The Ignorance of Hitchiking in the Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

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Have you ever wanted to go exploring out in the wild all by yourself? If so you might want to change your mind. Based on Jon Krakauer’s novel, “Into the wild”, The author explores the life of a young man named Chris McCandless who hitchhikes through parts of the United States then ventures into the wilds of Alaska unprepared and alone. Chris was a very intelligent man and graduated from Emery college with a 4.0 GPA. His relationship with his father, however, influences his decisions he makes throughout the novel, in which he wants to live a less materialistic lifestyle. At 24 years old he reaches his demise and ends up starving to death because of the many poor decisions he makes. The author develops many themes throughout the novel. Chris’s evidence of arrogance, innocence, and ignorance leads to his early death and contributes to the authors theme of the importance of knowledge and experience.

Ever since the beginning of the novel, Krakauer has portrayed Chris as an overconfident and arrogant character that greatly foreshadows his doom. Arrogance can be described as someone who exaggerates their own ability and or importance. At the beginning of his journey, McCandless writes in his postcard to Wayne, “This is the last you shall hear from me…If this adventure proves fatal and you don’t ever hear from me again I want you to know you’re a great man. I now walk into the wild’(3). Krakauer uses this postcard as the title of chapter one to show how confident Chris was in himself. While Chris is considering the fact that he might never make it back alive, he writes with a sense of confidence and trust in nature in which he has no control over. His ability to walk into something dangerous shows how overconfident he is in his ability to survive. He has never experienced something like this and the other uses this information to foreshadow Chris’s doom. Krakauer explains how some people ‘admired the boy immensely for his courage and noble ideals”(IX) They thought he was brave and strong for going out in the wild alone. To some people, this is an interesting story with good intentions. However, the author makes us doubt this when he refuses to keep his watch. Chris says “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 it matters”(6). Chris once again shows us stupidity and unnecessary confidence. Not only did Chris not bring his watch, but he also refuses to bring other necessities for him to survive. His trust in himself shows have innocent and nieve he was. Chris’s hubristic tendencies help contribute to his death in which he could have avoided.

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Continually throughout the novel, Krakauer emphasizes how Chris’s ignorance helps contribute to his early death along with his lack of preparation. Innocence and ignorance by definition is a lack of knowledge, information, or experience. Krakauer provides many examples of this at the beginning of the book. When Chris received a ride from Gallien, he explained how he didn’t need his parents and that, “I won’t run into anything I can’t deal with on my own”(6). The fact that he is able to think he can survive shows that he has no experience in the wild. Nobody has told him the harsh conditions that he will face and he doesn’t even have the right equipment to successfully survive in the wild. The author notes that “his gear seemed exceedingly minimal… Alex’s cheap leather hiking boots were neither waterproof nor well insulated. His rifle was only. 22 caliber… He had no ax, no bug dope, no snowshoes, no compass”(4). Any outdoor hiker or adventurer knows the importance of gear. Chris’s knowledge of the subject was somewhat lacking. His attraction to danger and lack of experience contributes to his death in the end in which he starves to death because can not get enough food with the gear he has. In addition to this Krakauer adds Chris’s declaration stating, “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 to the final and greatest adventure, the climactic battle to kill the false being within and victoriously conclude the spiritual revolution. 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”(163). Chris, in the end, admits to all the things he did not bring and what the result of this was. While he had a great adventure with freedom, his lack of preparation essentially killed him. The results could have swayed if his ignorance did not exist. This just goes to show how easy someone’s dreams can be stopped if they don’t take the time to learn and gain the knowledge they need.

Through Chris’s arrogance, innocence, and ignorance he did not have the life he deserved. Krakauer includes this theme in his novel to try to persuade readers not to be like Chris. He wants readers to take the time to learn and gain experience before taking off onto an adventure. Even if it is not something as wild as Chris McCandless. He wants us to accept the hospitalities of others and make sure our selfishnesses don’t overcome and cause others to die. If you ever think of going out into the wilderness, remember to go overprepared. It is better to be safe rather than sorry.

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