Christopher McCandless: Hero.
It was a tragedy that Christopher McCandless died in Alaska; but he was not wrong in rejecting American society and what it stood for in the modern day. Jon Krakauer’s book, Into the Wild, tells the true story of Christopher McCandless and why he left his home and his family and how he managed to survive for so long after he left. The book deals with the people he meant and grew close to, and his impact on their and other people’s lives. Chris decided to leave all the deceit and lies within his own family.
He chose to leave all his material goods behind and use only what he thought he absolutely needed. He left the world he knew as a young, rich man on his way to law school to become a street urchin in the wild. He left Chris McCandless and became Alexander Supertramp. Within his own family, there was a web of lies and deceit that would have made Richard Nixon look good. His father had another family with a ex-wife and children that Chris didn’t know much about. One summer, he took his Datsun up to the town in which he grew up. There he found his father’s ex-wife and her children and did some math.
He figured out that it would have been impossible for his father to be completely loyal to his current wife and his children (Chris and his sister). His father had most certainly continued having relations with his ex-wife after he and Chris’s mom had been married. Chris could barley look at his father and was ashamed of him and the rest of the family who knew about the other family and had failed to tell Chris. Chris was right to leave all of that behind, try to move on and be his own person. I believe that once Chris had done some exploring and cooled down quite a bit, he would have gone back to see his family.
Chris left all of his money to charity when he left and took little with him to Alaska. He wanted to go through his journey using few supplies and using only what he knew or could gain for himself. He did this because he wanted to escape the material world that his father and mother had created for themselves and that he, up until his departure, had been caught up in himself. I believe that what he did was necessary for him to feel better and for him to be happy in his life. I think it was very brave of Chris to have the courage to do this.
Krakuer writes “He buried his Winchester deer-hunting rifle and a few other possessions that he might one day want to recover. Then, in a gesture that would have done both Thoreau and Tolstoy proud, he arranged all his paper currency in a pile on the sand – a pathetic little stack of ones and fives and twenties – and put a match to it. ” (Chapter 4, page 29). Chris burned his money and buried his possessions so he could be free of the material bindings that were weighing him down. He wanted to experience the freedom that Thoreau, Tolstoy, and countless other have felt.
Chris was very brave in leaving his material goods behind, and I admire that bravery and his attitude towards the wild. Chris left behind his education and decided to become an outdoorsman. At the time he studying to become a lawyer at law school. He was an extremely intelligent young man and he had a great deal of potential. Wayne Westerberg said “You could tell right away that Alex was intelligent, Westerberg reflects, draining his third drink. ‘He read a lot. Used a lot of big words. I think maybe part of what got him into trouble was that he did too much thinking.
Sometimes he tried too hard to make sense of the world, to figure out why people were bad to each other so often. ” (Chapter 3 pg. 18). He stated that Chris often tried to comprehend people and why they were bad to each other. I think that it was difficult for Chris to be a lawyer because often the attorneys have to be cruel and judgmental towards other people and that was something that Chris had a very hard time doing. He was a kind, idealistic young man who was just plain nice by nature. I think that if he had become a lawyer he would have regretted it and found a way out.
Chris had an extremely big heart and that is something that everyone should admire. He wanted to escape from law school and exiting into the wild seemed to fit perfectly. In that way he left behind not only law school, but also all of the other problems and issues that were slowly destroying his character. McCandless’s choice to leave behind the life he knew to become Alexander Supertramp was most certainly worthy of admiration. It takes tremendous courage to do what Chris did and though he did not make it out his journey alive, he will go down in history as a hero to some, and a fool to others.
I choose to think of McCandless as a hero, and someone to be applauded. He chose the life of a adventurer over the life of a successful and wealthy lawyer. He should be admired for his choices and by many he is. The people who execrate Chris will always be around, as will the ones who admire him. I admire McCandless for his choices, and I will encourage others to do the same because what he did is certainly worthy of recognition. He sought to be true to himself, an admirable goal for all.