The Inspirational Journey of Chris McCandless: A Story of the Search for Meaning in Life

May 3, 2023
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The Inspirational Journey of Chris McCandless: A Story of the Search for Meaning in Life essay
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The story of Chris McCandless was very inspirational. He is very admirable for his bravery, determination, self-governing and his eager curiosity for knowledge. Chris relates to most young Americans because he lived in the same type of society ruled by materialistic worship and social prestige and he encountered common problems and experiences that we all face. Most young adults have an urge to indulge in the wilderness away from society. Personally, I enjoy being in the mountains away from society for meditative purposes, so I understand his drive to explore Alaska. Most of the youth in American society tend to rebel from their predetermined life and become different proudly. Chris McCandless was trying to get away from all the overwhelming pressure his parents set on him. He was very naive and headstrong in his attempt to run away from his life. I don’t agree with the way he disappeared from his loved ones, leaving them to worry. In his attempt to escape from his life he found that he was truly running towards an experience that would make his life complete.

The Chris McCandless's story is a good example of a millennial with outstanding self-government and dedication. As Krakauer writes in Into the Wild, “He answered to statutes of a higher power. It was his moral responsibility to flout the laws of the state.” (Krakauer) Chris had a complete control over his thoughts and morals, despite all of society’s distractions he was striving to live by a code and pledged his life to it. Chris believed that running was an intense spiritual exercise which he constantly organized. He traveled all over the United States and he did whatever he had to do in order to achieve his life goal, which was to live in the wild. For example, he worked at Burger King, lived with complete strangers while hitchhiking along the way. He effectively got everywhere he wanted without significant struggle.

“Chris was extraordinarily talented. He excelled in almost anything he attempted and let nothing stand in his way. During Chris’s year and a half adventure around the Western United States he showed all of the qualities of a hero.” (Austin Peton, Blue Ridge Magazine).

Chris had strong values he did not believe in materialistic worship and he frequently gave away his money because he believed it was worthless and meaningless. He left a positive impact on everyone he encountered on his journey because of his strong self-governance which was admired by many.

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Chris is brave for embarking on new experiences to truly understand the meaning of life. He was determined to find himself by living his dream and looking for happiness in the wild. He has a spectacular experience living off the land, lasting over 100 days in the mountains, and documenting his experiences. Since Chris was ill prepared and didn’t bring a map he encounters serious moment of computation in the middle of the Alaskan outback. As the moment of death is approaching, he has an epiphany.

“I feel it’s a shame that McCandless’ life ended at such a young age. I wish he would have made better decisions in many of his outdoor pursuits and the way he dealt with his family, but as a character I believe he is an essential lesson in social progression. Currently in America, we are losing sight of the simple things through working too many hours, while we live among homogenized suburban trappings and big-box hell. Many times, I have wanted to step away from it all and release my free spirit within.” (Jim Barry, Raleigh, N.C.NY Times).

Chris McCandless is commendable because of what he concluded from his journey, he realizes that happiness, what he sought from the beginning, is only real when shared. Scrawled inside a paperback copy of “Education of a Wandering Man,” was a memoir by the novelist Louis L’Amour which said: “I have had a happy life and thank the lord goodbye, and may god bless you all.” Chris McCandless proved that humans have an instinct to explore nature and meaning and it should not be ignored. Meaning is truly found in exploration, and near-death experience stimulate change.

“Many people waste away their lives being a slave to something (career, debt, etc.), not really ever being free from its grasp. Chris was just someone who did what we all should do follow your heart.” (Jon Livenood, Knoxville, Tenn,.N.Y. Times).

Chris showed that u must embark on your journey well prepared in order to successfully gain knowledge and stay alive to apply it. Chris learned after death was approaching, that he had the ability to change his self-prophecy after being dedicated to isolation.

McCandless lived a rich, full life despite his youthful death. “Mr. McCandless’s story continues to fascinate, confound and infuriate readers two decades after “Into the Wild” was first published.” (Daniel E. Slotnik NYtimes). As Americans we should learn many things from the life story of Chris such as, follow your desires, have better morals, appreciate your loved ones, practice forgiveness and try to leave a positive impact on the lives of everyone you encounter. People like Chris are the ones who change the world with their small actions, and they should be praised. Chris was striving to be different and was following his destiny.

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away” (Walden).

Those who are diverse explore the world from a different perspective than everyone else and because of them we advance the world into a better place.

I admire Chris mostly for his theories of simplicity, romanticism, and transcendentalism. The story of Chris McCandless is inspiring because he went out and discovered the world and found himself spiritually. He didn’t have faith in society’s expectations, and he rejects what he sees as American materialism. The principles which he tried to lead his life by are undeniably admirable. Many people waste away their lives and never discover there personal meaning in life. Chris will be remembered for his character, his energy, his idealism, and the egotism that ultimately brings an accidental lonely torturing death.


  1. Krakauer, J. (1996). Into the wild. Anchor Books.
  2. Bass, R. (2013). Into the wild: A conversation with author Jon Krakauer. The Paris Review, (206).
  3. Jones, C. M. (2010). “Happiness Only Real When Shared”: Christopher McCandless, Transcendentalism, and the Pacific Crest Trail. Journal of Transcendentalism, (1), 37-59.
  4. Loomis, D. G. (2015). Chris McCandless's social death. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 55(3), 240-261.
  5. Oberg, M. (2012). Into the Wild and the American frontier. Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, 19(1), 131-148.
  6. Roszak, T. (1998). The making of a counter culture. University of California Press.
  7. Slade, G. (2008). The Journeys of Socrates: An Adventure. Arrow.
  8. Young, S. (2008). Escaping the society: A study of Christopher McCandless, the main character in Jon Krakauer's Into the wild. Retrieved from
  9. Zavalina, K. (2014). The paradox of Chris McCandless. The Hedgehog Review, 16(2), 80-90.
This essay is graded:
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Expert Review
This essay offers an exploration of Chris McCandless's life, delving into his admirable qualities and motivations. The author captures the essence of McCandless's rebellion against societal norms and his quest for self-discovery through outdoor exploration. The inclusion of quotes and references adds depth to the analysis. The essay celebrates McCandless's courage, self-governance, and unique perspective, echoing sentiments of those who find inspiration in his story. However, the analysis lacks coherence and depth, with occasional repetition and vague assertions. The writing style feels uneven, sometimes providing strong insights and at other times struggling to maintain focus. The analysis could benefit from stronger organization and more specific examples from McCandless's experiences.
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What can be improved
Introduction: Clearly state the purpose of the essay and its focus on Chris McCandless's qualities and motivations. Thesis Statement: Develop a clear and concise thesis that outlines the specific qualities being discussed and their impact on McCandless's journey. Organization: Create a clear structure with distinct sections for different qualities or aspects of McCandless's character. Analysis: Provide more specific examples from McCandless's experiences and actions to support the assertions made about his qualities. Coherence: Ensure consistent focus and coherence throughout the essay, avoiding repetition and tangential points. Conclusion: Summarize the main points of admiration for McCandless's qualities and tie them back to the broader lessons or impacts his story holds.
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The Inspirational Journey of Chris McCandless: A Story of the Search for Meaning in Life essay

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