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Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer - Book Report/Review Example

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Characterized by high-paced intensity, Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild is replete with meaningful themes and powerful prose. It chronicles the story of an educated, rich young man, McCandless, who severed all ties with a world "in which he felt grievously cut off from the raw throb of existence"…
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Download file to see previous pages But Chris, with his idiosyncratic logic, came up with an elegant solution to this dilemma: He simply got rid of the map. In his own mind, if nowhere else, the terra would thereby remain incognita." (174).1 Krakauer's story attracted not only critical attention but also managed to elicit angry responses from residents of Alaska, who flouted Krakauer for glorifying "a foolish, pointless death". In order to redeem McCandless' death in the eyes of such readers, Krakauer introduced brief vignettes and longer case studies of other people who had lived on the edge and also quoted writers McCandless admired-Thoreau, Emerson, London, Tolstoy. These accounts were to serve as clues to the readers, who were desperate to understand the motives behind McCandless' otherwise inexplicable journey, which eventually led to his tragic death. Multiple narrative voices and shifting view points lend the necessary complexity and ambiguity to the story. Digressing as usual, Krakauer tells that reader that over the years, lots of other people for umpteen different reasons have undertaken such journeys. He narrates the story of one such man called Gene Rossellini, a "wayward genius...interested in knowing if it was possible to be independent of modern technology".After a long period of ten years, to Rossellini's utter dismay, he came to the conclusion that "it is not possible for human beings as we know them to live off the land". Though it was unlikely that his discovery could have completely shattered him, he nevertheless stabbed himself through the heart. Another account of a not so popular wayfarer, John Mellon Waterman, further leaves the reader trying to decipher the fascination that the wilderness held. Waterman was known to be a manic-depressive, with a history of mental illness behind him. In a fit of madness, he set out to climb Mt. Denali all by himself. He was not even well equipped. A few people spotted him going berserk near the Ruth Glacier and that was the last when anyone saw or heard of him. Yet another parallel is drawn between the lives of McCandless and Carl McCunn. Already working in Alaska, McCunn expressed a desire to be flown to a remote lake. However, it did not occur to him to request a flight back as well. He was stranded there and soon ran out of food supplies. The idea of walking into the wilderness in search of help, also evaded him. Consequently, he shot himself. Krakauer was of the opinion that McCunn lacked common sense and thus, was unable to anticipate the perils of such a journey. Krakauer acknowledges that McCandless was perhaps just as myopic as the other wayfarers but he discredits any theory which states that McCandless was mentally ill. While the author rids his protagonist of all the charges, he unabashedly claims that both Waterman and McCunn were mentally disturbed. AlthoughMcCandless was rash and incautious, he was not incompetent, nor was he an outcast. It is hard to pinpoint exactly what he was; the author suggests that he was, perhaps, "a pilgrim".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. While Krakauer uses these stories to provide counterpoints to try to explore the reasons behind McCandless' drive, they however increase the sense of impending doom. "Accounts of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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