The true story of a soul desperate for adventure
By Zoe Maki, Staff Writer
“Into the Wild,” written by Jon Krakauer, is a non-fiction book based on the life of adventurer Chris McCandless, also known as Alexander Supertramp. Upon graduating Emory University in Georgia, McCandless decides he has grown tired of functioning in a society based around money and success. He donates all of his savings to charity, burns the items in his wallet (including his money, license, and social security card), and begins driving West with no destination in mind.
Almost immediately after he leaves on his journey, his car is damaged in a flash flood, and the rest of his unknown journey is spent hitch-hiking or traveling on foot. He spends two years meeting unique individuals, traveling the country, and having breathtaking experiences on a daily basis. However; he decides his ultimate goal is to reside in Alaska and after two years of travel and preparation, he heads North only to be faced with the harsh reality of surviving in the wild.
In this novel, Krakauer attempts to follow the breadcrumbs left by McCandless after his untimely death in the harsh Alaska winter. In doing so, he includes numerous interviews by those who encountered Alexander Supertramp as well as any documentation he left behind. This includes the journal he kept, photos he took, and letters he wrote. In one letter written to Ron Franz, a good friend of McCandless, the reader begins to see the logic behind his unethical way of living.
The letter reads: “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, all of which may appear to give one a peace of mind, but in reality, nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”
By reading this novel, the reader begins to question their own thirst for adventure within life. A new perspective is developed, and one is left to admire the freedom and experiences that Supertramp was able to achieve. The book is filled with a plethora of information and artifacts involving Supertramp, but it also includes the discoveries that Krakauer made while following in his footsteps.
Though the author gives personal information on himself throughout the book, he leaves the opinion of Supertramp’s life to the reader. He sticks to interviews and letters so that the reader is free to decide if Christopher McCandless is selfish and arrogant or bold and brilliant. However; the never ending series of facts causes the reading to be slightly dry and boring. It is a book full of facts as opposed to an actual story line. At times it becomes hard to follow due to its lack of a timeline; it often switches back and forth between the story of Alexander Supertramp and the story of Jon Krakauer. Instead of putting Supertramp’s story in chronological order, he tells the tale in the order of which he found the information.
Due to its contemplative content, “Into the Wild” was turned into a major motion picture of the same name. Portraying the same story line, many people may enjoy viewing it rather than reading it, but it is a good comparison between the real life events that took place.
Overall, “Into the Wild” is an endless supply of documents and artifacts that may become tedious and dull to the average reader. However, McCandless’ story will leave a lasting impression on anyone who ventures to read it and the reader will likely gain a new perspective on happiness and success.