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.

Despite the financial freedom that Walt and Billie’s consulting firm brought the family, there was high tension in their near constant arguments and threats of divorce. Walt reveals that the family often took long, outdoor trips and that a history of outdoors and wandering runs in the family. Chris’s grandfather, Loren Johnson was a trucker andnever stayed in one place and was a lover of nature. He was a hunter, though he would often cry for the animals he killed. Chris and Loren grew very close while Chris was a child and the two spent a lot of time in the woods.

Walt describes how Chris received a single F in his years of High School, for ignoring his Physics teacher’s formatting requirements for lab reports. Otherwise, he was a straight A student. Chris was close to Carine throughout school and thoroughly enjoyed anything that was naturally easy. He, however, did not enjoy things like racquetball in which he could not quite improve.

Chris, as the team captain for the cross-country team, was a grueling leader, constantly dragging them into the woods until lost, then forcing them to run until they were no longer lost. He was a convincing speaker and managed to convince his teammates to follow him with his spiritual motivation speeches. However, if Chris ever lost a race himself, he would be very harsh on himself.

As a single person in the world, McCandless constantly worried over things like racism and social injustice. He often spent time downtown feeding the homeless and took a homeless man into his family’s Airstream to stay. He was unwilling to attend college, though his parents badgered him until he consented. He never spoke highly of his family though, constantly deriding their financial independence.

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