English 100 Delta
24 November 2018
The Wild Influences
Every day people go through the day with learning at least one thing. Go into the world and people with meet with each other. This interaction helps each other by either giving advice or just portraying their ideas. They influence each other and help each other to surpass themselves to become a better person. Everyone lives a different life, and he or she have all made different choices. Each choice leads to either an ending or a new beginning. In the book, Into the Wild, Job Krakauer wrote about a guy named Christopher McCandless and his days before he died. There are many ideas from Henry David Thoreau short essays that have influenced McCandless daily life such as: “Civil Disobedience,” “Walking,” and “Life Without Principles.” Thoreau’s short essay has many connections to Christopher McCandless life such as the concept of being free, living a non-materialistic life, resistance to the government, and being one with nature. Just like everyone else, McCandless has gone through some substantial ideological and philosophical changes inspired by Thoreau that effected McCandless ways of living and choices that he made.
The first and foremost idea that influenced McCandless by Thoreau was the idea of being able to leave everyone and everything behind to go out into the wild. Thoreau stated that, “If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again,—if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settle all your affairs and you are a free man [or women], then you are ready for a walk” (Thoreau, “Walking” 50)”. From this idea, McCandless carried it out flawlessly. He burned all his cash and donated all his money to charity. Then McCandless chose to donate his money and leave his previous life behind. The money that he donated to “OXFAM America” was the money that his parents thought he would use for law school (Krakauer 20). The idea is very contrasting because Chris hates the government, so there was no reason for him to attend law school. He left his family and did not say a word. He walked into the wild and was ready to saunter. Chris’s idea of freedom is to be away from authority and away from people’s rules. He grew up doing what his parents want and did not get the freedom that he wanted. As Krakauer stated, “ Driving west out of the Atlanta, he intended to invent an utterly new life for himself, one in which he would be free to wallow in unfiltered experience. To symbolize the complete severance from his previous life, he even adopted a new name (Krakauer 23).” The name that he changed to was “Alexander Supertramp (Krakauer 23).” This is one of the philosophical ideas that influence McCandless to leave his family and go into the wild. This choice led him to his adventures throughout his trip to encounter many people and worked many jobs to reach his final destination, which is Alaska.
Throughout the book, Krakauer wrote about McCandless life and how he does not want to live a materialistic life like his parents. Thoreau said that “You must get your living by loving” (Thoreau, “Life Without Principles” 78). McCandless wanted to live a life of simplicity and non-materialistic. He wanted to do things that he desires to do and not what his parents want him to do. He resented his parents to the point where “his sense of outrage over injustice in the world at large grew ( Krakauer 123).” Chris did not like the idea of living just for money and not for love and because he resents his family, it made him resent the society as a whole. He did not get the love he desired from his parents because money has blinded them and made McCandless hate the idea of living a materialistic life. This idea also portrays the meaning of working for the idea for the love of the job and not the money. McCandless carried this idea out very well because when he was working in Carthage, he enjoyed working there, even though the pay was not much. He even intended to return to the job once he was one with his Alaska Adventure (Krakauer 66). Many believed that with McCandless education, he would not be working in an elevator grain. The idea is that even though a college degree is a good thing to have, it does not mean that one will enjoy the job they will receive from it. McCandless willingness of wanting to come back to his elevator grain job means that he loves the job, not money. From that, McCandless resentment towards his family made him enjoy his life more as well as leaving the mundane life that involves with the government behind.
There are many influential ideas that Thoreau portrayed in his short essay, but one that brought out McCandless rebellious side was that the government should not be involved in people’s lives and that they should govern least (Thoreau, “Civil Disobedience” 1). When the government gets too involved with an individual’s life, it makes them more rebellious. McCandless took this philosophical idea very seriously and the first action that he took to portray this was driving with an expired license plate as well as an expired license (Krakauer 28). He did not care about the government nor cared about the consequence. He then hunted without a license and claimed to Jim Gallien that “How I feed myself is none of the government’s business (Krakauer 6). This idea portrayed that McCandless did not want any relationship with the government and that he despises the government. He does not want to be controlled by the government neither does he want the government to know his name. He was rebellious enough to the point where when he was filling out his W-4 form, he wrote “Iris” as his first name and “Fucyu” as his last name to flip off the government (Krakauer 101). All of McCandless mutinous actions have portrayed the idea of how the government should not intervene with someone’s life and that this philosophical idea weights heavily on McCandless.
All these ideas have forced McCandless to make many choices about his life and how it led to his adventure to Alaska all correlates with the idea of being one with nature. Thoreau explained, “ I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wilderness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil, --- to regard man an inhabitant, or part and parcel of Nature rather than a member of society (Thoreau, “Walking” 49). The freedom that Thoreau is talking about is what McCandless want to do. To be free and into the wilderness. He chose to step into nature because of his love for nature and his hatred for the government and society as a whole. He has his mind set to his adventure to Alaska, and he did not stray from his path. There was a determination in McCandless' heart, and his “…sights were fixed unflinchingly on Alaska” (Krakauer 66). Every path that he has cross was for his final destination. His adventure with nature was purely just him by himself in the Stampede Trail. He spent days hunting for food living in the wild. In McCandless journal, he wrote about his adventure and time he was having (Krakauer 168). At that moment, McCandless was one with nature.
Throughout McCandless life, he has encountered many obstacles that have led him to make choices that made his life easier and happy. McCandless was trapped in a materialistic and was able to get out of it due to the influences of Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau not only influences McCandless but many other people in the world in the past 150 years. The choices that people make and life that people chose to live is who they are. It is easier to live in freedom than to live under surveillance. Nature has made the world a better place and the only thing that society is doing today is killing it. People took advantage of mother nature and has abandoned her. Very few today would take the chance and appreciate what nature has to give us. McCandless took the chance and enjoyed what nature has given him and use it to his advantage. His last few days of life was not as bad as it seems. He has learned many things and discovered many things. McCandless lived very wildly, and his choices were not all wrong. There have been many stupid choices, but as long as he likes it, it is his choice to make.
Krakauer, Jon. Into the Wild. New York: Anchor Books, 1997. Print.
Thoreau, D. Henry. Civil Disobedience. New York: Dover Publication,1993. Print.
Thoreau, D. Henry. Life Without Principles. New York: Dover Publication,1993. Print.
Thoreau, D. Henry. Walking. New York: Dover Publication,1993. Print.