, July 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 5, 2023, from
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