Into the Wild is a non-fictional account of the wilderness survival and eventual death of Christopher McCandless, a teenager who left home to experience nature's grandeur. The survival of McCandless's journals and the accounts of those he met with on his travels paint a vivid picture of a determined young man wrestling with personal demons through travel. McCandless dies alone in the Alaskan wilderness at the conclusion of the novel.
Opening chapter one is a postcard from McCandless to Wayne Westerberg, back in Carthage, South Dakota. Using the name Alex on the card, McCandless describes how much respect he has for Westerberg and how he is afraid he might not survive his time in the Alaskan wilderness. Every chapter, starting here, opens with a quotation established to set the tone for the rest of the chapter.