Into the Wild: Americana Supertramp Essay example

Submitted By Writerofmusix1
Words: 1475
Pages: 6

Americana Supertramp Jon Krakauer’s Into The Wild is an optimistic account on the tragic death of a young, extremist adventurer. Christopher J. McCandless was truly an adventurous and free-spirited “leather tramp” who had the audacity to follow his dreams. I think that confining Chris’s life within the pages of a book makes him seem more like a fictional character than an actual person. A book, even following the most non-linear plotline, is a hub for organization and summarization, which I don’t believe is the proper medium to describe Chris’s wild life. One cannot rightly judge his actions until they’ve tramped a mile in his worn down shoes, but because most people won’t do that, we must accept Chris as just another person who lived and died having fulfilled his wildest dreams. Perhaps he was stubborn, or as some express, “a nut”, but in the end he was just another American youth who needed to find his way and answer the troubling questions about his existence that could only be procured through solitude. Those questions and the need to answer them are something, I believe, that all people have at some point in life. The only difference between Chris and “all people”, though, is that Chris actually tried to answer them. Along Chris’s journey through the American West, he encountered many people and left a leather footprint on their hearts. He was a hero to many in the essence that he represented a younger, more radical version of themselves. Perhaps the most discernible and heartening example being the impact that Chris had on Ronald Franz, an old, lonely man who had lost all he ever loved years before Chris tramped into his life. During the course of the week that Chris and Ron spend together, Ron built up a great admiration of Chris that provoked him to listen to Chris’s parting words to “get out of Salton City and hit the road. I guarantee you will be very glad you did” (Krakauer 57). This truly epitomizes how Chris is a hero to Ron because one does not simply follow the life-changing advice of a person he’s only known for a week without having the utmost trust and respect for that person. Among those whose lives Chris touched, he also gained a very important place in the hearts of Jan Burres and Wayne Westerberg. I believe that between Ron, Jan and Wayne, Chris received a love and acceptance that his parents faltered to fulfill and he idolized them the same way that they idolized him. Krakauer even explains, “If McCandless felt estranged from his parents and siblings, he found a surrogate family in Westerberg and his employees” (Krakauer 18), as does he include similar details about Burres and Franz.
The sad part about heroes, however, is that when they leave, they take a bit of the lives they’ve touched with them. This is evident not only in the reactions of people who Chris met on his way to Alaska, but in his own family who, upon his death, reveal aches such as Carine’s comment that, “I can’t seem to get through a day without crying” (Krakauer 129) or Chris’s fathers, “How is it […]that a kid with so much compassion could cause his parents so much pain?’” (Krakauer 104). Despite all of the pain Chris had caused his family by leaving without any notice, they still loved and missed him immensely once he was gone. Even Chris’s father, who Chris had described as oppressive and tyrannical, admits that of all people, Chris was his favorite person to spend time with. Many people criticize Chris as being selfish for risking his life and hurting those he loved, but that’s what heroes do. I don’t believe Chris had the intention of dying, and neither did other great heroes in history such as Joan of Arc or Captain Edward Smith of the Titanic, and I personally don’t think that their deaths were selfish either. These tragic ends are not a matter of selfishness; they are the result of a valiant person being in the wrong place at the wrong time. If Chris had lived, I don’t think that people would condemn him for being