I recently finished Jon Krakauer’s book Into the Wild, and I have mixed feelings about it. Chris McCandless aka Alexander Supertramp, comes across as intelligent, idealistic, and aloof.
I appreciated the book because I’ve related to McCandless’s love of travel and to find something bigger than himself. The idea to go out into a journey without any preparation whatsoever is foolish, but there is adventure in risk. You never know what you’re going to discover or whom you’re going to meet.
For the longest time, I planned on going to Peace Corps. I filled out the application, wrote my two essays, and asked people for recommendation letters. I was determined to go on my adventure to help others and to find myself. (You can more about it here.) Over the course of the year before I was to leave, I started having cold feet. Some of these events that added to my uncertainty of leaving were that I got into a relationship and read volunteers’ experiences of being sexually violated during their term. It made me wonder if literally being out of my comfort zone was going to help me out of my rut.
Even though I admired McCandless for his determination to go through with his journey, I did find him to lack common sense. I agreed with many of the Alaskans that read his story that his death was preventable. If he bought proper supplies with him such as warm clothing and took the advice of experienced huntsmen, he likely would have survived. McCandless was ambitious for daring to go into the Alaskan wilderness without a map, but to make a journey like that, one has to be well researched and be prepared. Even early man planned and had tools to help them in their journey when exploring new lands. It may not have been modern, but they had to prepare if they wanted to live.
To me McCandless represented the epitome of an Idealist. He was not afraid to tackle obstacles that many others were afraid of, but he didn’t think of the consequences of his actions. He not only hurt himself but hurt the people that loved him the most, such as his sister Carine. As much as I want to fully embrace his story, Krakauer did a fantastic reporting job, it’s hard for me to sympathize.