Into the Wild

by Jon Krakauer | Biographies & Memoirs |
ISBN: 0385486804 Global Overview for this book
Registered by A-Starr of West Chester, Pennsylvania USA on 9/4/2007
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by A-Starr from West Chester, Pennsylvania USA on Tuesday, September 4, 2007
A fascinating, frustrating story. Given his effect on the people he met, Chris McCandless must have possessed great charisma. Or maybe it was "Alexander SuperTramp" who had the charisma. Many people seem to view Chris/Alexander as a dreamer-adventurer trying to live noble ideals. Others found him insufferably arrogant, foolish, or possibly disturbed.
I initially questioned if Chris/Alexander was truly seeking his great adventure, or running away from conflicts he chose not to confront; punishing his parents with his disappearance and refusal to contact anyone. There seemed, to me, an aspect of cruelty (at worse) or utter selfishness (at best) to his behavior. Chris/Alexander left a lot of pain in his wake, and not just within his family. As the story progressed, I started to have the uncomfortable feeling that Krakauer was inadvertently romanticizing and elevating the actions of a disturbed individual into some kind of profundity. I suspect Krakauer felt too much empathy for Chris to seriously consider that something was way off, since he briefly addresses and quickly dismisses the thought. This demonstrates how much of himself Krakauer read into and invested in McCandless. Throughout the book, Krakauer rationalizes increasingly questionable behaviors and decisions with more than a few logical contortions, and when anyone expresses doubt, he (and Chris' admirers) fall back on the old "you just don't understand!" argument.

So...naive or arrogant, uncompromising or foolish, impossibly high-minded or sadly disturbed? Did Alexander SuperTramp, in a manner of speaking, destroy Chris McCandless? Every reader will walk away with a different view, and it seems anyone who reads this book has a strong reaction one way or the other. No matter what anyone concludes about McCandless, the fact remains that his actions profoundly, forever affected the family who clearly loves him, despite their dysfunction or troubles. They are the ones who must live with the outcome of his choices, and there's absolutely nothing noble or idealistic about that.

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