Detached From Society
Chris Chandless was an adventurer. He loved the fact that each day he had the possibility of being exciting, different, or even dangerous. Chris was different in the way he wanted to experience life. He wanted to be alone and took no joy in the various human relationships that he had developed in his travels. Chris showed that he was a loner and did not value these relationships by his disregard for normal society and only took pleasure in challenging himself.
Once Chris had left Atlanta he decided that he would head out with no itinerary or map and just play his journey by ear. He lived for the thrill of the unexpected. While in Carthage he met Wayne Westerberg. Westerberg said, You could tell right away that Alex was intelligent (18). This proves Chris was extremely intelligent but that caused problems for him in normal society. He could not understand how the monotonous grind that people went through could be enjoyable. In his mind there was nothing better than being out in nature alone trying to survive- not a nine to five. He also could not understand how people could treat each other the way they did. Westerberg said that Chris, Sometimes tried too hard to make sense of the world, to figure out why people were bad to each other so often (18).
Chris did actually enjoy Carthage, but it was because of the very place that Carthage because it was off the beaten path. Jon Krakauer describes it as, a back eddy, a pool of jet stream beyond the pull of the main current (18). Chris did not fit into society and could not handle the connections with people. When he was younger and had had enough money he purchased a 1982 Datsun that got him though college. After graduation Chriss parents attempted to buy him a new car and Chris declined, not only did he decline but this actually insulted him later he said, I cant believe theyd try and buy me a car, he later complained in a letter to Carine (21). Chris could not handle connections. He did not want a new car, gifts, or anything because this meant that there was a emotional tie with the giver. When he was packing up the Datsun soon after graduation Krakauer describes Chris as feeling like:
At long last he was encumbered, emancipated from the stifling world of his parents and peers, a world of abstraction and security and material excess, a world in which he felt grievously cut off from the raw throb of existence. (22)
Soon after leaving home he would have to abandon his beloved Datsun. This should have been devastating considering the fight that he put up over his parents trying to buy him a new car, but actually a huge weight had been lifted off of him. At last he felt free.
In Jon Krakauers book Into the Wild describes Chris as being exhilarated. That he saw this as a chance to be free. He knew that at this point he could completely disappear from his parents and society. He took the Virginia plates off the car so that it could not be identified and so that his parents would not be informed. Then he decided to burn all the money he had been given ultimately detaching him from society. He then explored the west for two months, spellbound by the scale and power of the landscape, thrilled by minor brushes with the law (29)
This shows that for the first time the only thing that had truly made him happy was solitude and knowing that he was on his own. Now Chris could enjoy the wild and his many challenges that would present themselves.
Chris would travel all over the country from this point meeting many different people. This was different from how the normal person would create a relationship. He used these relationships for his greater goal. His only goal was Alaska. That was the only thing that meant anything to him, and if someone could help in this goal then he would accept their attention for as long as he could use them. One of Chris McCandlesss hardest relationships was with an old man that he met in Salton City named Ron Franz. From the beginning Chris was just hoping into another strangers truck for a ride home. The problem was that this man ended up taking a liking to Chris. Chris though was still just moving right along using this man to help his journey; and not in a bad way. This just helped pass the time. There was not the same emotional connection, bound between Chris and Franz, as there was between Franz and Chris. This is shown later when Chris leaves Salton City Krakauer writes:
McCandless was relieved to be on his way north, and was relieved as well- relieved that he had again evaded the impending threat of human intimacy, of friendship, and all of the messy baggage that comes with it (55).
He could not handle nor did he want to have human relationships; they were just not what his soul craved. The only satisfaction he could achieve was the challenge of the road and the solitude of the wild. His detachment from society was his ultimate pleasure. Just the knowledge that he was off the grid gave Chris the power and freedom that he needed.