TO THE WILD
book “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer is structured in a unique way. In the
story, Krakauer goes back and forth between the past of the main character,
Christopher McCandless, and his journey through the wilderness of Alaska.
Krakauer also adds narrative intrusions, shifts in narratives, and a specific
way of organizing chapter to better show who Chris was and what his real
intentions were. He wrote this so that the readers of, Into the Wild misjudge
Chris McCandless and his motives until almost the end of the book and to show
how he feels about Chris’ life.
Jon Krakauer very purposefully wrote this
book out of order to connect Chris’ experiences in the Wilderness to
experiences in life before Alaska.
“Gallien stopped his rig on the crest of a low rise. The icy summits of
the highest mountain range in North America gleamed on the southwestern
horizon. Alex insisted on giving him his watch, his comb, and what he said was
all his money… ‘I don’t want to know what time it is. I don’t want to know what
day it is or where I am. None of that matters'” (Krakauer). At the very beginning, chapter one
starts off with Chris arriving in Alaska, his destination. The author starts
off by giving the readers of some mentally unstable kid on his way to certain
death, however, the more of the book you read, the more you saw who Chris was.
He was happy being on his own. He saw the whole world as his own, full of
endless possibilities. He was not a sad person, and he showed no signs of
wanting to end his adventure. Krakauer chose to use a method of organization
that connects his last moments to crucial moments in his life to interpret what
how Chris might have spent his final moments in Alaska.
Narrative intrusions were added into the
book to give a sense of theme for each chapter. These also gave readers an
opportunity to make their conclusions about what was going through Chris’
without of the author explicitly telling us. “You are wrong if you think Joy
emanates only or principally from human relationships. God has placed it all
around us. It is about everything and anything we might experience. We just
have to have the courage to turn against our habitual lifestyle and engage in
unconventional living.” This alone, without the author explaining, shows us
that Chris was one to practice what he preached. He was happy being alone and
found true joy in it. His unconventional lifestyle has forced him to open his
eyes to what he believes true happiness is. Any reader could read through
Krakauer’s notes on the subject and disagree with him completely. However, it
is much harder to say that Chris’ death was planned when they read his actual
words and see that he is the happiest he has ever been and could not have
wanted to commit suicide. A summary of what Chris said or meant, told by a
person who had never truly known or even met McCandless would not turn out
completely accurate. Krakauer knew this was the case and for this reason, he
made it a point to include Chris’ actual words and personal letters.
Because of the absence of McCandless and
the answers he could have provided, Krakauer stepped in and added narrative
shifts that looked at his life to find plausible solutions. Though Krakauer
never knew McCandless, he felt that he could indeed relate to him as a young
man. “Like McCandless, figures of male authority aroused in me a confusing
medley of corked fury and hunger to please.” McCandless had unresolved problems
with his father for a large portion of his life and Krakauer knew what Chris
might have been feeling, having faced similar problems himself. “If something
captured my undisciplined imagination, I pursued it with a zeal bordering on
obsession from age seventeen to my late twenties that something was mountain
climbing.” As a young man, much like McCandless, Krakauer had the obsessive and
strong urge to explore and discover what independence indeed was. These desires
were rooted in authority figures in his past. The author proves that he is
comparable to McCandless by sharing great similarities. Because of this, he
feels that he would understand what Chris was going through and be able to draw
conclusions based on decisions and experiences from his past.
Krakauer’s usage of epigraphs to start each chapter is to get the reader to
think before they jump into the section. The effect of this technique on the
book as a whole is making it unique in a way and not expecting what’s going to
happen. Although the epigraphs don’t give too much information to spoil the
chapter; it gets us to think about what’s going to happen next. From reading
“Into the Wild,” one knows how the epigraphs work with the chapter it precedes;
analyze the writers’ epigraph choices and choices of chapter content.
I misjudged Chris when I started the book.
The way the author started left me believing Chris was some mentally unstable
kid heading, knowingly, to his death. However, because of the way McCandless
was built up over the course of the book, showing what pushed him and his true
intentions, I related to Chris more than any character in any book I’ve ever
read. Because I was able to draw my conclusions from the intrusive narratives,
I could put myself in his shoes. Having been severely hurt by my own family and
keeping quiet about it for so long, I could conclude that experiencing all the
happiness this world has to offer by traveling and experiencing different
cultures, and people would be the utterly sane thing to do. In fact, I plan on
doing the same.