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Is Chris Mccandless Crazy Or Not Essay

Title Of Book: Into The Wild By Jon Krakauer Was Chris Mc Candless Crazy?

Jon Krakauer, the author, has used quite a few rhetorical themes while writing his book. I have chosen the interviews he has conducted with people who knew Chris McCandless as my theme. I feel that these interviews carry a lot of importance as they give us a good insight of Chris, the kind of person he was and the protective and isolated life he was living.

While reading the book we come across a lot of point of views of different people. People who did not know much about Chris, but judged him according to his fate. These people thought Chris was an insane person with a death wish, much like the people he idolized. They all thought that going into the bush and trying to live off the land for such an extended period of time, that too with such little knowledge of the land was insane. Their reaction to Chris's odyssey depended a lot on the fact that Chris did not make it out of there. Had Chris survived and come out alive, the same people would be the ones praising his accomplishments.

One of the interviews that defies the general thought of Chris being crazy is of Roman Dial. Roman was one of the guys who went back to the bus with Krakauer, to figure out what really happened to Chris and what caused his death. Roman points out that the reaction towards Chris is so negative because he reminds a lot of people of themselves, when they were young. And that is what scares them.

Roman a hiker himself says that he used to be a lot similar to the way Chris was when he was young. But the major difference between the two was that he made it out of there and Chris did not. That is why people praised him and thought of Chris as insane. Although he says that Chris was woefully unprepared, but that is because at a young age people do not think about death. Youngsters think they can pull anything off. Taking a risk and putting your life in danger is what the fun is all about.

During the interviews with Chris's family we come to know that Chris always had a brilliant mind and knew what he was getting himself into. His parents, Billie and Walt, tell us that Chris always had a different way of thinking then what the society demanded. He did not want to get a college degree saying that he would be better off without it and it would not help him out in any way. Later on his parents persistence he decided to go to college and study further.

Walt tells us that Chris was very energetic and far too over confident in whatever he did. He always thought he could do anything, no matter how hard the task was. Walt tells us about an instance when the family went to climb Long Peak in Colorado. Walt and the others got tired at the 13,000 feet elevation. But Chris wanted to go further despite the...

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“No one is yet certain who he was,” said an Associated Press article that appeared in The New York Times on Sept. 13, 1992. “But his diary and two notes found at the camp tell a wrenching story of his desperate and progressively futile efforts to survive.”

The young man in question was Christopher McCandless. His identity was not confirmed for weeks, but in time he would become internationally famous as a bold, or very imprudent, figure.

Mr. McCandless died alone in an abandoned bus on the Stampede Trail, a desolate stretch of backcountry near Denali, in August 1992. He was surrounded by his meager provisions: a .22-caliber rifle; some well-worn and annotated paperbacks; a camera and five rolls of exposed film; and the diary, 113 cryptic notes on the back pages of a book that identified edible plants.

Before Mr. McCandless died, from starvation aggravated by accidental poisoning, he had survived for more than 110 days on nothing but a 10-pound sack of rice and what he could hunt and forage in the unforgiving taiga.

Jon Krakauer, at the time a freelance writer, heard about Mr. McCandless’s story from an editor at Outside magazine who had read the Associated Press piece. The editor wanted Mr. Krakauer to write a long article about Mr. McCandless on a tight deadline, and he delivered.

But after the story ran, Mr. Krakauer needed to learn more.

“I decided I wanted to write this book because I felt like there was a lot more to tell; there was a lot I hadn’t discovered,” Mr. Krakauer said in a telephone interview.

Over the next few years he dug into Mr. McCandless’s life and discovered a complicated, compelling story. He chronicled Mr. McCandless’s travels and lonely death in “Into the Wild” (1996), a national best-seller that has since sold millions of copies in the United States. A film based on the book, starring Emile Hirsch as Mr. McCandless and directed by Sean Penn, was released in 2008.

Mr. McCandless’s story continues to fascinate, confound and infuriate readers two decades after “Into the Wild” was first published. Mr. Krakauer said it was by far his best-selling work, adding, “I get more hate mail from this book than probably from anything else.”

“He’s this Rorschach test: People read into him what they see,” he said of Mr. McCandless. “Some people see an idiot, and some people see themselves. I’m the latter, for sure.”

Mr. McCandless came from a well-off family on the East Coast. He graduated from Emory University with honors, then disappeared in 1990. He donated virtually all the money in his bank account to Oxfam, a charity dedicated to fighting poverty, then drove west before abandoning his car and burning the cash he had left. He deserted his family and a privileged life without looking back.

Mr. McCandless canoed into Mexico, hitchhiked north and worked odd jobs along the way. He often roamed alone, but left an impression on many of the friends he made along the way. An older man named Ron Franz even offered to adopt him; Mr. McCandless gently turned him down.

He never contacted his parents, Walt and Billie McCandless, or his sister, Carine. His parents were worried, but knew that long, improvised jaunts were nothing new for their son.

“He was always an adventuresome, pretty self-contained individual,” Walt McCandless said in an interview. “And it’s important to realize that the trip he didn’t come back from wasn’t his first adventure.”

Some readers see Mr. McCandless’s rejection of materialism and his embrace of the natural world as romantic, taking him for a contemporary Thoreau. Many others, especially native Alaskans, have argued that he must have been mentally ill, suicidal or hubristic, and that it was irresponsible for Mr. Krakauer to glorify his story.

Walt McCandless and Mr. Krakauer both disagreed with that assessment.

In 2014 Mr. McCandless’s sister Carine published “The Wild Truth,” a memoir that depicted a physically abusive, chaotic childhood that both siblings were forced to conceal.

“Chris made his choices, and he accepted accountability,” Ms. McCandless said in an interview. But she said she does feel her parents should accept some blame.

"I do hold them accountable for his disappearance,” she said. “I think for him to leave in that extreme way, to go without telling anyone where he was — I do hold them accountable for his disappearance, but not for his death.”

Walt and Billie McCandless said they did not want to comment on the memoir.

“He was a tortured soul; he did what he had to do,” said Mr. Krakauer, who wrote the foreword to “The Wild Truth,” adding: “He suffered as a young man, and he did what he had to do to escape it.”

By the time Mr. McCandless died, he seemed to have found a measure of peace, according to one of his last notes, scrawled inside a paperback copy of “Education of a Wandering Man,” a memoir by the novelist Louis L’Amour. It said:

“I HAVE HAD A HAPPY LIFE AND THANK THE LORD. GOODBYE AND MAY GOD BLESS YOU ALL.”

Read the article “Dying in the Wild, a Hiker Recorded the Terror”

Read the review “Taking Risk to Its ‘Logical’ Extreme”

An earlier version of this article, using information from Mr. Krakauer’s publisher, misstated the number of copies of "Into the Wild” that have been sold. It is several million, not “nearly two million.”

—Daniel E. Slotnik

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