Journey to the Meaning of Life

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In the book “Into the Wild” by Krakauer, the story revolves around Chris McCandless’ pursuit of his true purpose in life.

Inspired by his favorite author, McCandless forsakes his possessions and sets out on a journey to unravel life’s mysteries and satiate his inquisitiveness. Endowed with intellect and reason, he endeavors to comprehend all aspects of existence, even his own. By disengaging from society and immersing himself in the natural world, McCandless realizes that this connection enables him to grasp the genuine essence of life. He firmly believes that engaging with the environment carries more weight than cultivating relationships with individuals he perceives as shallow.

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McCandless believes that human relationships are fragile and do not teach him anything about life due to his failed relationship with his parents. He hopes that exploring the natural world can provide him with understanding and a sense of purpose. Despite receiving criticism for his decision, it becomes clear to the reader that McCandless’ trip is not irrational or aimless. Instead, he embarks on an epic journey into the wild to expand his intellectual and adventurous boundaries and gain insight into the meaning of life.

As the author of the story, Krakauer uses personal notes to depict McCandless as a young American who ventures into the wilderness to seek the meaning of his life. In one set of author’s notes, Krakauer reflects on the grip that wilderness has on the American imagination and the allure it holds for adventurous individuals. By doing so, Krakauer reveals a broader perspective on McCandless’s journey – the undeniable attraction of adventure and the wild. He aims for the reader to gain a deeper understanding of why McCandless is willing to undertake such a risky expedition.

Additionally, Krakauer shares that he relates to McCandless on a personal level and understands that McCandless is not simply seeking attention or acting foolishly. In an author’s note, he explains, “I include snippets of my own past to shed light on the mystery of Chris McCandless.” Krakauer hopes that by sharing his own experiences, readers will refrain from condemning McCandless as a fool for not surviving his journey.

By surviving his journey in Alaska, Krakauer demonstrates that exploring the wilderness to find the meaning of life is not a foolish or pointless choice. Krakauer argues that McCandless is not insane or unintelligent, and there are certainly compelling factors that drive him towards this adventure. McCandless’ passion for reading as a child, particularly his admiration for Jack London, clearly serves as inspiration for his adventurous pursuits. “McCandless had been enamored with London since he was young.”

Mesmerized by London’s vivid depiction of life in Alaska and the Yukon, McCandless was captivated by The Call of the Wild….” (Krakauer 44). This quote highlights McCandless’s profound admiration for London’s narrative. His own adventure stems from his longing to personally immerse himself in the story, gaining a genuine understanding of what it must be like to be his beloved character.

Furthermore, McCandless’s profound longing to merge with nature in order to comprehend the essence of existence compels him on his journey. Notably, he highlights the phrase “NATURE/PURITY” (189) at the beginning of a passage from Doctor Zhivago, emphasizing his intense preoccupation with the notion of nature and purity that he strives to embody in his own life. McCandless firmly believes that humanity is inherently pure, and thus, delves into the natural world in an attempt to acquire a deeper understanding and meaning of life from its primordial source of purity.

This could be why McCandless has a strong longing to reconnect with nature and is willing to undertake a perilous journey. During his expedition, McCandless utilizes his intelligence to ensure his survival. In addition to his pursuit of self-discovery and purpose, his intellect demonstrates that McCandless must have carefully considered the motivations behind his daring venture. McCandless is an educated individual who recently graduated from Emory University with an impressive overall grade point average.

Throughout his journey, he utilized his knowledge to address the challenges he faced. Consequently, McCandless encountered minimal difficulties during his trip, and everything progressed effortlessly. For instance, he managed to sustain himself for over a month near the Gulf of California with only five pounds of rice and an abundance of fish caught using an inexpensive fishing rod and reel (Krakauer 162). Additionally, the majority of individuals McCandless encountered on his journey recall him as an intelligent and amiable individual.

According to Burres, McCandless was believed to be capable of surviving the journey due to his intelligence and ability to problem-solve (46). McCandless relied on his knowledge to achieve various tasks, indicating a logical thought process and reasoning behind his decision to embark on this adventure.

McCandless exhibits not only knowledge but also a remarkable personality and exceptional accomplishments. Throughout his expedition, he consistently had a clear path in mind. Once he determined a goal, he remained resolute and undeterred, ensuring that he adhered to his plan and achieved it within a designated timeframe. A prime illustration of this determination lies in McCandless’ rejection of Westerberg’s invitations to extend his stay and assist with additional work, despite being provided with a plane ticket that would eliminate the need for road travel.

According to Westerberg, Alex was unwavering in his decisions. Even when offered a plane ticket to save time, he declined, believing it would go against his principles and ruin the integrity of his journey. This demonstrates McCandless’s unwavering commitment to his values, as he could not be tempted or swayed by tempting offers.

By choosing the longer path, McCandless was able to establish a more profound and evident connection with his own life principles, which ultimately illustrates his personal growth throughout the journey. Despite further developing his principles, there is a noticeable progression of fearlessness and determination towards achieving a goal, demonstrating McCandless’s true spirit. His bravery can be seen during the process of crossing the Mexican border.

Despite the challenges, he persevered and managed to find a way to cross the border by paddling a canoe through the dam’s floodgates, ensuring a safe trip. Alex discovers what he believes to be the Wellteco Canal and travels south. As the canal narrows, fears and anxieties resurface. However, with the assistance of local residents, he is able to bypass an obstacle. Alex’s encounter with Mexicans reveals them to be kind and welcoming individuals (Krakauer 35). It is almost unimaginable to cross the border undetected, as McCandless did.

McCandless demonstrated both courage and a well-thought-out plan when taking the high risk that he did. Along with his fearlessness, he also embodied a calm determination. Despite the challenges of hitchhiking on the Alaska Highway, McCandless never wavered and waited patiently for days without any delays.

Both McCandless’s dedication to consistency and his determination to follow through on his endeavors are clearly demonstrated in these experiences, showing his commitment to taking charge of his own life and fostering personal growth. Nevertheless, contrary to Krakauer’s viewpoint, I am of the opinion that McCandless’s choice to venture into the wilderness and abandon all he had is an illogical and cowardly act that ultimately falls short in elucidating life’s purpose. He disregards his family’s emotions in order to satisfy his own aspirations.

His mother, Billie, reveals that Chris had asked the post office to hold his letters until August 1, causing great worry for his parents (22). Despite knowing the distress this would cause, McCandless decides to vanish into the wilderness, demonstrating a lack of consideration for his parents’ feelings. This action is incredibly irrational, as any child should comprehend the emotional turmoil their departure would cause their parents. Furthermore, by abandoning the potential for a promising future, McCandless demonstrates a desire to escape from reality.

His avoidance of responsibilities and constant excuses for leaving indicate he is a coward, as he believes seeking new experiences is necessary to comprehend his life. However, the truth is that understanding his current life requires him to simply sustain it. Moreover, the fact that his journey ends in death suggests it was more about exploring mortality than living. Ultimately, venturing into the wild proved fatal for him.

McCandless’s decision to go into the wild has sparked a range of opinions among readers, with some viewing it as his biggest mistake due to his irresponsibility and disregard for the future. However, upon examining the deeper meaning behind his journey, as Krakauer also does, it becomes apparent that McCandless’s choice is actually a remarkable and courageous idea.

He demonstrates his intelligence and bravery to comprehend the true purpose of life.

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Journey to the Meaning of Life. (2017, May 09). Retrieved from

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