Empathy In Into The Wild, By Jon Krakauer

1031 Words 5 Pages
It is not difficult to find the tale of a golden child gone awry in not only literature, but life as well. However, in the book Into the Wild, author Jon Krakauer captures this stale premise in a way that in compelling, understandable, and above all, trustworthy: a rarity in the world of nonfiction. Into the Wild revolves around the life of Chris McCandless, but it is very much a personal story, made so not only by the author incorporating McCandless’s family in the suffering and loss of their son, but also by detailing his own experiences mountaineering. By using his own life experiences as a reference for Into the Wild, Krakauer is able to write the novel with empathy and connect with McCandless on a personal level, allowing him to explore …show more content…
In 1977, Krakauer is convinced that the mountain climbing experience will change his life, a vision that mirrors McCandless’s Alaskan dream. Throughout his journey, he has a number of near-death experiences, highlighting the risk and danger of confronting the wild alone. Death lurks around every corner and any step could be his last. By including his own experience with nature, Krakauer demonstrates the unforgiving and ferocious qualities of the wilderness, a phenomenon that he had once idolized and admired. Not only does he manage to characterize nature as both idyllic and brutally uncaring and dangerous, but more importantly, he makes the point that he survived and McCandless did not. Because he and McCandless have been stuck in incredibly similar situations and they both “mistook passion for insight” (154), it becomes evident that he is perhaps one of the only people that can profoundly understand McCandless’s motivations, without having ever met him. The overarching connection between Krakauer and McCandless increases the credibility of Into the Wild because the main question the book asks is what motivated McCandless to abandon his seemingly perfect life to live off the land, and the author himself felt compelled to …show more content…
Many critics may argue that this section is a self-serving digression, or that this section only serves to complicate McCandless’s story, but at its core, it is another example of Krakauer using his experience to investigate McCandless’s motivation behind his actions. Going back to 1977, when Krakauer decides to take a less challenging route, an intense sense of loneliness dawns on him as he looks at the view of a distant city and imagines people watching television or eating dinner. The absence of human contact compels him to recognize the value of companionship, foreshadowing a similar discovery Chris will uncover in Alaska. The inclusion of Krakauer’s own story in Into the Wild does the opposite of complicating McCandless’s story. It allows the audience to see, if not into McCandless’s mind, at least into the mind of someone who had a similar mindset. While McCandless seemed to revel in his independence, the fact that Krakauer thought he could survive without people, but was really lonely in actuality, suggests that McCandless probably had moments of deep loneliness as well. All of these factors and qualities help give the audience a better understanding of McCandless’s identity and why he might have given up

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