Into the Wild is the non-fiction expansion of Jon Krakauer’s article “Death of an Innocent” which was published in Outsider in 1993. It describes the real story of Chris McCandless, an American who’s decision to explore the wilderness of the States led to him starving to death in an ill prepared trip to the Alaskan wilds.
McCandless’s story is mesmerising not only due to his travels but for the effect he had on the people he met during them. Krakauer pieces together the charming and intelligent personality of McCandless, who was known as Alexander to his fellow travelers. Obsessive in his desires to go on his self-proclaimed “Alaskan Odyssey”, the narrative from his diary leads us to have little sympathy for his death due to his naivete of believing he could survive with so little.
Whilst Krakauer makes McCandless’s unfortunate end obvious from the beginning, we still feel hope for the wanderer throughout his travels.
Krakauer ranges through several wanderlust struck characters like John Waterman who went missing during his 4th attempt to reach the peak of Denali solo. And Carl McCunn who lost his life because he simply hadn’t arranged for a pilot to pick him up again after a month photographing near the Coleen River, which isn’t far from the Brook’s Range.
But despite their apparent naiveté in these trips, each of the men seemed to be lost in dreams and seemed to make a big impression on everyone they met. Krakauer focuses on these personalities instead of lingering on their deaths. He assures us that whilst McCandless is similar to Waterman and McCunn, he isn’t the usual bush-casualty stereotype. It seems as though Krakauer has a connection with McCandless that makes him determined for readers to see him in a positive light rather than condemn him for the futility of his trip. Perhaps this comes from his own journey to Alaska that nearly ended in disaster.
Krakauer’s attention detail brings all aspects of the the book come to life, drawing attention even to the soft west- American accent of Chris McCandless’s father; Walt McCandless. His ability to weave beautiful points of detail into the saddening story of Chris without drawing away from the poignant moments of McCandless’s life is masterful.