Synthesis Essay 'Into the Wild'

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‘Into the Wild’ is a non-fiction book written by Jon Krakauer. In the novel, the protagonist Christopher McCandless, is a graduate who decides to renounce all his belongings and goes on a hitchhike mission across America. Throughout his journey, Christopher comes across many circumstances that transform his personality. There are two interconnected plots involved in the story; one includes the psychological perspective of the character and the other one is the represented action which is carefully developed. The first half of the book revolves around Christopher’s journey into the wild while the other one provides insight into the personality transformation and motivation of the character. After he graduates from Ernoy University in 1922, Christopher decides to wander into the wilderness and leaves everything behind to hit the road. He explores different areas around until he reaches Alaska. At this point in the story, he fully enjoys the wilderness but eventually, he gets poisoned and gets sick. At this moment, he realizes that he does not want to stay here anymore because he feels lonely. Chris can be considered a hero because he took the risk of wandering into the wild where one cannot predict its outcome; he enjoyed what little he had to explore the beauty all around the world and through it, ultimately discovered the reality of life.

The question associated with the character usually is why? Why leave Alaska? Although Christopher frequently asserts that he hates the cultural norms of society and their love for possessions, in the end, he returns to the place he had once denounced. After he graduated, Christopher's parents offered him a car as part of his graduation gift. Christopher wonders why would they gift him a car when he already has one in use. This triggers him and the discussion turns into an intense argument whereby he accuses his parents of making him feel uncomfortable all the time. During one sequence of the book, Christopher says “Mr. Franz I think careers are a 20th-century invention and I don’t want one.” (Into the Wild). This statement reflects his dislike for possessions and the shallowness associated with them. However, it appears that it was not only the reason why he left. Moreover, it was his parents who influenced his decision. Chris’s father got married to Chris's mother while he was already married, and he even had a child from this wedding. It is also shown that Chris’ father is materialistic and has a love for material goods. His parents consistently fought over money when the money they had was sufficient. Chris’s hatred for possessions gains its strength from his parents' persistent love for money (Merkley). His parents would not take any time out for him as they were too invested in their own lives and in making money. They hardly had time to look after Chris and their parents were not even in love. It is safe to say that Chris was not happy with the lives his parents were living.

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It is more of a self-defense mechanism in the case of Christopher as he directs his emotions toward all the wrongs that continue to persist in his parents. As a young boy, he beats his little sister as an expression of anger towards his father. All he ever cared about was having a loving family, but his wish sadly did not come true. He lacked love in his life and mainly due to this reason, he blamed all the materialistic possessions which had disrupted his relationship with his parents. He also partly blamed society for turning his parents away from him and for pushing them into this. It can be explained better through attribution theory which implies that people are usually motivated to behave a certain way because they associate those behaviors with any situation. In Christopher’s case, the attribution is that why is he not happy? while the situation is that his parents argue all the time. Dispositions are that Christopher’s parents love money above all. This results in him not being happy because of the materials. However, over here He was only partially right. If he had realized the association then he should have tried to stay home and seek love, there instead of going into the wilderness.

A lot of people might consider Christopher suicidal or insane because he ignored all potential dangers that his journey could entail and disregarded the risk implications of his decision for other people. The author of the book, Jon Krakauer, takes into consideration an array of primary as well as secondary sources in developing the psychological aspect of Christopher’s character. As the character makes his way from Atlanta to California then later to Mexico and then back to Alaska, a trail of photographs postcards, and even graffiti is left behind by him. His communication sometimes comprised lengthy words, other times it was short and precise. His message usually consisted of specific yet haughty instructions implying that people should condemn their practice of hoarding money and possessions just as he is doing. McCandless kept a diary in which he would write in the third person suggesting that he saw himself as a character of some adventure story. He gives himself a nickname, preventing his parents from tracking and justifying his enactment of a character that is outside the established norms.

Throughout the story, the character Christopher appears to be a meticulous as well as a resolute reader. One of his books which serves as a guide to edible plants appears to be useful and practical which reflects his devoted behavior towards acquiring knowledge. However, the other novels such as that of Michael Crichton serve the purpose of entertaining the reader. Christopher’s intellectual and philosophical books help provide insight into his thought process and delineate his motivations. The annotated books of Christopher and the ones he left behind or gave to his friends reveal his values of independence and self-reliance. Many of his other books demonstrated his thought process that society is some form of poison. He highlights and stars some passages from the novels of Tolstoy and Pasternak which state the dangers associated with sex and falsehood. He also underlines the passages stressing the importance of self-reliance and maintaining a vegetarian diet from Thoreau's novel (Rosenthal). Through his readings. Krakauer portrays Christopher's character to be somewhat religious. However, this religious devotion turns into ecstasy when he starts comparing himself to either a monk or some other spiritual figure. The writer also presents this evidence that Christopher might have changed his perception about the social values of people yet he is still indecisive about it because he dies before he could find his way back to civilization.

Krakauer's exploration of Christopher’s relationship with other people can be broken down into two elements; The first one concerns his friends whom he meets along his journey while the second one revolves around his association with family and friends (Zink). Christopher seems to be reserved yet vocal about his opinions when he meets people on his way to the wilderness. He seldom reveals his name to the people and opts for ‘Alex’ or Alexander as his other name to go by He is a hard worker and occasionally he chooses to play the piano and through this, it is revealed to the reader that he has been gifted with music skills. Many drifters and outcasts are impressed by his ability to narrate stories whom he encounters during his journey. Chris can relate his frustrations about his family to his companions such as Wayne Westerberg and Ronald Franz. Simultaneously, he may sometimes also come across as absentminded or distant. On the other hand, his family labels him as a selfish, stubborn, and impetus person. These ambiguities in Christopher’s personality continue to add richness to his character. It is only towards the end that the writer Krakauer insists its audience evaluate the character of Christopher McCandless after he presents all the evidence

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