Into the Wild Study Guide

Into the Wild

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

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.

Yet another man who people have compared McCandless to is Carl McCunn. As a worker on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in the '70s, McCunn was in Alaska already and, in 1981, requested to be flown to a remote lake above the Coleen River. He forgot to request a flight back, though, and soon ran out of food in his cabin. Rather than attempting to walk back out of the wilderness, he wastes away in his cabin and eventually shot himself. Krakauer goes on to compare McCunn and McCandless’s lack of common sense and foresight in their planning. He also states that McCandless was not mentally ill, but that McCunn and Waterman both were. The argument of whether McCandless was in fact mentally ill is railed against by Krakauer, saying he knew he would likely not survive in the wild and did not think he would be saved as the other men did.

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