Into the Wild

Two years he walks the earth. No phone, no pool, no pets, no cigarettes. Ultimate freedom. An extremist. An aesthetic voyager whose home is the road. Escaped from Atlanta. Thou shalt not return, 'cause "the West is the best." And now after two rambling years comes the final and greatest adventure. The climactic battle to kill the false being within and victoriously conclude the spiritual pilgrimage. Ten days and nights of freight trains and hitchhiking bring him to the Great White North. No longer to be poisoned by civilization he flees, and walks alone upon the land to become lost in the wild.
Alexander Supertramp
May 1992

I saw the movie and have yet to read the book. But I did read the article that led to the book and it can be found here

The movie is a true account of the last two years of one Christopher McCandless, a twenty something college graduate Emory in ATL who decides to seek God and life's purpose out and away from human society. McCandless adopts the moniker Alexander SuperTramp and continues on his adventures out in the midwest, california, mexico and Alaska. McCandless was apparently influenced by Thoreau, Jack London, and Tolstoy; individuals who in a generic sense emphasized man to reconnect with nature.

There are many aspects that make up his story- an invigorating sense of wanderlust, rejection of society, a declaration of independence and a spiritual journey to find oneself. I believe the crux of McCandless was to find himself and a greater purpose; and the movie did touch on it, but not as much as the themes of going out on an adventure and becoming independent of the evils of society.

Most of the reviews and pundits (again I haven't read the book yet. The article, the movie, and google webhits are my references) on McCandless labeled him slightly immature, and lacking of common sense; because he cut off his family ties and because of the grave mistakes leading to his death. They seem to have focused on McCandless' desire to become independent of the world, without really detailing why. It was written off as youthful idealism, optimism and wanderlust. No doubt he was highly idealistic, but there is nothing wrong with that, and in my account there certainly nothing wrong with honestly trying to live out those ideals.

I was deeply impressed that in the opening scenes of the movie McCandless said "The climactic battle to kill the false being within and victoriously conclude the spiritual pilgrimage" It revealed that McCandless believed that his journey would be to strip himself bare of everything and realizing his purpose. Spoken like ascetics and mystics that came before him.

On his hitchhiking adventures he met interesting people and his interaction with them revealed his noble, moral character. I mention this because I find it unique that we have a story of an adventurer who prior to starting his journey already believed in God and a common bond between all of humanity. In High School as the captain of the cross country team, McCandless told his teammates to keep running as fast as you can, leaving all the evils of the world behind you. Unlike other protagonists, (Siddartha in Hesse's novel) he did not have to plunge into a spiritual/mental low in order to raise himself later. As we see in the movie, McCandless rises in his solitude.

McCandless' upbringing in an affluent family, attending a frat school, his education on apartheid and injustice in Africa, and his penchant for reading all played a role in shaping his "personal reference"

The article actually noted that when McCandless was working on the farm in South Dakota he was remarkably honest, hardworking and pleasant to be around. The movie demonstrates him giving up his only chance to contact home in order to help and old man reconnect with his loved one. His selflessness and wider perception of the world was truly remarkable. The movie showed the conversation that he had with Wayne Westerberg, his boss and close friend on the South Dakota farm. McCandless reveals his confusion at the hatred that permeated common society, concluding peace can be found in the wild.

In a conversation with Ron Franz, a retired war veteran whom he meets, McCandless said:

But you're wrong if you think that the joy of life comes principally from human relationships.
God's placed it all around us, its in everything, its in anything we can experience, people just need to change the way they look at those things.

This revealed his insightful understanding of life; something that could only have been better explained by Christopher himself, had he remained with us.

Had McCandless survived we would be focusing on some deeper spiritual insight instead of a story about a boy who rejected society and sought independence by fulfilling his sense of wanderlust, and passes away in the process.

McCandless started with good fortune in Alaska, he arrived in April 1992 and survived until August 1992. He ate poisonous berries that severely weakened him, and this led to his eventual starvation which killed him.

McCandless kept a scant journal with him, notes he wrote in between lines of another book he possessed.

As a sign off to the world he wrote:

I have had a happy life and thank the Lord. Goodbye and may God Bless All! - Christopher Joseph McCandless

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Hmm I may not have the full picture of the story until i read the book, so for those who have read, please do critique my view of Chrisopher McCandless.