Introduction: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
When was the last time you went on an adventure? Have you ever been on an adventure? Why go on an adventure you ask? Because of the experiences you will have during the journey. I must admit that I have not been on any real adventures in a while, but I have been on a few virtual ones. During Month Five of the Read the World Extreme Reading Challenge, one of the requirements is to read a book about someone’s journey. I read Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. I was tempted to say what a wasted life, but who am I to make that judgment? But when you think of Chris McCandless, he packed a lot of living in his short life.
The Content: Why Go on an Adventure: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer is a true story based on the life of Chris McCandless. Many children, once they reach a certain age, rebel against their parents. And that’s natural. They think they know everything, until they realize that they do not. Chris McCandless, went much further, he essentially rejected his parents. He adopted the name Alex. And for two years, his parents didn’t know where he was, until one day, they got the news that no parent wants to hear – their son was dead.
After completing his degree at Emory University in Atlanta, McCandless had itchy feet and wanted to travel. His ultimate destination was Alaska. When he left, he gave his parents the impression that he was returning in a few months. He didn’t even let them know that he was angry with them. He donated his trust funds, and set on a journey that ultimately cost him his life. He met a lot of people along the way, and he had the time of his life. He learned how to live simply, and it reminds us that we can do without a lot of the things we think we MUST have.
McCandless kept a journal, which documented his travels over the two years his parents didn’t know where he was. Jon Krakauer reconstructed McCandless’ journey, and that’s what Into the Wild is about. He was able to do this with the help of McCandless’ family and some of the people whose lives he touched while on his adventure. Jon Krakauer was compelled to write about the young man’s short life because he saw some parallels with his own life. The author pointed these out in the book, and also wrote about parallels with Everett Ruess, who also had an unlucky end.
Although Chris McCandless was not equipped for his journey to Alaska – didn’t have the proper map or gear – he was able to last 16 weeks, which most people would not be able to do. It seems as if he died from poison. The poison made him too weak to get food, so he starved to death. There was a lot of goodness in this young man, because he touched the lives of so many people, and they experienced his kindness. This proved helpful when Jon Krakauer was reconstructing the journey because people were very open and willing to talk about the young man they knew as Alex. The author went to the location in Alaska where Chris McCandless died, but he went with others, which is the sensible thing to do. Later, he took McCandless’ parents there, and they were able to get some peace of mind, and come to terms with their son’s death.
As I was reading Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, here are some thoughts that came to me:
Lessons from Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
- Don’t isolate yourself from your family and friends.
- Chris McCandless seemed larger than life.
- There are many dangers to being overconfident, and always wanting to do things your way.
- The young think they will live forever.
- Look at the lives of the authors whose works influence you. You may be surprised by the disconnect between the written words and the real person. Jack London influenced McCandless, and the young man liked Call of the Wild. He also loved Leo Tolstoy and Henry David Thoreau. When Thoreau took a break from society, he lived for two years and two months, in a hut he built in a wooded area of Walden Pond near Concord, Massachusetts. McCandless should not have used Thoreau as a reason for doing what he did.
- Learn to forgive others. He was angry at his parents because he thought they were hypocrites. After his father, Walt McCandless, divorced his first wife, and got together with Chris’ mom, he was still having sexual relationships with his first wife. When the young man found out, he was livid, and wrote off his parents.
- Although he had a university degree, McCandless took whatever job was available to get the funds he needed to survive while on his adventure.
- Passion will only take you so far. You need skills and preparation.
- Don’t live a boring life, do interesting things, go on adventures. In fact, go on an adventure tour. This is safer than what Chris McCandless did.
Conclusion: Why Go on an Adventure: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
I found Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer a very tough read, but it’s worth the read. Participating in the Read the World Extreme Reading Challenge is good for me, because it focuses my reading, as well as diversifies it. I found Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer makes a great additional to the books that I have read since the challenge started. Chris McCandless reminds me of Amelia Earhart who also made mistakes on her adventure, which cost her, her life. So Why Go on an Adventure – you go on adventures to broaden your life experiences, but make sure that you adequately prepare for the trip.
Jon Krakauer Books
Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent FaithWhere Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat TillmanInto Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest DisasterInto the WildEiger Dreams: Ventures Among Men And MountainsMissoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College TownIceland: Land of the Sagas