The story Into the Wild is written by Jon Krakauer. It is a nonfiction book based on the adventures of one Chris McCandless. He is a twenty four year old who goes out to live in the nature with barely any provisions. He does not like society and wants a reprieve from it. What he probably did not think of was of him losing his life.
The book narrates the events through flashbacks. Chris is an intelligent man, a graduate of the Emory University at top grades, also an athlete. His parents’ careers are successful so they can afford to provide him with a good, comfortable life but he does not appreciate it. He only gets a degree due to his parents’ persistence and resents them for it even though it is only likely to help him in the future.
After his graduation, Chris cuts off all ties with his family which consists of his parents and a younger sister, donates a sum of $24,000 to charity and begins travelling to the unknown. He does not leave any message behind for his loved ones. He does not tell them about where he is going or what his future plans are. To stop all communication with one’s parents due to a disagreement seems to be quite a big step, not to say that it is unfair to them. So he found out about his father having a child with his first wife after Chris was born to his second wife – that is a legitimate excuse to be angry. Then his parents sort of force him to pursue his studies and the boy agrees. Chris is furious, that is all well and good, but completely cutting off all contact seems to be quite a major reaction. He never thinks of his parents, what they would be feeling when they would find out that their son had gone missing. It was not necessary for him to meet them once a month or anything but he could have sent them post cards or letters to let them know that he was alive and well. That would have helped them not worry much. Better yet, he should have talked things through, tried to work out his relationship with his parents or friends. Not facing the problems he had with his family was not a courageous thing to do. Leaving them behind did not solve any issues. He had a sister who adored him and was heartbroken on learning about his death. He had a mother who stopped praying when she “lost him”. All this just for him and he did not even care.
Honestly, it seems like Chris does not use his so called intelligent brain. Going out to live his dreams is wonderful, sure, but he should have thought up the details. Leaving the comfort of his home and not even taking proper gear with him seems like a suicide mission and he did end up dying anyway. Just taking a sack of rice for food is stupidity. Not taking a map or a compass is downright insanity. He has no idea where he is going and he, inevitably, starves to death four months after he ditches his car and burns the rest of the money he has. His corpse is found a few days later.
Chris wanted an adventure; he wished to do what he liked with no reserves, no interferences, and no thought for others. He lost his life due to this attitude. His death just gave us a story to read, to argue over whether the steps he took were heroic or not. His family was the one who grieved. He was the one who suffered and died. All that potential lost to nothing. If only he had thought things over, he need not have taken such drastic steps. He was not comfortable living a comfortable life, so he could have used his degree to get a job. The money earned could have been used to help out the poor. Just heading off to Alaska did not help in either improving his relationship with his parents nor was he able to make the lives of the unfortunate better. He just gave up his life and this sacrifice was of no use to anyone.
Whilst reading this book, one is unsure of what to think about the main character. One does not know whether to brand him as being brave enough to head off in the wild alone, or to call him stupid for not taking anything helpful for him. One does not how to react to what he does. But, in the end, if one is forced to think over it, I would say that Chris should not be called a brave person. The acts were of stupidity, selfishness and recklessness. Of course, he must have believed in what he was doing, but he should have been practical and reasonable about it. If he had, he might have been alive right now.
Krakauer, Jon. Into the Wild. Anchor, 1997.