Chris mccandless into the wild essays

Anon—Sorry for the lateness of this response. You have some good points and I’ve put off writing back because I haven’t had adequate time to properly respond. I’ll address your points one-by-one.

1. “You say that by equipping himself as he did he knew exactly what he was doing. I would respond by saying he obviously didn't. I think he knew what he was trying to achieve, but unless he was truly suicidal, which I guess we both agree he wasn't, he failed.”

McCandless picked one of the most wild and dangerous places on earth—a place he knew would challenge him like nowhere else. I believe he knew he might not come back. That’s not to say he was suicidal. I mean to say that he wanted a life-or-death struggle. And while it’s obvious he wanted to make it out alive, he was willing to risk his life in hopes of having a truly transformative experience. Whether he had that experience or not would, for me, determine if he succeeded or “failed.” I don’t think his success or failure should be measured by whether he lived or died.

2. “Most people would disagree with you that winding ‘up dead and missing on that mountain, that was no one’s business but my own.’ If you, or I, or anyone, are seriously injured or killed in the boonies, it's going to cause a whole lot of expense, anxiety and trouble for other people.”

I suppose it’s true that other people and institutions would get involved. But shall I make my life decisions based on how I think government institutions will respond? I believe parks should be wild and free, devoid of roads and facilities. I believe we should be able to walk in freely—die in there freely if we so choose—and walk out without ever having to sign a form. This, obviously, is not how parks are today so my dying—as you pointed out—would cause more chaos than I would like.

3. “People aren't ridiculing the dream, they are criticizing the bad decisions McCandless made while pursuing his dream.”

You have a point here. Yet, I do think there are a lot of people who are offended with the dream in the first place, while others—as you point out—are primarily flustered with his bad decisions.

4. “perhaps you meant he wasn't stupid, but chose to be ignorant. Otherwise it would seem to be self-contradictory.”

Yes, you’re right. That would have been a better way to phrase it.

5. “Was McCandles even in a wilderness? Wilderness: "An unsettled, uncultivated region left in its natural condition." He was living in a bus, on a trail that was good enough for the bus to have driven in on.”

While there was a bus and a trail, there was also a raging river cutting him off from civilization. I don’t think we should be too picky with what’s wilderness and what’s not. Was he then in “civilization” because there was a bus and a trail? Of course not. Thus, there is a wilderness-civilization-continuum, and I think most people would position McCandless’s setting darn-near close to “wilderness.”

It was probably an inevitable irony that, despite its best intentions, a production from the lower 48 would have some of the same difficulties in the Alaskan interior as its subject. Wayne Westerberg, a friend, the recipient of the postcard in which McCandless announced that the boy was walking "into the wild," was hired as a consultant and then as a union truck driver for the production. "There were lots of logistical problems shooting on location," says Westerberg, a former grain-elevator operator who is played by Vince Vaughn in the film. "We had to drive through four feet of water just to get between base camp and the shoot. We swamped a lot of vehicles and brought a lot back to the rental company in pieces." Then there were issues with the "wildlife": the trained grizzly stuck on the wrong side of a river who nearly needed an airlift, reindeer not moving on cue, trained wolves that didn't act wolfy enough.





In 1976, Walt was offered a job with NASA as an antenna specialist so they moved to Virginia and his mother worked as a secretary at Hughes Aircraft. Later Walt and Billie started a consultancy firm which became very successful. But it seems working and living together affected their marriage resulting in arguements in front of Chris and Carine which cause them to distance themselves from their parents.

Chris was a good student with A average grades and he was also a good runner leading a team of cross country runners.
But, he was very stubborn and strong willed. He would train his cross country team mates hard taking them on practise runs in places where it was easy to get lost. But he saw it as a challenge and saw running as a form of spiritual exercise. An example of his stubbornness was receiving an F for one subject becuase he refused to write an article in the particular way that the teacher had asked.

He graduated from High School in 1986 and shortly after took off on an solo adventure for the summer arriving back 2 days before he was due to start college. He arrived at college scruffy compared to his well dressed room mate. His room mate dropped out several weeks later but Chris went on to get exellent grades. He graduated from Emory University in 1990 but saw titles and honors as immaterial and irrelevant. Later he would say that university is a 20th century fad and not something to aspire to.

Shortly after graduation, he gave the remaining money from his education fund to Oxfam. The cheque written by Chris on 15th May 1990, totalled $24000. He then left quietly from home to begin his adventures and assumed the name Alexander Supertramp of which he got from the book The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp by William H. Davies from 1908. When asked by someone where his family were, he would reply that he didn't have a family anymore.


He travelled through various states of America in his car (which he left after it was caught in a flash flood) and by train, hiking, canoeing and of course walking. The challenge to himself was to travel with the least amount of belongings as possible and as little money as possible. He had no map and no agenda, just the will to travel.

His dream was the Alaskan adventure and he would tell this to those he met along the way. Some people he worked for on odd jobs would try to convince him to stay and some would insist on giving him supplies to help with the journey.
He seldom accepted.

He reached his final destination on April 28, 1992 in Fairbanks Alaska.

Four months later he would perish from a combination of errors and his body was found in an abandoned old Fairbanks
City Transit Bus numbered 142 which was located on the Stampede Trail.

He kept a journal along the way and took self portraits now and then. His final self portrait was a picture of him holding a farewell note in his left hand and waving with his right hand. He was but 30kg in weight and eventually died of starvation and possibly poisoning from fungus on some fruit he had eaten.

According to Krakauer, a well-nourished person might consume the seeds and survive because the body can use its stores of glucose and amino acids to rid itself of the poison. Since McCandless lived on a diet of rice, lean meat, and wild plants and had less than 10% body fat when he died, Krakauer hypothesized that McCandless was likely unable to fend off the toxins. However, when the Eskimo potatoes from the area around the bus were later tested in a laboratory of the University of Alaska Fairbanks by Dr. Thomas Clausen, toxins were not found. Krakauer later modified his hypothesis, suggesting that mold of the variety Rhizoctonia leguminicola may have caused McCandless's death. Rhizoctonia leguminicola is known to cause digestion problems in livestock, and may have aided McCandless's impending starvation. Krakauer hypothesised that the bag in which Chris kept the potato seeds was damp and the seeds thus became moldy. If McCandless had eaten seeds that contained this mold, he could have become sick, and Krakauer suggests that he thus became unable to get out of bed and so starved. His basis for the mold hypothesis is a photograph that shows seeds in a bag. Following chemical analysis of the seeds, Krakauer now believes that the seeds themselves are poisonous. [8]

Chris mccandless into the wild essays

chris mccandless into the wild essays

According to Krakauer, a well-nourished person might consume the seeds and survive because the body can use its stores of glucose and amino acids to rid itself of the poison. Since McCandless lived on a diet of rice, lean meat, and wild plants and had less than 10% body fat when he died, Krakauer hypothesized that McCandless was likely unable to fend off the toxins. However, when the Eskimo potatoes from the area around the bus were later tested in a laboratory of the University of Alaska Fairbanks by Dr. Thomas Clausen, toxins were not found. Krakauer later modified his hypothesis, suggesting that mold of the variety Rhizoctonia leguminicola may have caused McCandless's death. Rhizoctonia leguminicola is known to cause digestion problems in livestock, and may have aided McCandless's impending starvation. Krakauer hypothesised that the bag in which Chris kept the potato seeds was damp and the seeds thus became moldy. If McCandless had eaten seeds that contained this mold, he could have become sick, and Krakauer suggests that he thus became unable to get out of bed and so starved. His basis for the mold hypothesis is a photograph that shows seeds in a bag. Following chemical analysis of the seeds, Krakauer now believes that the seeds themselves are poisonous. [8]

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