Chris McCandless was a very intelligent man who took his dreams and actually conquered them. How many of you people who sit on your ass all day watching T.V. can say that you have done what you were meant to do. How many of you have dreams that you just pushed aside because your either to scared to try or your the everyday materialist american who feeds on money. Not everything is about want its about need and once you peole figure that out you will see what a beautiful thing chris has done! but since im guessing most of you people havent you can not talk.
“one of the many that have been inspired by Christopher Johnson McCandless”
i love what you are say, but these people who have no idea about what they are saying make me mad. Chris did what a person with a heart would do. He ended up realizing that “Happiness is Only Real When Shared.”
i think i might end up gong on the Stampede Trail to see bus 142. Looks like fun!!!
“Chris did what a person with a heart would do”?
more like “what a person with a could heart would do”
he left his family…
lies, stories, whatever , that doesnt matter..
he was selfish and insensitive
he hurt just about everybody he had met on the way by just leaving them. I get that he had his journey to finish, but really?
i find that quite cold-hearted
And hes stupid. He completely contradicts himself
“you’re wrong if you think that the joy of life comes principally from human relationships”
then once he realized hes wrong and hes dying he says “happiness is only real when shared”
plus, he was too much of a moron to realize that there was a ranger thing a couple miles from where was.
Chris McCandless was a bright guy but he realized material objects and a poisoned society wasnt for him. he did what his heart told him to do and he was able to find his strength. i believe Chris IS a hero because he was happy. i hate self- minded stupid people that say he was crazy. he knew what he was getting himself into but it didnt matter. he’d rather be happy than be wrapped up in the boring consistency society that we call “life”. At least he got to experience new things. so fuck all of you that want to hate on him. respect that he was himself and accomplished what he wanted. he may have died but reading Into The Wild deffinately impacted me in a positive way. Not by telling myself to go live in the woods but by being myself and not following the crowd. Kinda like stepping out of the same old and starting something new. being original, thats how you suceed.
After living for awhile at 9,000 feet in the Rockies in my twenties, I know that even I learned that if you try a survivalist lifestyle in severe places, you have to be prepared to not make it back. In the film he couldn’t return because of the the raging river so he had to turn back to the bus. Nature is unforgiving, as Jack London stories show, and Chris’ sad starvation made the tale even more poignant because he did try to return but couldn’t.
Not a bright person, McCandless was completely unaware that a hand-operated tram crossed the otherwise impassable river 1/4 mile from where he attempted to cross. Had he known this, he could easily have saved his own life but he refused to take a map with him. Living in an idealistic life is no substitute for common sense.
It’s a beautiful story, and a tragic tale, but to romanticize it as some sort of spiritual journey is as stupid as going out into the wilderness without a map and starving to dealth. Granted, it moved me, and I envy his courage, and I understand his disdain for life as it is. Still, he died because he wasn’t smart enough to find a way back across a river when there was a manual way to cross less than 1/4 a mile downstream. It’s one thing to dream, and another to prepare to do things you need to do to see those dreams fullfilled. Still, I think God was with him and he is at peace now. His adventures will inspire both the brave and the foolhardy for years to come.
couldnt of said it any better! the book is absolutely amazing. We can all learn something from chris mccandless! he had it all! money! an education! but he threw it all away because he didnt want to just exist he wanted to live! man how great would it feel to be butt naked in the wild!!! away from all the conformity of society!!!!! away from paying bills and working the dreading 9 to 5. Chris used his money wisely.
He was a gift from GOD! to show everyone that theirs more to life than being a rich american snob! If chris wouldnt of died nobody would know the true meaning of sacrifice….
I find it extremely sad that you see all Americans as rich snobs. The conformist society is the way you perceive it, and it doesn’t have to be all “horrible” like some people make it out to be. The TRUE meaning of sacrifice is found in the Bible when Jesus was crucified. Check that out before you say that Chris was the true meaning of sacrifice.
“There’s more to life than being a rich american snob,” types an American named Chris Williams on his macbook. Additionally, if you believe there’s more to life than money and education, why did you say, “he had it all! money! an education!”
“away from all the conformity of society!!!!!” conformity is something you create; peer pressure often causes conformity, but if you refuse to conform, you can avoid it with ease.
“He was a gift from GOD!” Therefore, he had to kill himself.
I find it funny that people are bashing Chris for doing exactly what he intended to do. He made a difference, which is a lot more than many people in this world can say. Look at this post. Almost 1000 individual posts for individual people who were moved one way or another by his story. And there’s so many more sites than this one with posts as long or longer. His life left a legacy, one that will be debated forever by people who wish inside that they could make even a ripple in the ocean of life that Chris made a tidal wave on.
alright read this carefully you useless, mindless, follower pieces of shit dumb bitch. 1. What the fuck have you done lately because apparently all you did was watch the damn movie and believe everything it depicted. 2. Just because one doesn’t go out into the wilderness without any adequate skills and essentially killing oneself doesn’t mean that individual is sitting on his ass all day watching T.V. We strive to be better than who we actually are, we desire education and even through television we learn and become better people. 3. He had a map, and a fucking fishing pole. He was dumb enough to start trying to live in the wild without first learning some skills. If anybody that didnt see the movie read about his true actual story, they would believe that he was trying to die. He tried to eat and preserve an entire moose without learning first how to fucking preserve. WHICH ISNT FUCKING HARD, JUST RUB SALT ALL OVER THE DAMN THING. Apparently emory didn’t teach him common fucking sense. 4. He sent out an SOS for people to help him, he claimed he was injured but in the coroners report, he didn’t have any pre-mortem injuries (In case you’re too dumb of a cunt to understand that, it means before death.) So even if he was trying to prove the point that he doesnt need any modern day benefits to live, he proved another one entirely….the fact that he fucking does need modern day benefits to live. 5. He didn’t consume any poisonous plant, coroners report shows that there were no traces of poison in his bloodstream, he died of starvation in a way in which he was burning too many calories per day to hunt, but the game he catches does not have a high enough fat content or calories to keep him going. In other words, he was a goddamn dumbass, and so are you. I hope you follow in his footsteps and starve your dumb cunt bitch miserable life away, just like his stupid dipshit ass did. The only point he proved is dumbasses will be dumbasses, with or without a college degree.
Someone who hopes you die in the same way Christopher Johnson McCandless aka Alex Supertramp (Stupid fucking name) did.
P.S. His father also reported that before he went on his little adventure, he has a record of doing stupid ass shit that got him almost killed or injured.
P.P.S. Fuck you
P.P.P.S Fuck you again and go die
P.P.P.P.S How did he share happiness by living alone in alaska. All he did was treat people nicely, something that everyone should be doing.
This spiel is too funny, i think Z.Zhao you need to take a zanex, your anger is clouding your judgement. You say all he did was treat people nicely, something that everyone should do. Is this everyone except you, did you not read what you wrote above “fuck you and die” your an excellent example of the ignorance chris was trying to escape from, people who put other people down to build themselves up.
Z. Zhao……sounds like a motherfucking ka-chink name. get the fuck out of my god damn country. what you got karate? over here we have something called a gun. no not your chinese shit. american quality. dumb fucking chink
@ White American…why don’t you shut your hole…you can shove that ”gun” up in your ass you fucking racist bitch. Just because most americans are white it doesn’t mean that anybody that is not white is not american…”get the fuck out of my god damn country” did you know that the land you’re living in was not first inhabited by whites… and who the fuck you think you are? you’re nothing but a fucking racist bitch who threats people with guns… i have something to tell you… grab that gun you have and shoot yourself
WOw, someone definately has anger issues, and could you please refrain from using foul language?, it’s greatly innappreciated, and highly disrespectful.
Thanks. Normal person, and yes, for your information, i am a PROUD Canadian.
I love how people get so angry, just to be right. I find it also amusing everyone who posts about Chris, just continue repeating the same things the last guy said. No wander Chris left society. I’m thinking of going up there now, just from reading all this b.s.
he did eat a poisiness plant you idiot, and stop swearing you make yourself look really stupid. And dont judge chris if you have never met him I stay neutral toward everything until proven. Therefor youve proven yourself to lack sympathy and respect for others. And I would be glad to call you scum. I dont know you personally but the way people talk on the internet proves alot of what kind of individual you are. And stop using words you dont know the definition of, you lack intelligence of a great amount less than the average human being. And I bet you werent vorn when this occured. I lived In haines alaska in 91 since 95 and I remember in the news article in late 94 stating that he died due to consuming that plant l. Now dont waste your time arguing about things you don’t know about. Learn to accept when your wrong. Insulting people who you dont know calling them dumb on the internet is stupid. I bet you everyone who you called dumb are smarter than you goodbye
What a spoiled, rich idiot. It’s easy to be an idealist when you grow up having everything and never having to work for it. Good for him for trying to live an unorthodox life that was true to what he wanted to be, but his high-handed criticisms of other people came off as smug and obnoxious. He was arrogant and payed for it.
Oh….and he conquered NOTHING…..N O T H I N G!!! Cause in the end, he BEGGGED to be found….he asked the GOD he had denied to be saved…Tell me…..if he truly had achieved what he wanted…WHY beg?? Cause he realized that he had been WRONG all along….but, unfortunately, MAINLY because his walt disney view of nature didn’t allow him to judiciously utilize the moose meat….trying to NOT WASTE (the guy didn’t even realize that its IMPOSSSIBLE to waste anything in nature) any of the moose, he lost it all.
Oh yes Chris did a beautiful thing. A selfish beautiful thing. Come on, get over the mystique of unbridled idealism and realize that this guy wandered out into the middle of nowhere woefully unprepared for the adventure. It was also selfish, he didn’t set out to change the world or to help others, he ditched out of society and left some poor traveller (who by the way was prepared for the adventure) to find his body. If you are truly inspired by Chris then you really need to get out more and find a someone worthy of it, not some dead silly idealist who couldn’t even be bothered to buy a map.
you obviously didn’t read the book. he went out without anything for a purpose. its been printed in every article that was written on this topic….chirs was offered a chance to get more supplies and he refused. this was about being away from everything, and away from what he believed to be a sick and twisted society. you don’t have to agree with him. i sure don’t, but you have to appreciate someone with this much passion. passion to do what they want no matter how unconventional it may be.
I also respect Chris for sticking to his ideals and trying to embody those ideals, but he was also a selfish fool who took off into the wilderness with a cocky smile on his face, and a bag that was filled with rice and a couple of books. And he died for it. I am aware that he knew he was severely under supplied, but that does not make any less foolish, in fact it makes it even more foolish. Also the fact that he just left his family without a word and never communicated with them again until his death is selfish and sick. No ideal is worth making other people suffer like his family did.
Regis C., Are you serious? Read the book, then comment. His parents did not abuse each other and neither he nor his sister had to “choose sides” THe author, Jon Krakauer had some parental issues, as did some of the people he referenced, but he did so to illustrate that McCandless had none of these issues and that he gave his life in vain…wow…you have no clue…
How do you think he felt when he lived with his parents? The pain he had to go through, watching them abuse each other. Making him and his sister choose sides? I don’t blame him at all for leaving. I do feel sorry for the sister, but that was a sacrifice he had to make.
Sorry Chris for your tough childhood. We all have tough times in life! But to do what you did to your family is horrid. Your poor sister who did nothing to you but be your loving sister, what a jerk you were. Selfish , inconsiderate, spoiled brat. You took what GOD gave you and pissed it down the drain by running.
It proved nothing at all. I am sorry you were so miserable.
Yo could have at least sent letters home but no,, you had to be the big rebel and hurt. Too bad, you could have done so much more. Maybe those who have benefitted from your tail of woe can put the money to good use,,, you certainly didn’t.
At least you got some clarity before you did.
I was also angered at the cruel callousness displayed by this kid toward his family. They gave him a good education but were guilty of being imperfect . He had 12 years of school but he never learned to count his blessings……….. stupid kid.
He made a choice. He couldnt go out and experience the travel without leaving his family behind. And it made it easy as his family “tortured” him during his childhood. Of course, you can argue with his decision to never call up his sister, but in the end – she accepted it. In case you can’t remember, she praised him for what he did after the news of his death came out.
And also, taken for consideration – his sister also stood close to their family.
Now, for him to make contact with his sister, would probably cause it all to go to waste. His sister could not have had contact with him and also bypass this secret for their family. That does not work, it’s far too complicated psychology for such a young mistress to handle.
So that probably leaves you with the argument; “why did he have to leave them all in the first place, isn’t that cruel?”
Well, I dont have to say anything about that. Just read all the other comments I felt worthy reading.
If you still find arguments against him in your mind, I would say you’re ignorant. This was his life. His parents focused on everything else but himself and his thoughts, and this had to happend. This story has touched millions of thoughts, and has been praised by all sorts of people. Do yourself a favor and explore yourself. Find out why this troubles you. I bet it will do you good someday, if you do.
Sym·pa·thy: the fact or power of sharing the feelings of another, esp. in sorrow or trouble; fellow feeling, compassion, or commiseration.
I sit beyond admiration. Avid in my travels – a military man, war veteran and self proclaimed backcountry enthusiast. I can’t sit unwavering and say that our “hero” the “supertramp” was right or wrong – mistaken, mislead, unrealistic, idealistic, selfish, dreamweaver, inspiring, loathing – all words that may in fact break the surface of man none of us knew, but have some how been effected by. Be it a book, a movie or a chance reading of an article.
By virtue we’ve all learned something from his tragedy. Those of us that feel the need to bash Christopher McCandless should pear back at his life with more insight. Something inspired you to bash his adventurous spirit – his heart filled glances and his misguided ways. Maybe, just maybe, he had something we all need and want – maybe, just maybe in his search to find “London”, he took it too far, but for a moment I think he wrapped his cold hands around it and it got away.
Let us not forget the beauty that risk can bring. Maybe we should just “hop over the fence with a loaf of bread and a pound of tea”.
McCandless went on this journey to get away from the people like you. He wanted to escape from all of the corrupt, and foul living wretches you are so proud of being. He wanted to find truth in himself, truth in the world. And those of you who call Alaska YOUR state, and are piss tired of all of those “hippies” coming into Alaska, stop and think, they have more respect for YOUR land than you do. You pollute the grounds you speak so highly of, and what did Chris do? He cherished it, he loved it, he helped it. You ruin your land with your modern technologies he wanted nothing to do with. And you ignorant people who claim he was ill-prepared need to do some research. He didn’t want to be prepared, he wanted to be completely independent, and he didn’t want a map because he wanted to explore for himself. Yes, it is a tragedy that he didn’t make it out, and yes maybe he didn’t clearly think things through, but that doesn’t mean he was a fool, or he had a death-wish. I am clearly jealous of this man because he did what so many of us dream to do, but are too afraid. He lived his dream, and he died happily. He fulfilled his life and he became something he loved and understood, while the remaining of us sit at home on our ass and watch awe-spiring movies like “into the wild”, or read books about other people and go on mind trips about how amazing it would be to do the things we always dreamed about. But, how many actually do this? Very few. He was clearly something amazing, and most of us are just parasites.
So, in short, you’re a coward and anyone who doesn’t agree with your perception that this guy is a hero….is what? A parasite and a coward? Anyone who has to put aside their dreams to say, fulfill responsibilities to such things as…raising a family or living up to your word or NOT abandoning your friends and family, is a coward?
So open mindedness, toleration and individuality are not qualities you respect then? It’s either, fall in line and agree with me or you’re a coward and a parasite?
It takes much more courage to not abandon the people around you. It takes more courage to try and make a difference then to run off alone and run away from everything you disagree with.
Since when did giving up or running away become a hero quality?
And I just love the fact that you all respect this man’s individuality, but you see anyone with a differing opinion on this story as a fool.
you say he wanted nothing to do with modern technologies, to be completely independent…why then did he take a rifle,fishing pole, knives and whatever”modern” stuff he thought he may need….why live in a bus that “modern man” put there???
Your kidding right? He wanted to be completely independent? He lived off others, avoiding earlier bouts of starvation in his travels by taking handouts and relying on the charity of others. Does the fact that he didn’t actually pay for something (but someone else does), equate to indepedence? He had great respect for the land? He drove his car through, and then abandoned it, in a roadless watershed area. He used a rifle and poached what he could. How was he respectful of the land? During his travels, he sponged off others for food, shelter, and support, and at one point took a job at a McDonalds in AZ. He was hardly independent of society. He may have been a good person. But being unprepared and intentionally ignorant of basic survival skills, to the point of being foolhardy, does at some point become a death wish. Unlike his travels in the lower 48, while in Alaska, he was not able to fall back on someone else when he came to the point of starving – although he had hoped he could, when he left a note seeking help. I know Cub Scouts (i.e. young kids who are not even Boy Scouts yet) who are better prepared to survive in the wilderness than McCandless was.
If you want an inspiration for intelligent, independent Alaska living and respect for the wilderness, read up on Richard “Dick” Proenneke.
In May of 1993 – I left NY City with only a pack on my back (the same age as Chris Mccandless) – I made it cross country via train and took the ferry up the inside passage. I ultimately ended up in Denali, where I worked, explored and loved. That summer I had heard of Chris and his death. I ventured to the bus and felt the remains of a broken spirit. I envy and can certainly relate to Chris’ mindset. I cant help but think, however, that somewhere along the way he lost his will to live….to love.
I went back to Denali for 6 more summers, yet now the place has changed. Alaska itself is in fact still untamed, but I have seen the sad nuances of corporate infusion and Denali will forever be different because of it.
At least the 6 million acres in the park still hold strigent access and use codes. I will forever love that place and will go back at least for a couple of weeks every year for the rest of my life.
Im a mountain climber. Here’s the lesson I choose to take away from this story – for now
When you climb a mountain it’s not enough to “make the summit.” Not good enough to live your dream, it’s not enough to realize your biggest ideals. What I mean is when you get there, you can’t lay down at the top and just enjoy the view. When you’re still young, and inexperienced, all you think about is your ideals -some of us at different points are younger or more dreamy than others, and some even become obsessed with these big ideals for a while. But to do it right, to be complete, to see the trees AS WELL AS the forest, to “finish the job” etc, is to *PLAN* to come back down from the ideal – to balance the ideal with the practical, not to choose one and discard the other.
Getting to the top is not practical, its a dream, an ideal. It gets you exited and it provides a nice view, and as every climber knows, its the easy part. But in and of itself, it’s a useless thing really -especially nowadays- and only half the endeavor. It only means something when you incorporate the experience into the totality of your being. You can only do that if you live long enough to do that. Only then can you call it a lesson and perhaps even pass it on to others. It just doesn’t matter until you can do as much. To die on a summit, or to die in a wilderness without having prepared to the best of ones ability for the practical, the necessary but less romantic ideal of surviving, of returning, is nothing more or less than a failure. Chris McCandless (and some others) failed in that way. Coarse, maybe in the end we all do. And, keep in mind just how young Chris was when he ventured out, when he died.
In my mind though, he doesn’t deserve the harsh ridicule nor the heroic praise that he has often gotten. His death -as sad as it was- was a warning to those with the big ideals, with big dreams about the world and about their place in it: Do what adventuring you must, seek what you need, live your dream, but most importantly, plan and prepare to live, plan to return and teach. Come back down, and put the dream into practice. Life is too precious to throw away – even on an adventure. As strange as it sounds, Im guess Im a little pissed at Chris for not recognizing that much.
A well known mountain guide service near my place has the motto something like “Live your Dreams”. There are 2 parts to this motto, one is the “dreaming” part, but the other is the “living” part. Its really about balance. With every passing moment we leave a legacy of our dreams and our acts. In a way, we always teach by our example. Its not enough that you’re a dreamer, you are -or will be- a teacher as well. Hard to teach when you’re dead, unless your death becomes the lesson.
My point is of coarse not that death is avoidable, I applaud Chris’s dreams and his courage, I condemn his impracticality, beyond that, who am I to judge him?
From some of his last writings, in the last days of his life, it seems that Chris himself realized something along these lines. He wrote something like “happiness is only meaningful when shared”. So maybe he did convey the lesson after all. Its just too damned bad he didn’t live to see it and mature into the complete teacher he likely would have become.
My thoughts exactly on Chris and his adventure. I am equally moved by his courage and naivete. If you go out into the wild in search of the meaning of life, what good is it if you die in the process. I find it ironic that he had to die alone with the realization that life is better when shared with others. (I also find it ironic that he signed away his college fund to Oxfam to fight hunger, which is the very thing that did him in). If he had died kayaking down the river, or jumping from one of the trains he hitched onto, would he have ever become the idealistic icon that he is today? More likely not, he would have just been another statistic. On the other hand, if he had lived and did make it back, would he have actually put his experience to good use and used it to spread the word about his revelation (like his idols Thoreau or London)? Had he lived, would the world have ever known his name or Alexander Supertramp, or did it take his death to elevate him to that status.
What strikes me hard to understand about Chris is that if he truely came to peace within himself on his spiritual quest, (as said in his last words, “I have had a happy life,” and shown in his picture with a contented smile sitting in front of his bus) why didn’t he leave some kind of note informing someone how to contact his family since he knew he was going to die. Wouldn’t he want his sister to have some kind of resolution about where he was to give her peace of mind? If he loved her, would’nt he want her to know what happened to him. Wouldn’t he want to write a personal goodbye to her in his journal. To leave his family phone number or address written somewhere.
What he does know to be true is that he is going to die and that his family will live the rest of their lives wondering what ever happened to him. And there could be a chance that someone finds him. To me, it would be devistating not to know if a loved one was dead or alive or suffering somewhere. Couldn’t he have just given his family that courtesy by leaving this info or writing a goodbye note to them with the chance that someone would someday find him (which hunters did). Instead, when he was discovered, since there was no information about who he was or where he came from, he essentially left it up to chance that the authorities would be able to figure out where he was from through links in his journal. But everyone he ran into only knew him as Alex Supertramp.
If he had found peace, wouldn’t he have found a way to forgive his parents in his heart? The fact that he made several grave mistakes himself during his adventure, and reality proved that he, himself was fallible, (ie by killing the moose and not being able to preserve the meat, or not realizing the waters would rise, carrying no map or not even mapping out his nearby surroundings over the months he was at the bus,) wouldn’t he have seen that we are all human and make mistakes. If he had come to terms with his own humaness and humility, wouldn’t he have had the ability to address the unresolved relationship with his family and thus write them a heartfelt goodbye in his Journal? Or did he just want to fall of the face of the earth and turn his back, never to return or contact his family again. For someone who seemed to have compassion, this baffles me. He just completely neglects to address any feelings he may have for his family on his dying bed. There are no words that he even wanted to come to some resolution about his family as he is in the midst of facing his inevitable death. To me, this is so hard to believe that he was that cold. Was he in that much Pain that he could completely forget about his past like a blank screen? So did he really find peace or was it all an unconscious deathwish? I think this calls for the expertise of a psychoanalyst. Any thoughts? -Ali’s Glass
I so agree with u Ali..if he had a heart, he should have forgiven his parents n left them a note. His sister who loved him so much never even got a call from him..how sad…
I only saw this movie yesterday 14/July/2009….my boy who is 7 watched it with me…n his question was why do ppl do all this…n my answer 2 him was …everyone has a different mind set to c things in their own way…and Chris choose this way of life, which took his life…..
Doug PNW, I haven’t commented much on the Chris McCandless posts here, but your sentiments probably most closely mirror mine on the whole thing. Obviously his is a story that evokes strong emotion, one way or another, and probably touches a nerve in many of us for different reasons. Simply put perhaps “eat to live, do not live to eat,” it is hard advice to truly understand and maybe even tougher once one does understand it fully, and by the time most of us understand it fully we have to remeber TO EAT in order to live. I couldn’t agree more that McCandless’ story is not a hero tale, nor a idiot kid/villan tale, it is at heart an extremely human story.
What strikes me hard to understand about Chris is that if he truely came to peace within himself on his spiritual quest, (as said in his last words, “I have had a happy life,” and shown in his picture with a contented smile sitting in front of his bus) why didn’t he leave some kind of note informing someone how to contact his family since he knew he was going to die. Wouldn’t he want his sister to have some kind of resolution about where he was to give her peace of mind? If he loved her, would’nt he want her to know what happened to him. Wouldn’t he want to write a personal goodbye to her in his journal. To leave his family phone number or address written somewhere.
What he does know to be true is that he is going to die and that his family will live the rest of their lives wondering what ever happened to him. And there could be a chance that someone finds him. To me, it would be devastating not to know if a loved one was dead or alive or suffering somewhere. Couldn’t he have just given his family that courtesy by leaving this info or writing a goodbye note to them with the chance that someone would someday find him (which hunters did). Instead, when he was discovered, since there was no information about who he was or where he came from, he essentially left it up to chance that the authorities would be able to figure out where he was from through links in his journal. But everyone he ran into only knew him as Alex Supertramp.
If he had found peace, wouldn’t he have found a way to forgive his parents in his heart? The fact that he made several grave mistakes himself during his adventure, and reality proved that he, himself was fallible, (ie by killing the moose and not being able to preserve the meat, or not realizing the waters would rise, carrying no map or not even mapping out his nearby surroundings over the months he was at the bus,) wouldn’t he have seen that we are all human and make mistakes. If he had come to terms with his own humaness and humility, wouldn’t he have had the ability to address the unresolved relationship with his family and thus write them a heartfelt goodbye in his Journal? Or did he just want to fall of the face of the earth and turn his back, never to return or contact his family again. For someone who seemed to have compassion, this baffles me. He just completely neglects to address any feelings he may have for his family on his dying bed. There are no words that he even wanted to come to some resolution about his family as he is in the midst of facing his inevitable death. To me, this is so hard to believe that he was that cold. Was he in that much Pain that he could completely forget about his past like a blank screen? So did he really find peace or was it all an unconscious deathwish? Any thoughts? -Ali’s Glass
Doug – you made some great points in your dialogue – and while Chris could have offered the world so much throughout his years, he did not have the ability to recognize it at the time. There was no understanding of balance and the fine line between reality and obscurity was crossed.
In Alaska I held so much importance on learning. It wasn’t until my fourth summer after spending a harsh winter in Palmer that I ventured 200 miles north of the arctic circle for three weeks to live among the land. I was fortunate to come back home to Denali with a caribou (bow hunt)and a sense of knowing I was confident to utilize my knowledge and
humble enough to show my respect to a land that that held a strength I had never known before. That created a bond with me and Alaska ……….. humility was a big part of it.
Something in my brain told me at 25 years old in 1993 that I was not ready to accept certain challenges that the land had held. I guess I’m greatful for my patience – it has made all the difference in my life.
I only wish his notoriority never came to fruition……………..
McCandless’ had a noble goal – to find his true self outside of the contraints of an organized society and return to “nature”. A philosophy espoused by Tolstoy, Muir, Rousseau, Kerouac and Thoreau and others, McCandless believed that man was essentially free only in state of nature, in touch with himself, the earth and exempt from the material needs and wants of modern civilization. McCandless’ nihilism and rejection of material goods, (symbolized in the movie by the burning of his paper money and identification cards) is something that many disillusioned with the ceaseless toil and routines of modern society can certainly relate to.
McCandless is romantic and idealistic, and sincerely believes in his search. His wanderings around the country, whether coasting down the Colorado river, taking refuge in a missionary in Los Angeles or working as grain shoveler in South Dakota are experiences that give viewers and readers profound insights into the diversity of man, nature and humanity.
In the end, however, McCandless’ adventure leads him to the wilderness of Alaska. Geographically isolated, covered with miles of uninhabited natural forests, mountains and idyllic landscapes, Alaska represents to McCandless, the last frontier, a place where man can truly return to nature and find utopia. While McCandless’ lofty vision and sense of adventure is admirable, heroic and and sometimes frightening, in the end it confusing and tragic. Those following McCandless to his last path down Stampede Trail in Alaska cannot help asking whether McCandless was really an enlightened individual or in reality was some sort of meglomaniac suffering from grand delusions that he alone was capable of tackling the extreme wildneress of Alaska ill equipped with the few meager possession he brought with him to this ultimate destination. Without any real outdoor survival skills and failing to equip himself with the few basic things that could have saved his life (such as a map), McCandless is exposed to the realities of a harsh and unforgiving nature, one where survival skills are essential and there no room for learning from your mistakes, especially when your life depends on it.
McCandless’ foolhardy journey down Stampede trail raises several questions of why he made some of the decisions that he did. Was McCandless not afraid to die? What would he have done had he not stumbled across the abandoned school bus? Why didn’t he at least bring a tent? Why didn’t he familiarize himself with the terrain, known hunting trails or talk to experienced wilderness trekkers who could have imparted some basic advice that would have saved his life in the end. And most baffling, why didn’t he take a map? Did McCandless believe that his life exploration would not be as meaningful had be been familiar with the basic geography of the area? Although it appears that McCandless made an attempt to return to civilization at some point, the realities of failing to equip himself and his ignorance of outdoor survival is magnified when he returns in the deluge and takes refuge in the only thing he is familiar with in the Alaskan wilderness – the old abandoned bus, and an ironic reminder of his modern origins. He is weak, exhausted, starving and scared and the inexperience and travesties of his small mistakes compound into eventual starvation and death.
It turns out that the Alaskan frontier, in the beginning, represented to McCandless freedom and serentity; in the end, however, it becomes his horrific prison. What is even more devastating is that McCandless realizes eventualy that happiness is found not in the solitary confines of some abandoned bus in the middle of the Alaskan wild, but in companionship and shared experiences with others.
While McCandless experiences are moving, after watching Into the Wild, you cannot help feel that the “great search for truth” eventually took McCandless to an ill conceived which prematurely claimed his life.
Well put, Imran. However, I have read that he did have “a road map” according to the Park Ranger list of his possessions; also, I have read that he had a $50 tent–not good enough I know. The amazing thing is that he survived as long as he did–and the tragic part is that he tried to leave and couldn’t. I agree he could have spent time mapping out the area during the months he was at the bus. Also good point about the irony of living in the bus in the wilderness in the first and last place. I haven’t seen the movie yet–there is another documentary of McCandless that takes issue with some of the points the movie Into the Wild makes. I want to read the book. Good comments–thanks. J.
are you kidding me it clearly says in both the book and movie he spent time mapping out the area. I mean it was on his to-do list. Look up his to-do list and it will clearly state “map out area”. And i think it’s so dumb how people want to say Chris was an idiot for not knowing that there was a cart to get him across the river and not knowing about the cabins. Ok answer this…when you walk into a mall for the first time do you know where every store is? No, you don’t…yea you can argue and say well theres a map to look at…In the book it says that the map that he used hadn’t been finished and there were plenty of places unchartered in Alaska in the 90′s. Jon Krauker researched this and the cabins or the cart would have been on his maps. And people that say it’s wrong he abandoned his family…If my family fought like that when i was a kid that would leave me permanently scarred and i would want to get away from them as quick as i could. Its also says that he kept in touch with his sister.
hi Mr.Mcandless i would like to tell you that me and my friend sarah willey are big fans of your movie and the book because you tell so much details and and you are the most inteligent person for the roll in this movie and i would love it if you wrote back and tell me more about your next thing you mite right about all right talk to you later.
Chris mccadnless was a stupid hippy. A spoiled teen who rebelled from his parents with a selfish self titled “spiritual journey”. Some of you will call me naive because you choose to romanticize his maverick mindset and that is fine. Many people have been to alaska on “vacation” and somehow think they have acquired the unique perspective of understanding alaska and now have a soapbox from which to preach. Bullshit; I was born and raised in alaska. If you want the wild go get it. Live a life of responsibility to your life. The only way I will accept mccandless being defined as intelligent is if he truely wanted to to die. Otherwise he was an arrogant egomaniac, he thought he was above all of us and our ignorant acceptance of society.
The people I grew up with and all the other people of Alaska are the ones that should be respected and glorified. Not the egomaniacs who come to OUR state, promote the corporations which they later lambaste, then claim to have a spiritual awakening and etheral understanding. Get over yourselves.
Wow -I thought us Californians had pride in our state- But you Alaskans are truly proud. What’s wrong with being a hippy? Question reality. Most of us live our lives through someone elses interpretation of the world. I think he wanted to find his own. More importantly he was brave enough to do it. Did he succeed? Maybe so, maybe not.
A path of ignorance is taveled by those who critisize Mccandless. He wanted to get away from people and go on a spiritual adventure. Hw broke away from people and a thier structured mass. beyond judgment, hate and a path so blindly and ignorantly followed that narrowly leads you too the grave.
And for those who don’t know he was very well prepared. He survived in the alaskan back country for more than one hundred days rice and a 22.. For all of you who say “oh he didn’t even bring a map” that wasen’t a lasp of jedgement but his choice. He wanted to feel conected with nature and his own spirit. He loved what he was doing and i hope you love your walled in existent of forced morals and relations.
Cris Mccandless died living a great and meaningful life. I envy what he accomplished. His years on the road will mean eyons more than decades pf structured existence.
To respond to previous points, it seems obvious to me he wanted a *safe* adventure he stayed in america after all. Secondly he was a young man no peace to be found there, i think he just wanted to test out this lifestyle, i dont think he would have remained in it. Thirdly he had money in the family, this provided a certain freedom to him, to give to charity, i doubt 24.000 would have made its way to oxfam if this wasnt the case.
I guess i would sum it up like this. To him society seemed plastic he wanted to taste something he deemed more natural. He wanted also wanted to immpress in safety so he stayed in american (police, hospital, familar culture etc.)_and gave savings to charity (money in family anyway). Then he did it and fucked up.
A major major point i cannot emphasise enough is money in the family this provides real real real freedom to do as you wish because your not working to get this security. At least he took advantage of this luxury
I’m from the UK and have only just started reading Into the Wild having picked up on an article about Chris a short time ago. Although I do not know the full story (just the synopsis), but am starting to put together the full picture of what he did, tried to do, did not ‘try’ to do but did it anyway etc, I am starting to form my opinion.
It’s a difficult call for anyone to really make, to call him an idiot, a hero, naive and so on, surely the key thing to take away from his story is to pick out the resonant parts that link with your life, or the parts that jump out or make a mark with you, both good and bad.
Part of me thinks he was stupid to set out without the preparation, part of me thinks it’s very brave. I’m sure this opinion will change and evolve the more I read and digest the book. What I do fear is that the film will’ glamourise’ his life and simply not tell the facts allowing the viewer to make their own mind up.
To quote an earlier post, this is, whether you like it or not, a truly human tale with an ending surely makes us all stop and think, for at least a second.
Society is an invention. An invention of social and meterial needs. Chris mccandless wanted freedom from this.
He didn’t want to be a part of it anymore and lived a life many of us would deem strange. It is the only true life. To connect with yourself away from human relations. To find happiness and raw beauty were we were ment to find it.
Chris mccandless was trying to connect wit himself and find his true self. The road gave him a chance to do so. Although he touched the hearts of many people on his quest he needed to break away from them. He could not stay with them for any great length of time. He Needed to go out on his own and experience things many people don’t see beyond their blinders.
Whether or not he found himself is a mystery, but his self portrait and last message give me the idea he did.
Kevin i’m pretty sure staying in america doesn’t mean he wanted a “safe” adventure. He completely blocked himself off from his parents. Also i’m pretty sure he didn’t forget to bring a map as he had been planing this trip for some time.
Those who criticize McCandless as either a spoiled brat or as someone stupid/irresponsible/unprepared are hopelessly stuck inside the same conceptual and societal framework that McCandless recognized as being false.
Within your framework, yes, you can call him that. And the point exactly is … he didn’t give a shit that you think that.
The bravest thing a person can do is face the dishonesty and false sense of security that comes with unquestioned living of the conventional life.
If you don’t look at things from the usual model of success & failure, then you cannot call what he did a failure. McCandless fate demonstrates the fact of the imminence of death, regardless of your attempt to create security by playing it safe, getting a job, picking the right spouse, etc.
With Sean Penn’s new movie release about this very story, it is indeed a very emotive subject and I can empathise with all points of view. I have just re-read Into the Wild and have been touched yet again by Chris’s adventure. What I find captivating and endearing about this tale is that being so inspired by the writings of Jack London and other adventure writers he was compelled to do it himself. So many people ‘talk the talk’ but very few actually ‘walk the walk’. As a father of two daughters I would be devastated if one or both of them lost their lives in such a tragic way, BUT, when I think back to some of the sailing adventures I had at his age, yes, they now make great after dinner stories, but I sometimes cringe when I think about the risks I took. Some of them were reckless in the extreme, but in one’s early twenties, that’s par for the course. Thoughtless, irresponsible, bravado, bravado! Call it the arrogance of youth if you like, but this is how we learn about life and we only really learn when we get it wrong! And in extreme cases that can sadly be tragic. But if one can draw any positive from this, it’s that Chris’s story has made people ask questions. In modern societies, strict rules and regulations are put in place to prevent citizens from taking risks and to conserve life and as responsible adults we fully appreciate this, but as teenagers and young adults…? As I said, I empathise with all points of view but would like to quote this little pearl of wisdom….The biggest risk in life, is to take no risk at all. Food for thought?
The story of Chris McCandless is clearly an emotionally charged depiction of one young man’s desire to put forth all of his energy to defy the need for material things and money, which most people in mainstream society embrace without question. Whether Chris had a mental illness or was just curious as to what it would be like to actually live out the philosophy of Thoreau and London will never be known to the average movie-goer or casual reader. The most facsinating thing about this story is that this young man actually embraced the lives of very intriguing philosophers and writers who questioned the need for material possessions. Many of the cynics who think he was just “crazy” and ill-prepared may not really understand the complexity of someone wanting to experience something more than what mainstream society says is appropriate. I give McCandless more credit than any person who sits in their luxurious office on Wall Street, making six figures, driving their SUV’s and accumulating ‘things’, but have never once contemplated what life is really all about!
chris did a thing not very many of you who have added comments can claim to have done, even i havn’t done it. He set his mind on living in the alaskan bush and did it even though he did not survive. however chris is stubburn and headstrong if you have read the book you will notice several times when he is offered supplies that would better help him survive in the wilderness and denys them. It’s not like it’s a power generator or a heating system, no people are offering him jackets or food or something like that and he denys them just so he can get in touch with nature. well humans were not designed to get in touch with nature as chris wants to. we need some things, were not covered in warm fur or can go weeks with out eating chris was just being stubburn and his death could have been easily avoided if he was just a little more opened minded
I RECENTLY SAW THE MOVIE IN THE WILD…IT IS A VERY STRONG MOVIE….LET’S UNDERSTAND THAT CHRISTOPHER LOVED HIS PARENTS AND SISTER…HE NEEDED TO DO THIS, SELFISH TO OTHERS OR NOT…I DON’T THINK HIS PARENTS NEED TO DO ANYTHING MORE THAN MOURN CHRISTOPHER’S DEATH…WHAT HAPPENED TO CHRISTOPHER IS NOT THERE FAULT… I AM SURE THEY DID WHAT THEY THOUGHT WAS RIGHT WHEN THEY WERE RAISING HIM….NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO JUDGE ANY MEMBER OF THIS FAMILY INCLUDING CHRISTOPHER…HE WAS NOT TRYING TO COMMIT SUICIDE AS OTHER COMMENTS ARE READING….HE ATE A POISONOUS PLANT AND THAT IS ALL….HE WAS WRITING A BOOK…TALKING ABOUT HIS LIFE…THOUGHTS…DREAMS….HE WAS FINDING HAPPINESS AS HE THOUGHT IT SHOULD BE….I DO FEEL SAD FOR HIS FAMILY BUT I BELIEVE THEY CAN FIND PEACE IN THE FACT THAT CHRISTOPHER WAS DOING WHAT HE WANTED TO DO…JUST LIKE ANY MOUNTAIN CLIMBER….HIKER…ANY ADVENTUROUS PERSON LOOKING FOR THE THRILL OF THE WILD….SO TO EVERYONE WITH ANY OPINION OF CHRISTOPHER AND HIS FAMILY…..TRY TO HAVE AN OPEN MIND….
I’m not exactly clear why McCandless is an inspiration. I’m also not clear about how he “conquered” his dream unless his dream involved starving to death in the Alaskan wilderness. It is an interesting although tragic story. I believe that breaking away from the norm and exploring a different path is admirable. More people should try it. I also believe wandering alone and unprepared into the wilderness shows more arrogance than courage. An “it will never happen to me” attitude that cost him his life and devastated his family.
to the blog owner: you can probably thank google for the traffic on this topic. when you google for Chris McCandless, your site shows up pretty high on the list.
to “Jen”: it isn’t that he ‘conquered’ anything. perhaps it is that the essence of life is not about conquering or being a success according to how the hordes of followers have defined it. The important aspect of his story is not that he set out to beat the elements. Yet that is what many people have focused on and have criticized him for. And that only proves to reinforce the point that overwhelming majority of people cannot see the ocean in which they swim: the unexamined collective assumptions from which they live their lives and judge others.
Cope – Granted you were born in Alaska – but I would bet the bank that I have seen more of “your” state than you have.
From the far reaches of the Aleutian chain to my fish wheel in Chitna I’ve covered all ground in between. I travelled that land with promise, hope and passion.
One thing I noticed in my travels in Alaska is that more than half of the people I met in Anchorage have never been 200 miles outside the city. They, just as people in any city , become complacent with their daily routine and security.
Don’t get me wrong – I have learned much from the locals – especially in Denali – but I think Cope is full of shit. I don’t think Chris made some great choices either but at least he had the balls to leave his mundane secure shelter and challenge his ability to dream. The land in Alaska is OUR land and we are lucky a wise man paid 1.9 cents per acre to make it a state of freedom to live and dream without fear or unrest.
Cope – I think you jumped on the wrong bandwagon.
From all the comments on Chris McCandless’ adventure in Alaska and others who did equally reckless things in their early 20′s, I gather this is something that males feel the need to do to put their lives in perspective. As young people, we feel that death is something that is far off, and we find that with each risk that we take that we survive only makes us stronger. Chris was no exception. He was an obvious risk taker, gaining strength from each goal he set for himself. He became so confident he started making stupid mistakes when things started going downhill. Each mistake ate away at his overconfidence, leading to his ultimate demise.
I was a 30 year old, divorced female, broke and confused, when I moved to Anchorage to take a job as an ad-hoc programmer. On the weekends, I would fill the trunk of my car with gear and provisions, and travel by road to as many places as I could. Did I make mistakes? Of course! I was a single female travelling alone. That was risky, to say the least. My first dozen travels, I did without a map. Co-workers spent hours telling me that had I taken the wrong road from Fairbanks to Anchorage, I would have run out of gas and no one would have found me. I never filed a plan with anyone, just disappearing after work on Friday, returning on Monday. Alaska is a big place, and I could have been anywhere. I could have been raped or eaten by a bear or even kicked to death by a moose. The longer I lived in Anchorage, the wiser I got about my travels. I eventually got a map, though I didn’t look at it very often. There are only nine highways in Alaska, so the map wasn’t very helpful. By then, I had been on most of them. However, I did see a lot of Alaska (by road), and saved thousands of dollars on hotel rooms by simply pitching a tent.
The things I got out of driving around Alaska was a feeling of contentment. I exorcised a lot of my demons by simply getting away from it all in my own backyard. What brought me back to my senses was a fateful day when my beloved father died. Suddenly, I felt that I had to play it safe to keep my family from having me die in some senseless adventure. If Chris had kept in touch with his family during his travels, it might have kept him grounded.
Eventually, I started to suffer from mental health problems. With a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, I was able to understand my need to run. It also explained why I didn’t sleep much. Anxiety and panic attacks ripped my life apart to the point where I couldn’t leave the house. In a bipolar rage at work, I was fired, which forced me to move back to the Lower 48.
I was living in Alaska in 1992 when Chris was found dead. August 1992 was a bad month for me, since that is when my father died. I remember the name Chris McCandless, but no details of his death. The year after my father died was a total blur.
My feeling is that Chris was reckless, inconsiderate, self-centered, but somewhat brave. Many people have the need to go and discover themselves, but lack the bravery to actually do it. People die in Alaska all the time, and usually they are young. The Alaskan wilderness is unforgiving, mainly because humans are not a part of the Alaskan lifecycle. If Chris had understood this fact, I doubt it would have stopped him. Chris never listened to reason, relying on only what he knew to be true. I’ll never be sure what to take away from Chris’ story, but each time I hear it, I find something new about myself.
We can all argue about why Chris McCandless did what he did. I felt the same of both sides of the argument at different times when I spoke with friends at work who also saw the movie. We can either blame Chris or his parents. But I think what really amounts to is that he found himself in the end. Two very important things I think we can all agree on that there are lessons to be learned from his adventure. These are lessons from Chris’s own words and from the old men who wanted to adopt him.
“Happiness becomes real when it is shared.”
“To forgive is to love, and light will shine upon us when there is love.”
I hope I quoted the right words correctly.
I am glad his family has finally found closure to their loss.
His life was better than yours. His death was better than the one you will get.
He succeded in both, living and dying. It is very tricky to do that. You cannot be succidal, but you should not like life so much that you cling on it, or worry about it.
All the good “real Alaskans” now saying he was reckless are usually travelling the bush in four wheelers, with guns and a lot of … beer ! Real adventurers, for sure !
The other “type” of Alaskans are well organized, well preparded outdoors men. They care for their life, love their life and worry about it all the time. They never let it go, they never, ever, enjoy it. They are too busy taking care of themself, make sure they don’t forget anything, in one word, they take themself, and their life, way too seriously … they should relax a little, and maybe, maybe only, they would understand Chris … but they don’t.
Death is part of life. All of those, who criticize him, or who admire him, will die. In the mean time, are you living the life you wanted ? Not only a few weeks in the summer, but all the time ? Do you relax enough to really enjoy the moment, without worring constantly about the futur (like, “I have to go back now, it is getting late, and I have to do that too, and tomorow I will do this , bla bla bla” …)
Where will you die ? Not in the wilderness in Alaska, in an old rotten bus, poisonned to death. You will very likely die in a car accident, or worse in a hospital room, surronded by other dying old bodies, eaten from the inside by cancer … Very good death, very meaningfull …
Good luck with your very serious and very important life !
Too bad you won’t even live it … not a single second. You’re too busy trying to protect it, to prolong it, but for what ?
Cyril, I’m sorry that you’re so upset. You may have a point that living life to the fullest until death is a valiant way to go. I’ve often contiplated that very thought. However, you are wrong about “real Alaskans”. They drink in bars, in their cars, but never on their ATV’s and never when they are out in the wilderness. There are too many dangers around to not keep your wits about you. The alcoholics you hear about are the Native Alaskans that were put in reservations (villages) similar to what we did to the Native Americans. These fine people were nomadic, and are now confined to small areas. When the sun goes down in Northern Alaska, it stays down for quite a while. They can’t hunt like they used to, and they can’t fish like they used to. Many are alcoholics now, because it’s the only thing to do.
I take it you are against living in society and its constraints. I am too, and have been for a long, long time. I have had problems in the “real world”, and now I’ve been taken out of it, being medicated to the gills. I get angry about if from time to time when my mania kicks up, but society wants me locked up in my home when my moods are out of control. I want to live, but right now I’m just surviving. I understand where you’re coming from, and I hope you have the guts to do what you need to do, as long as you don’t harm anyone else in the process. Let us know how you’re doing with this. Yelling at everyone else about it only fuels the fires within you, so you must act, but please, be safe about it. At least take a map with you. Learn from Chris’ mistakes, and you should be fine.
All of you are missing the point. It’s fine to have an opinion about Chris McCandless, but at the end of the day, the whole point is that he didn’t give a rip what others thought. He lived his life on his own terms and did not care about what society expected of him. Anyone who thinks he was “not very bright” needs to get over themselves. He wouldn’t care what you thought or said. And to call what he did “selfish” is the stupidest comment I’ve ever heard. He did what he felt he needed to do in order to feel whole, and there is nothing wrong with that. He did not hurt anyone else; in fact, all he did was inspire people. How many of you nay-sayers can make that claim?
To anyone who feels he was a fool, you just don’t get it. Simple as that.
You could’ve change your life in a different perspective way of seeing things. But then you choose not to. I understand you want to experience into the wild, but you took it too far.
You could of saved yourself crossing aroundor going toward up the river. Also save the pain of your parents feeling worry for you. For the past two years and looking for you. Your family needs you. I am ttrying to say that you shouln’t have been gone so long, and maybe you would be still alive today.
Leah, clearly you do not have children. What his parents put him through? Are you even talking about the same person the rest of us are?
As the saying goes, “blame your parents, and move on!”
It was his life to live, and while we should not judge it, we have a great opportunity to examine his journey and draw from it. That includes not only applauding the purity of his convictions, but recognizing his substantial falibility.
Chris had an incedible capacity for appreciation of the natural world, and I admire his ability to live, and die by his ideals.
However, he sadly did not extend the same level of compassion to all aspects of life. He couldn’t forgive his parents, and most of humanity, for their weakness. Not a weakness of form, but of moral resolve and the sin of complacency. It can certainly be said that few people live their values as he did. He felt them so intensely that in his short life he couldn’t forgive those he loved most for not living up to them.
From those who deride his ignorance and many shortcomings, to those who admire his reckless abandonment of social norms, we can all empathize with his societal frustration, connection to nature, search for truth in raw natural beauty, and towards the end, his budding fascination with value being found in sharing that beauty with others (see his highlighted passages from Tolstoy, and etc).
Unfortunately, a journey for self-realization, whether explicitly set out upon for that purpose or not, bears little fruit if we don’t live to tell the tale.
As to the pursuit of an elusive, intangible transcendental wisdom, in this world the final realizations of that search are simple ones, a motherly kind of wisdom life will teach a sound mind regardless: appreciation, the fragility of every moment, and should the journey come full circle for those of us shown a good deal of love, perhaps a return to the warm sensations of our simple beginnings.
Appreciation for each breath, each person, and every physical and emotional sensation of the body is the greatest acquisition of all. Alex had ferreted out many aspects of that gift, and felt it intensely during his travels. Unfortunately for those who loved him, in his youthful self-centeredness he failed to acknowledge his human relationships with the same lasting brand of intense compassion. Though perhaps as Krakauer speculates, given more time, he would have.
Lot´s of different thoughts in here and different view points.
The whole thing reminds me of a saying:
If you are 20 and you don´t want to change the world – you have no heart
If you are 40 and you want to change the world – you have no brain
One thing we should not forget:
People can change and some do ! (after death experiences and so forth)
And some do just bacause of their power of imagination.
And others because they have to become adults.
For me – that is only my interpretation and a feeling – chris would not have stayed in the wild forever.
He just tried to get a better idea or understanding of life (or a place in this world) and to find out if he is able to live a „normal“ life or not.
For him this ment (at that time) to the biggest extend: escape it !
The privilege of youth !
We dont know how he would have thought about that f.e. 10 years later.
Satisfied, apparently, with what he had accomplished during his two months of solitary existence, McCandless decided to return to civilization. It was time to bring his “final and greatest adventure” to a close and get himself back to the world of men and women, where he could chug a beer, discuss philosophy, enthrall strangers with tales of what he’d done. He seemed to have turned the corner on his need to assert his autonomy from his parents. He seemed ready, perhaps, to go home. On a parchmentlike strip of birch bark he drew up a list of tasks to do before he departed: “patch jeans, shave!, organize pack.” Then, on July 3—the day after a journal entry that reads, “Family happiness”—he shouldered his backpack, departed the bus, and began the 30-mile walk to the highway.
To me this sounds like this big adventure was over and he was ready to go back to civilization.
For me – he probably would have made a good professor, poem, writer or what else after this trip or maybe other trips he would have made from time to time.
Now industrie has found a new object to manipulate things. A film that only concentrates on the jesus-aspect of him.
Writers that say he poisened himself:
The book’s Sherlock Holmes moment comes near the end. Seeking to explain why McCandless grew sick and died so suddenly, Krakauer hypothesized that he’d unintentionally poisoned himself. To supplement his fortunes shooting squirrels, porcupines, and woodpeckers, McCandless had been eating the seeds of the wild potato, a native plant whose roots have provided food for the Athabascan people for centuries. Weakened and near death, McCandless had written “Fault of pot. seed” in his journal. The plant was not thought to be toxic, but, acting on a hunch, Krakauer sent some seeds found near the bus to the University of Alaska at Fairbanks for analysis. Initial results indicated the presence of a toxic alkaloid, one that Krakauer made much of, claiming that perhaps “McCandless wasn’t quite as reckless or incompetent as he was made out to be.” It was a small but crucial mistake. As Krakauer presented it, McCandless had been poisoned by a toxin that prevented his body from absorbing nutrients, leading to his starvation.
But the book was published before the seeds’ testing was completed by Dr. Thomas Clausen, the chair of the chemistry and biochemistry department at UAF. “I was hoping it was true,” says Clausen, in his lab on campus. “It would have made a good story. But the scientific results worked against my biases. I tore that plant apart. There were no toxins. No alkaloids. I’d eat it myself.”
Of course, this flies in the face of the McCandless that the public has embraced, and Krakauer’s take has survived subsequent reprintings of the book. Now a version of his theory has made its way on-screen. In Penn’s telling McCandless is poisoned by mistaking wild potato for a similar plant, wild sweet pea, though according to Clausen’s research that plant is equally harmless. Brent Keith, my guide, suggests it was poisoned mushrooms, or giardiasis from drinking untreated water.
Well. We dont know and we will never know why he starved to death.
I guess the reason why he did not let his parents know his whereabouts was some kind of revenge. He needed it to make peace with his parents. And probably he was able to come to peace after this time of total absence.
Unfortunately his way back was blocked and he was not able to get out of that trap.
And people put so much effort in telling that he was stupid. He has made some fatal mistakes, yes. Have you ever seen statistics about young people dying in car accidents in europe ?
To go on a normal – car trip is much more dangerous than what he did !
It is sad that he died – i guess he would have become a good person !
I believe Chris McCandless though not a glorified hero was a brave guy. To give up possessions is a task many would struggle with.
To those who feel the need to come leave useless comments about Chris and how stupid and dumb he was, I ask why do you care? How does him not having a map affect you in any way? How did he taint Alaska’s wilderness, like some dumbass said up above. It doesn’t, Him doing what he did has nothing to do with you so why are you so pissed.
He did what he had to do for himself, and we do what we have to do for ourselves.
I call him brave just because he chose to go into the unknown and be happy, rather live a safe uncontent life.
That’s pretty cool.
And Also… the ones of you say Chris was careless and his death was inevitable, have you ever sat down and thought about the countless number of teens who get behind the wheel while intoxicated? They could have clearly prevented their death, but they decided to do something that was actually stupid. What Chris did was beautiful. even his death was beautiful.
You have a good point, Clementine, although I have written to the contrary. I personally think that Chris was brave, but he was also unlucky. Many people try these things at his age, but they are lucky enough to survive in spite of a “not so bright” move. At some point in everyone’s life, they look for clarity and a point for their very being on this Earth. How they go about finding it is something else. Some write in journals, while others go out into the wild to get the peace and quiet to read their own thoughts. I have no idea what other people do, but I know that the search for personal truth is out there.
Had Chris lived from his Alaskan adventure, I’m sure he would have found that his parents were human and not judged them so harshly. It’s a rite of passage. A lot of kids rebell from the life that their parents led, but eventually come back home. From everything I’ve seen and read about Chris’ parents, they weren’t that bad. We all make mistakes, and parents are not above making mistakes. However, parents feel they have to hide their mistakes so their kids don’t pick up the wrong message. When kids find out their parents aren’t the people they once thought they were, it is a huge blow. It literally takes years to get over it.
Chris wasn’t a bad kid. He was just a kid. He had a good life, but was unlucky at the end. I just feel for his family, who apparently loved him so much.
If you have NOT read the book “Into the Wild” and have only seen the movie, I urge you to read the book! The movie was BASED on the book, but many details were left out of the movie. I’m not sure where Sean Penn got the depiction of the parents in the movie, but it’s not what was in the book. It’s somewhat of a different story.
this KID, let’s remember, was a fuckin idiot. period. anyone can do what he did. we simply aren’t that stupid. people who idolizes this KID are people who have yet to acknowledge his real motives. his search for truth was bullshit. you know it and i know it. why do so many americans worship things that seem to be bigger than they are when they are so very clearly not? how this kid inspired anybody blows my mind. he inspired me to get therapy when i’m feeling oh so blue. cmon people. he was probably gay like the grizzly man, running from himself because he was to afraid to come to terms with his true identity. poor kid died because he was too fucking stubborn to live. the funny thing is that everyone thinks he was truly living by going out and killing himself. what do you think he found? no more beauty than a rational traveler would have found. people do what he did all of the time except they don’t die. if he lived no one would have ever known his name.
poorly said clementine……….he hurt a lot of people. maybe they deserved it, who knows. and chris didn’t piss me off in the least. it’s the people who believe this guy is a hero who piss me off. it’s people like sean penn who piss me off. his whole story was false. the movie, the book……….all bullshit. one of my good friends found this story to be so inspiring while i had to actually get up in the middle of the movie and leave the theatre. some people see a brave kid. all i saw was a troubled kid running from his problems. i very much doubt he found happiness. how the fuck would you know if he did? he fuckin starved to death. that does seem like a happy moment to me. did you know that people found a letter written by chris on the bus stating that he was dying and he needs help. like i said i have no real problem chris. i have a problem with stupidity and i have a bigger problem with people who fail to see recognize stupidity. it’s frustrating. and as far as giving up his personal possessions………….they found him with several i.d.s and 300 dollars cash. obviously he struggled with the task of giving up his own personal possessions like anyone else would.
Leah, cmon. you are a simple hopeless romantic. parents fuck kids over all of the time. i was in therapy at age 8. i ran away from home with 500 dollars to california. i haven’t talked to my dad in years. i’m not all butt hurt about it. people need to get over themselves. my parents don’t deserve to be hurt for their mistakes. this isn’t an issue about chris doing it his way and whether it was right or wrong. neither him or i were right or wrong when it comes to our desires. it’s that he was a fuckin moron and you are twice the moron for finding him inspiring. it sounds like you need to find yourself because if you think this kid is inspiring than you haven’t done anything with your life.
cyril. you’re a fucking lunatic. why don’t you just go jump off a cliff now and get it over with because you are one crazy broad who will most likely accidently kill herself. actually i doubt you have the balls. that’s why you worship chris. because he had the balls you don’t. figuratively of course.
what the rest of you idiots don’t realize is that it takes a lot of fucking courage to live in the mainstream. it takes a strong will and courage to become successful. and we all know success is measured in many different ways. real life is scary no matter where you sit. to say that people who have an office job or work on wall street have no courage are just ignorant. it’s one thing to dog people who sit on their couch all day and watch t.v. but no one should be undercutting musicians, artists, designers, etc. you all immediately think of stuck up republicans when you think of modern day society. there are all kinds of people trying to find themselves in all kinds of places. chris was not special and his quest was nothing special. like i said before if he had lived no one would ever know his name.
You are pathetic. Do you think the only way anyone will listen to you is to say “fuck” in every sentence? Ya, real great way to demonstrate your intelligence and maturity. If you had the brains and character to state your opinion in any kind of grown up way, people might actually listen to you. To say to Cyril, “why don’t you just go jump off a cliff now and get it over with” only further illustrates what a complete waste of skin you are. The fact that Chris lived his life on HIS terms, rather than conforming to what dickheads like you think while all you can do to show your lack of integrity is to attack and judge people you don’t even know. Thank you for showing us all what is so painfully obvious – you are a complete and total dickhead who obviously had one too many shock therapy sessions as a kid.
Ok . . . I guess I can have a little fun with you and become a ‘Hello junior’. I’m kind of a little leary about doing this cause if people actually think that there is ANOTHER useless tit out there, maybe they will ALL jump off a cliff and say ‘goodbye’. Personally, I think we should all just say goodbye to this hello freak. Oh . . . sorry there hello . . . ‘fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck’. Now do ya get it??
Oh ya . . . better rinse out your mouth! It’s kinda startin’ to smell. Gulp Gulp!
You blubber on with some useless chatter about what he did was nothing special. Sorry, but the rule of reality is that you take your eyes off yourself and look onto others comes into play here. Bear with me here as this may not make sense to you. He did what you would not have done. We all know this as you were whining over your $500. (which at 8 years old, you probably stole from your mothers purse) trying to get the sympathy that this was not enough. Not enough. Try it with $20 my short peckered friend.
Here’s an idea . . . I believe Chris tried it with $0.
You might have to leave your car behind though amigo!
I’ve really liked reading these Chris McCandless comments over the last few months. #8, for example, was beautifully written and showed keen insight. It’s been nice to see so many people take an interest in the issues that McCandless’s life and death raise.
These last dozen or so comments, however, are, to put it nicely, immature and lame. If this is the best you can do, attacking each other with junior high insults because you view McCandless differently, I’d appreciate your moving on. You’ve worn out your welcome here.
Passion is wonderful, but it seems strange that people want to grab someone else’s passion and turn it into their own – specially when the other person died in such a cruel and suffering way with help within grasp.
Self preservation is number one and maybe some people have to accept that there are others out there that just want to lay down and die, because they are afraid to face reality.
tens of thousands of people challenge themselves, give up all and go on life adventures. but to die in vain is selfish to yourself and others who cared.
it is a tragic story, with glimpses of enlightened happiness which still didnt satisfy.
All who read should take on board the fact that enlightenment, learning, development can all be achieved without having to die. create a path to tread, but teach and talk to family, friends and strangers along the journey – dont isolate yourself.
As an older adult who has partaken in a number of solo journeys and will continue to do so, I am shocked at the immaturity of responses here.
I also am confused as to why Chris is considered so “selfish.” Selfish is one of those overly-used and ultimately meaningless words. Surely everything we do is “selfish,” from having kids to going to church to being altruistic–we do “good” things to further our own sense of purpose on this earth. And who knows for sure what that is? Seems like everyone on this board is pretty sure about themselves and their place and everyone else’s in the Universe. Now that is arrogance.
Chris was a young man who did what he felt a calling to do. I think the people who get upset that he was selfish, romantic, and had no “right” to be that way can’t even imagine what it would be like because of their iron-clad ties to career, people, money etc. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s the equivalent of extroverts trying to imagine what it’s like to be an introvert–they can’t even mentally conceive of a life lived in that fashion.
It’s ridiculous to judge another person’s motivation and ultimately none of anybody else’s business. Chris committed no crime–he had the freedom of choice to live his life as he wanted. He was very young. It is extremely sad for him and his family that he made some critical mistakes, but to essentially damn him for this is preposterous.
I still think chris was very brave to do what he did. To take some time off – so to speak – and try to live in the wild. But it is tough for me to glorify this adventure like it is done in the movie.
The story of chris somehow reminds me of the following:
scene out of vietnam war movie „platoon“ – director oliver stone: (1986)
„king, taylor and other GI got a special job for stealing some beer:
while getting over this special job – they talk:
king: hey taylor how the f… did you get here anyway – he you look educated
taylor: i volunteered for it
king: you did what?
taylor: i volunteered – i dropped out of college …
king: you are a crazy f….
taylor: i figured – why should just the poor kids go to war – and the rich kids would get away with it
king: what we got here is a crusader
king: you gotta be rich in the first place to think like that.“
The last sentence is the one i am thinking of. I guess it was easier for him to take the time off – like it would be for someone without any diploma or school education and without his strong background (school, familiy, sports).
And another point was mentioned: if he would have survived, nobody would have even heard his name. True.
Now chris got full public attention (being subject of both – a book and a movie)
Wouldn´t it be more important to make a serious heartmoving picture about young kids – who commit suicide ?
„Suicide in the age group 15-24
For the group 15-34 years of age, suicide is today one of the three leading causes of death in all countries (where mortality data is available). In the United States (2001) suicide was the third leading cause of death, among people between 15 and 24 years of age, with a rate of 9.9/100,000. The two leading causes was accidental injuries and homicide.
The suicide rate in Sweden, for this age group, is similar to the American rate. In Sweden, however, the total number of deaths by suicide has dropped significantly since the 1980s, except for this specific group.
The United States and Sweden still have a relatively low rate for this group, compared to the average number in Europe. The European suicide rate is 22.2 for boys and 4.8 for girls, or around 13 in average.
In Europe statistics are collected from 33 countries. The latest avaliable data for the group 15-24 years of age, shows that the Russian federation is at the top of the list (32/100,000), followed by Lithuania, Finland, Latvia and Slovenia. Sweden (which can be compared with the U. S.) is, according to this list, in 18th place (with less than 10/100,000). In the bottom of the list are Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, Italy and last Greece (3/100,000).
It is uncertain how many suicide attempts there are for each suicide death. Different studies estimate a number between 10 and 20. In general, there are more attempts per suicide among women and younger people. Research also show that around 80 percent of attempted suicides among young people are preceded by clear warning signs.“
I learned recently that suicide figures especially amongst young kids (even being age 12) are going up and up and up…
Well this to my thinking is a real desaster !
@ned kelly – very well described opinion – respect !
And I also see another interesting point in this story.
Nature does not always produce the same kind of thing – this would not be clever and no good strategy for surviving. So from time to time it also creates different kinds of human beings. Regardless on how parents grow those children up or no matter what influence „society“ should have on those persons. In a lot of cases the will for freedom is much more developed on those special „issues“ and the need to question things, to find relations between things and the hunger for getting „insights“ or the curiousity to find out new things. I would call them seekers.
So how can you blame somebody for having that kind of mindset. It is just nature which wants to have it.
For me most people are driven by routine and dont like to change a lot.
This would be an easy example
If people for generations life in the same area and are farmers, but the climate is undergoing a drastical change only some of them would move to another place (especially if it is far away). The ones which stay- will starve to death.
For me chris was such a seeker.
Of course you can be a seeker but you still should watch your back !
I can remember hearing his name and the story when it came out. I was 22, just graduated from college. I know exactly where he was coming from. Watching my father, career retail executive, dodge downsize after downsize swallowing hard on his ego and my mother shattered from moving every two years no-longer able to please my father – disintegrate. You begin to question the reason your doing all this. Nice cars, nice houses ideal situations, everything. I love my father and mother for their sacrifice, provided me with everything I am today. I just felt it didn’t have to be so hard. Divorced now of course – me too. Married a girl for the security and simplicity I felt in her family. I wanted a family, she left to pursue a career in the state I left years before.
I knew at 22 I needed a right of passage – something that I could conquer. I chickened out and took a corporate job far from my family with the encouragement of my father – it was safe. I’m not the man I could have been or should be I know that now – somewhat broken after all this. Chris’s journey is something he had to do – in his mind he had no choice. I think he felt that contacting his family would let the sickness back in before he could cure himself. I have no doubt he loved his family, but when your insight is different, and you question things and tow the line in the hopes of making a happy family for so long and are crossed at every corner… you really have to hit the road!
Hi, I’m a junior in highschool and just recently been assigned to read the book about mccandless. I just can’t help but think why are people glorifying him, he didn’t do much but think he could defy nature. I read apart in the book that hinted that he might have been gay so maybe he was just running away (spirtual journey) so he would’nt have to face himself. I agree with hello but I don’t agree with the language but minus the attiude hello is kinda hitting the nail on the head
It’s ok to think out of the norm, thinking diffrently is what shapes our society and on to the economy. But going into the wild with a bag or rice and a tattered map, isn’t thinking of the box. That kids been watching to many Hero movies. But I totally feel bad
I couldn’t help thinking about this young man’s life on my own birthday. Aren’t we all filled with romantic ideals in our youth?
How can anyone be critical of anothers footsteps. The danger is believing that Chris’ path is one to follow just for the sake of sacrifice. It’s an interesting story, one of personal journey. Lots of yin and yang. Was it a good path? It’s not for me to decide. It was the path Chris took. Simple as that. Me….I will go this way….not the easiest way…..not the safest way. But in my journey I’ve learned that we only get ONE life. And that’s not something to simply throw away.
I was only about 9 or 10 years old when I first heard of Chris McCandless. I am now 24 and graduating college in May. I’ve read Krakauer’s book as well as seen the movie. I’ve also just read all 78 posts prior to mine.
I think it’s probably very difficult for most people to understand why Chris McCandless did what he did. What I don’t understand is why so people feel the need to bash this guy. If Chris had walked out of those woods alive no one would have ever even heard his name. No book would have been written, no movie made. But because this guy died out there.. because he made a few mistakes and payed the ultimate price for it.. everyone feels the need to offer their own personal insight as to what kind of person he was. Seems like most are negative. Words that came up often in posts include words like, “stupid,” “selfish,” “spoiled,” etc. And it’s fine if that’s how you feel. But a lot of people have found hope and inspiration in Chris’s story, myself included. I don’t claim to know what kind of person McCandless was, but I know what he was looking for, and he found it and actually touched for a moment. He did what so many people only talk about doing or wish they could do… going off “into the wild” and “living off the land.” It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid. And now, with only 4 or 5 months left college, I plan to do so.
As has been said- life is precious and should be cherished.
its not about knocking the recreation of chris’s story from the information he left behind, its about learning from mistakes so they are not repeated just for the sake of someone creating an idolistic view of a tragic circumstance.
a total awareness of your surroundings, would have found the fully stocked cabin 6 miles away, or even the cable basket just down the river.
The lesson for anyone in the future is, self discovery is enlightening and wonderful – but dont use tunnel vision.
i live in western australia and i have seen and been invloved in trying to rescue people who have died from dehydration(no water) after they have got themselves stuck in the desert areas – no preparation or planning, only blind determination ‘ she’ll be right mate’ that fails when things go wrong.
“glorification of death makes the living feel a justification. but they are still dead to this world with nothing more” …..
He had left all his ID in his jean’s pocket so it shouldn’t have been so hard for the authorities to find out who he was… Oh, and so what if he left his family? That was his decision, obviously its over and done with, he can’t take it back now and I don’t think it is what this story is about anyway.
Thinking, if you believe Chris’ only accomplishment is that he died in Alaska, I think you’re missing most of the story. And if you think he didn’t change anything, I don’t think you’ve done your research on him.
I just finished reading the book and I really enjoyed it. It caught my interest, especially since he was my age and grew up only a few miles away from where I grew up.
I admired him for being able to follow his own drummer. How many times have we all thought about just dropping everything, packing up the car and heading into an unkown? And how many of us have had the courage to do so?
He was young and cocky. I think most of us were at that age. Obviously his downfall was that he was so ill-prepared for what he faced. It’s sad that he didn’t make it out to tell us all first hand what he experienced.
I feel bad for the family; because he did turn his back on them and left them hanging. It must’ve been awful for them. Again, at that age most people seem to be able to afford a black/white view of everything. It isn’t until we get older that we start realizing that life isn’t so much black and white as it is shades of gray.
Anyway, RIP Chris (aka Alex Supertramp) McCandless.
I just saw the movie here in Australia where it is only shown as a limited release.
In the end he did say happiness was to be shared.
He found happiness doing what he wanted to do, being in the wild all by himself, the whole time, he did not cared if he had anyone to share that freedom and happiness with until he realised he was destined to die alone, that’s when he suddenly realised he had no one.
I think many people are living solitude lives by choice and perhaps feel that is for the better in their circumstances, but I suppose, like Christopher, when one knows one is dying, there may be a sense of regret that there’s no one around.
Just a thought, I did find the actor did an excellent job in telling the audience what the audience need to know.
I feel sorry for Christopher cos he died so young and he had so much ahead of him but at the same time I am angry with him for taking such a cavalier approach with regards to precious life, knowing full well human do not stand snowball of a chance in hell surviving in Alaska with just a backpack.
The guy travelled around america with no security ie: job, residence, steady source of income, for almost 2 years before going into the alaskan wilderness. That, in itself and of itself, is amazing and extremely difficult. Furthermore, there is a passage in the book, on page 185 to be exact, where Roman, an experienced woodsman, talks about how difficult it is to live off the land for 2 weeks let alone 3 months as Chris did before he got sick. Many of Chris’s “hardcore” Alaskan critics have probably never even dreamed of attempting something so ambitious, with or without a map. My two main criticisms of Chris are that he should have had a contingency plan in case things went awry ie: a map and he should have at least kept in some contact with his family, whether there relationship was strained or not. I have a lot of sympathy for his mother and father, especially. The agony of not knowing must of been unbearable. This said, I truly believe he had every intention of returning from his adventure and was not suicidal as some have suggested. Did he make mistakes? Absolutely. Ultimately I think he was unlucky and accidently poisoned himself. He goes from being healthy on July 28 to all of sudden on July 30 writing, “EXTREMELY WEAK. FAULT OF POT. SEED”. This, to me, says it all. I personally find his story to be inspiring and tragic simultaneously. Unlike some, I would have found his story just as inspiring had he lived.
Man … this is so weird. When I learned this story, I was thinking — if I had more guts and could stand being alone for more than a day or two, that could have easily been me. In high school I had planned to go into the wilderness like this. I figured on taking a bunch of Total cereal, an ax and some other basics. Live in the woods. I was thinking of British Columbia, though. Anyway, I sure relate to this story. I even hopped box cars for a bit, met a hobo, got chased out of the trainyard. Being cold and alone wasn’t so fun. I’ve got to admire McCandless for his courage, but I also wonder about his level of selfishness. Still, to fully appreciate “the raw throb of life” away from society is still a dream of mine. I’m hard-wired to be a family man, however, so it may remain a dream.
“Hello” you’re pathetic and ignorant. I say that because you don’t seem to be dumb…just ignorant. Try spending some time seeking knowledge and understanding as King Solomon told his son. But like Solomon also said doing this will bring suffering and grief to you. You obviously have never struggled with understanding or knowing more about this life. Like many you are content with your striving for “Things” and don’t want to know how screwed up this life is or how many people everywhere are in pain and why and most importantly what can be done to help people Love each other and not just themselves or those close to them. You don’t seem like a completely uncaring person.. you just seem to discredit what you have not yet learned. Christopher was troubled and looking for answers. I did the same thing but not the same way (Road Trips, spending time contemplating life, making myself change). Should anyone judge him for what he did? certainly not. He was trying, attempting to live better… that’s what is to be admired about Christopher.
Chris, you made some good points in your comment. I can not understand, how people that doendt know much about chris mccandless, can write so weird stuff, like he wanted do die, or that he might have had a mental illnes.
Is there some form of jealousy, that I read in all the alaskan guys who think, Chris was just a fool? Chris survived for 3 full months, hunting with only a 22. Rifle, living from what he found there in the field and forest. Not many so proud alaskans did so yet.
I think, Chris had found what he was hunting for, maybe driven by demons. And that was the point, he went back, but was blocked by the Tek River flowing much higher as when he crossed it the first time.
People blame him, for not having searched a way to cross that river. Why should he? He was okay, no problems. He made the best decission every one would have made, to get back to known territory, the bus 142. Getting back there, he made pretty well untill suddenly, from one day to the other, we read “EXTREMELY WEAK. FAULT OF POT. SEED”. He was so week, he even had difficulty standing up. Imagine walking back to try to cross the Tek River again…
…. a lot of people also blame him, about not letting his parents know about his whereabouts. Do they know, why Chris had this strong anger to his parents, specially the father? Well, I do, but I dondt want to get in trouble with the McCandless. I understand what kind of reaction this might have sparked in the way Chris was thinking.
But it seems, that in the end, he was changing his mind, opend his heart and was ready to forgive what his dad had done to him and his mother.
Why did he not have a map? Chris was the kind of explorer that we might have had at the GO WEST time. He seeked the unknown. Having a map would have showed him all, no need to explore anymore.
But as even Alaska has no unexplored zone no longer, Chris solved the problem by having no map. So, it was unexplored terrain again.
Crazy way of thinking? Maybe, maybe not.
Point is that he did, what most of us want to do, but never do at all. We stick to our job, home, security…what ever.
I wonder what realy happend to Chris, that from the day he had this “EXTREMELY WEAK. FAULT OF POT. SEED”. accident, not even 3 weeks later, he was dead.
Something had made him die very fast. He was living there for weeks and weeks and weeks, and suddenly, wooom, he was gone.
You know you are living when you can’t predict what will happen tommorow
most have barely, if ever lived. They have simply existed, letting those around them make their biggest life decisions. Living with every day with expectations, a consequence for every action, a rigorous plan to success. They’re determined, they’re responsible. They’re fools.
My biggest gripe with the whole story is that Chris is labled as a hero. He said he wanted to change the world to do somthing. Sure he was on some sort of spiritual journy… but if you just want to go live in the woods have a purpose to it. It is possible to have adventures while still being constructive.
I wouldn’t call him a hero, but i would give him credit for having balls. I read the book and saw the movie. All i see is someone who’s tired of the current state of things. Going to bars, going to the mall…. Things that people do in order to tell people, the next day, what they’ve been up to. To feel like they’ve done ‘something’ in order to feel ‘normal.’ The things people do are pointless. I don’t know how he had the mindset to do what he did, but he’s lucky. People work these meaningless jobs and for what? To buy a great car that shows your success in life? No. But i’m a hypocrite. I live at home with my parents and say i don’t need anything when really, they’re the ones giving me what i need so i don’t have to get it. I don’t know what the answer is. But Chris Mccandless tried to find it and for that, i give him credit. FUck.,
DWCatz and Sergio, you sound like angry old farts because of the attention Chris’s story receives. You are blaming him? What kind of lunatic will nit-pick over details Hollywood implies and hold such a stern grudge? Is there a reason you are so anal about this?
Here is a better question though. Have you ever been inspired at all? Or moved by sincere feeling enough to lay your life on the line to experience or conquer it? My guess is, hell no.
Don’t flatter yourselves in thinking he was just a spoiled, hippy rich kid that walked away from money and opportunity. Those kids run back home. He dug himself in deep enough to take away that chance.
Our history is full of (seemingly mindless) acts that later became honorable because of the cause and call to do so. Soldiers leaving family behind and fighting in wars they could never have won. Explorers taking on impossible paths and Seekers who wouldn’t stop until they got where they wanted to go. Those are the ones who gave something, not for glorification, but to answer the question. CAN it be done?
Nestle your selfish, fat asses in your armchairs and degrade what others at least tried. You’re not going anywhere so why not take cheap shots to make yourselves feel better about your own cowardice right?
As for Chris’s story. I hope you continually SQUIRM at every bit of attention it gets as you nit-pick over details to childishly discredit anything you can just to make it more “liveable” for your own pathetic conscience.
I have watched the film, but I have not read the book concerning Chris’ trip into the Alaskan Wilderness…I think that a lot can be learned from this story. For one, whether he accomplished his dream or not, he did have the nerve to take off for the frontier…that is more than I can say for myself and my friends…Also, from his death, we can learn that no one is invincible and that even our dreams take a certain amount of planning…and that sometimes being bullheaded just for the sake of it can be harmful, even fatal…for those people that just want to criticize Chris’ ambition….think about what you have done in the last few months…even though he did not survive, it is the willingness to go that sets him apart…I agree that there are countless other young men that do similar things….I agree that his death has made Chris into what he stands for today….but isn’t that the way it is in most cases? Think of all those people we know more about and idolize because of death….Jean Benet Ramsey (just another child pageant queen)….Kurt Cobain (just another Seattle musician)….Van Gogh (just another painter)….these people were wonderful on their own, but it is their death that people connect with and ultimately learn from…is it so bad that Chris is looked at in the same way?
I think that the most important thing is that people take this story for what it is…do not put your own romantic ideals into it…just take it for what it is….boy goes into the wilderness…becomes a man….finds himself…loses his life in the process….
In a way, I think that the best thing to be gained from McCandless’ story is that to find yourself, sometimes you have to lose your life….
I have the opposite perspective of landry, having read the book and not seen the movie. The story in the book seems to differ from accounts I have heard of the movie in that the book, while it focuses on what McCandless described as his “last great odyssey” to Alaska, it spends more time recounting the journey that lead McCandless there, the people he affected along the way, the spiritual and philosophic journey McCandless took, and the various criticisms of McCandless that have surfaced (many very similar to criticisms that appear in the comments to this post). It almost seems like McCandless’ death is only coincidental to the story in the book. True, the story would most likely be relegated to obscurity if McCandless had not died, but his death is not the central focus of the story. The focus of the book is simply to explore why McCandless acted as he did. In the meantime, the author Jon Krakauer describes the agony and ecstasy of nature in thrilling detail, supplementing his own musings on the subject with classic quotes from famous sources.
I found the entire experience of the book to be less about McCandless and more about the separation of man from nature. One major theme in the book is whether man has so completely divorced himself from his natural state through civilization that he cannot possibly survive in pure nature. That McCandless accepted this challenge and ultimately failed speaks more to the collective conscious than it does to the character of McCandless himself. The point of the book seems to be that most of us fail to even accept the challenge that McCandless took on.
I consider myself an outdoor enthusiast. I have been backpacking and camping with regularity since I was a child. And, while I have certainly experienced some of nature’s brut force, I have never been quite as exposed as McCandless allowed himself to be. Yet the spirit of nature still finds me, as it found me just two weeks ago, on top of Cold Mountain, with the wind gusting, clouds enveloping my environs, rain, sleet and snow blowing parallel to the ground. As I stood on top of that mountain, exposed to the worst that nature placed in my path, and looked out over a rock face that should have granted me visibility for miles and instead presented only the stark, grey nothingness of a storm cloud, I felt as if I was on the edge of the world, staring into the abyss. It is those types of feelings that one derives only from being in nature and exposing one’s self to the elements outside of the comforts of civilization, that McCandless was hungry for. I know this for a fact because I too feel that hunger.
I’ve just about finished listening to audio book “Into The Wild”…the story is complex & thorough in the authors’ research and summation/opinion as to what went wrong for Chris (aka “Alex Supertramp”) McCandless resulting in his death by either starvation and/or plant poisoning. From information provided, it seems that the McCandless family provided a comfortable, upper-middle class home for their kids but Chris discovered a “dark side” in his father’s past and apparently, rather than forgive his dad’s indiscretions, took everything to heart and turned against his parents. But, it was those parents who were left broken hearted in the end. They lost their son and I can fully appreciate Billie McCandless’ pain as I also lost my daughter to death at an early age. It just seems that some young adults do not see danger when it stares them in the face and are woefully ill-prepared for the unanticipated end of their existence. Call it attitude, immaturity, or myopic thought patterns—whatever it is in certain people nevertheless results more times than not in tragedy!
There is nothing romantic about piss poor planning. There is nothing romantic about seeking ones self worth if you fail to find it. There is nothing romantic about selfish behavior. Lastly…there is nothing romantic about death. If you have seen death upclose you will understand. To see what was once alive…breath its lasts breath and pass into nothing is far from romantic….its sad. Life is romantic and the life you lead is the feeder of this romance. Good or bad you can always find life if you have lived. Chris laid his life out in scrawled scripts of a confusing context. I wonder…had he died in the deserts of Arizona or California would the book had been written…would his life been such a mythologic tail or triumph over society….I guess the answer is no. I applaud his distaste for society, I feel the same. My distaste is drawn from a country of users who spit at the very freedoms they choose to abuse. Chris may have died doing what he loved but he dided from being stupid
Although the adventures of most young men would be considered romantic I think dying alone of starvation in a broken down bus in ‘bum fuck no where land’ slightly less so. Having read the book ( which is excellent) it would appear that Mr McCandless , although gifted musically, never actually wrote any music himself. He read a great deal, underlined some interesting paragraphs, but I see nothing left in his own hand worthy of comment . He turned his back on the mighty dollar, giving his savings to Oxfam, perhaps if he was as bright and intelligent as we are led to believe he might have used this money to better effect , but that would have taken him away from ‘his’ dream. I’ve yet to meet anyone born into poverty that renounces wealth, only it seems the pampered few. If Chris had succeeded in getting back to humanity there is ,I believe, a distinct possibility that he would have tapped into the same genetic pool as Mr Jones and that other nutjob in Wacko . Mr McCandless was by all accounts a charming young man who made an impact on people he met and received in return many gifts , I believe a kinder young man may have given his family the same consideration and put them out of their agony but, once again, this was not part of ‘his’ dream.
Chris lived his life exactly as he pleased, which appeals to us all, died young, and had by his own admission ” a happy life”. Nuff said.
FYI, TakeAhike, I haven’t seen the film at all, but I’ve read a lot- about what REALLY happened.
I agree that he was inspired; but it takes more than ‘talent’ to handle inspiration. It takes intelligence to survive; not to starve to death. He obviously lacked that.
What an idiot! I heard about this story because of the movie Sean Penn has done. So this prompted me to read more about this guy because I am always interested in biographys. I think it is sad what this kid did. And really think it’s sad that people are not only sensationalizing this story but also think of him as some hero. To me he was extremely ignorant, quite inconsiderate, and just plain idiotic! He hadn’t talk to his family in 3 years. Right there shows how inconsiderate he was. And then for him to go into the wild not preparing one bit. I think he deserved to die a horrible and lonely death because that is what he asked for. I am glad the Alaskan government did not have to spend money on saving this guy. To me he did not deserve their time or money! He should have had more respect for the land and others– then just maybe he would have been heroic. For being as educated as he was he was –he was quite ignorant! I only have a 4 year degree and I know not to go into the wilderness unprepared. The only thing this kid proved –was how stupid a human being could be!! My sympathys to his family, but I don’t have any sympathy for the stupid!
At the end of the day he made a mistake, but its understandable, too young to fully appreciate all the potentially fatal problems that humans discover in the world. And as yet hadn’t taken the necessary precautions, i.e. making sure you understand whats happening around you.
Honestly, i think everyone has their own opinions on Chris McCandless and whether he was stupid for seeking adventure. If any of you have even read the book you would discover that he was the kind of person who sought adventure which was the reason he didn’t bring a map and lived the way he did for a while. He found that by abandoning his car, this was another great adventure to experience.
People should stop criticizing what he did and how he died because at the end of the day it shouldn’t bother them. Chris went on his great Alaskan Odyssey and was looking for something in which he found in the end.
I think everybody’s over analyzing Chris’ story way too much!!
Everyone has completely misinterpreted and absolutely lost all meaning behind John’s book! Stop all judgments, opinions and most of all, STOP being so ignorant! Take a moment to really find the truth and reasoning behind Chris… to put it simply, he just wanted to escape.
If you had really read the book, it clearly states that Chris was seeking to release himself of all aspects of this life. He wanted to leave behind the control and the planned. It was his intent to ‘take the road’ and ‘walk into the wild’ without a moments thought. No plans, no maps, no anything. So it’s ridiculous to scrutinize Chris for not “taking advantage” of nearby aid, or stopping to pick up a map. That was and still IS the point of his travels. To be lead into the unknown.
His purpose was to see the world, how HE wanted to see it. To bring a different kind of meaning to his OWN personal life. He did not set out to become famous. He did not purposely attract all of this attention. If that’s what he wanted, he would have followed his parents’ plan. And I bet you, if he were to choose a different course in his life today, he would have been someone successful and known not only for his death.
We all take different paths in our lives; don’t judge Chris for his. Death is destiny. It’s not planned unless it’s suicide. Only God lets us know when it’s time to go, or else Chris would have made it out alive.
I suspect most people siding with Chris are younger – maybe the age he was when he died, maybe a little younger or older. Most middle class people can’t have seen enough of the world at that age to make an intelligent decision regarding methods of engagement or disengagement from society.
Chris was selfish – I don’t think there can be any doubt about that. He left his family and friends without a real word. He dumped his car on public park lands. He persuaded an old man to leave the security of his life to explore the counter culture. The writings he left behind – through postcards, journals, whatever – always push his ideals without accepting there are alternate views.
Further, don’t assume Chris was living the life many of you have idealized for him. As Krakauer points out, Chris didn’t really live that far off the margin. In Alaska, he lived fairly close to civilization, much closer than many fly-in cabins in Alaska and Canada. It seems as though he took a very easy route – the bus being essentially down a dirt road which led to a main road.
In California he lived essentially among others even while at the hippie commune near the Salton Sea – he chose to live 1/2 mile further down the road but that’s not really much, is it? Time and again we find him in the company of others and that’s really how we know him – not through his enigmatic writing at the last.
He lived in a bus someone else provided him and lived largely on the largesse of others – whether it was hitchhiking, growing up affluent in Virginia, using money from a family friend to attend a decent college. Even his success at reaching the Pacific Ocean relied on English speaking duck hunting guides.
He failed miserably at true self reliance – when his umbilical was almost literally cut by the swollen river he could not cross. Yes, he shot birds, porcupines, and even a small moose – ostensibly (I can’t imagine how he would have done that with a .22. I think it’s entirely possible the moose was sick or injure and he dispatched it). Those things are trivial. It’s not even mentioned that most of the animals he shot have poor nutritional value and he would have probably died of “rabbit starvation” anyway.
Ultimately, when he could not simply hitchhike to a store for rice or pick up work and a meal he died – even when given the head start of shelter. Also, you shouldn’t overlook the pathetic quality of his last note – left in case someone came to the camp when he was out foraging. His death resulted because no one was there to save him.
Chris was not an original. He followed on the heels of more notable and better writers – men and women with the same passion but perhaps better plans, skills, an intellect. Naturalists and social critics alike. Thoreau, Muir, even Henry Miller better chronicled the plastic quality of American life.
For all that, it’s hard to say it wouldn’t be fun to do something like this once in your life. Would it offer you a lifestyle you could enjoy for a long time? I doubt it. But a brief sojourn would give you plenty to remember for the rest of your life.
For anyone looking to follow his path I’d say – do it while you’re young, make sure someone knows where you are going and when you’ll be back, and be prepared.
To respond to the first posting by Kristina Alvarez, I understand where you’re coming from, about how many people push aside their dreams, but I think it’s just more than that… Many of us have dreams, but some of us go after them and why don’t the rest do the same? I think what happens here is that perhaps some of us have deeper level of spirituality than the rest of others do. It’s always the spirit that pushes us to do greater things than we can imagine. The question is how come others have more spirit than others? What makes some people possessed to do greater things in life? Is it passion? Is it hunger for more things in life? Does it have to with experience that makes u want to do more in life? Nobody will know why Steve McQueen did all of that or why Ghandi did all of that or what drove Nelson Mandela do to that, but one thing for sure about these guys: They had the spirit to go after what was in them. Did God gave them the spirit to do that? Were they destined to do that? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being ordinary and there are many people out there who are content with what they have. But then u have certain number of people who just need to get out and do bigger things for unknown reasons… And on top of that, these kind of people had the tools to survive the ups and downs in the dreams they’re chasing, the kind of ups and downs ordinary people cannot handle… Ain’t nothin’ wrong with being ordinary, for their spirit ain’t pushin’ them to do bigger things they cannot handle… Nobody can force themselves to do big things in life, to go after their dreams, they may have it in their heads and hearts, but if their spirits ain’t pushin’ ‘em to do it, then it ain’t their time to do so, maybe they ain’t spiritually, mentally ready for that… But to those who are dying to do greater things in life, that their spirits are calling for them to do so, go for it and make the best of it!
I am posting this on every site I can find, it may be annoying to some, but I feel that it is only fair that I state my opinion and view of Mr. Christopher Johnson McCandless and his adventure ”Into The Wild” just as everyone else has.
McCandless to me, was a man of intelligence, but not intelligence of nature. He had book smarts. He seemed to be curious of the outside world, wanted to know what it was like without the money, without the everyday standards or stereotypes,without the constant battles to prove yourself to others,he just wanted to break away from it all and experience life being at peace with himself and the world. He wanted to get away from “society” as it was/is.
I believe he found what he was looking for. I also believe he didn’t intend to stay gone forever, whether his expedition ended by choice or not.
I do not think he was on a “suicidal mission” as others assume. I believe he intended to do as he had before, take a break for a while, collect himself, then return just as he had before. He may have known what he was in for, and that gave him even more of a drive to do so. He was being told he couldn’t do it, that it wasn’t safe, that there was no way he could survive on the limited knowledge and gear he had with him when he left. I believe that was his final drive, he was being told he “cant” so he went on his mission to prove everyone wrong. Which in a tragedy, failed.
He made a mistake, which happens, and like most mistakes, his was learned the hard way.
I dont belive he wanted end his life alone or scared, let alone both. Who does?
Remember he tried to return, but saw that the river was too rapid and harsh. He left himself with no choice other than to turn back to what he knew was safe at the time being. He most likely had the intention to try crossing the river again in just a few weeks. How was he to know his life would end before being able to attempt the river a second time? How was he to know that (mind you he had no knowledge of the river or the surrounding areas) that there was a stock-house for hunters, or even a pulley basket/bridge just a few miles down the river. Granted there were many ways he could have made it out, but in the state of mind and body he was in, how do we know that he did NOT try any other times? Because his journal doesn’t recall any other attempts?
He was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Not knowing how to get out.
If only he had taken the time to wise up on nature, before he dove headfirst into it, he may still be alive today, to tell this amazing story himself. Even if so, would it be as amazing if he had came out alive, as it is now, ending in tragedy?
Christopher Johnson McCandless may the life you lived have been to the fullest and to your satisfaction. In death I wish that you continue to reach your goals and dream as big as you did in life. You’ve got cajones man! ;P
May your body rest in peace and your soul continue to explore the world just as you were set to do.
Thank You for your life. Without it, people wouldn’t have anything to bicker or argue about. Some wouldn’t have the drive to accomplish goals. And most of us, wouldn’t “reach out and grab it” when wanting something in life. Critics wouldn’t have anything to criticize. Instead people sit on their asses and argue about one mans beliefs and goals, and inspirations, while trying to teach their children to “go for their goals” to ”find something in life that makes you happy and do it”. How are we to teach our children one thing, but down another man for doing exactly what we are telling our children to do? Christopher McCandless had dreams, he went for them. Sadly his outcome ended horrifically. Unhappy, Alone and Scared.
Many people have many views, but only those who have open minds can respect the choice you, Christopher, have made in your life. Only you know why you set out to explore as you did. Many questions circle around your name on a daily basis that will forever go unanswered.
The greatest teachers in the world are ourselves, and you have taught us a great lesson, that will never be forgotten.
“Happiness is only real when shared”
( For Gracious Sake, Give the man a little respect, remember him for who he was, not how he died! )
I wish people would stop calling McCandless a hippy. A hippy would not have selfishly died without giving his family some sort of resolution. Also, I would appreciate it if some of you stopped portraying him as a second Jesus. Jesus was not a thoughtless, selfish, self indulgent, rich kid. (I am not casting any stones) He preached love for all human beings. Christopher, by his actions, demonstrated that he mostly cared about himself.
People condemn society for all their woes. The truth is that we make our own hell by the choices we make. It is a false pretense to believe that we can survive without society. Humans, by nature, are social beings. Our survival depends on the intricate relationships we have with others. Society has its ills. We have created a world so dependent on technology that we have lost our connection to the natural world. People sit in front of their computers and type away instead of going out and having conversations face to face. Yes, I recognize the irony as I type away.
People have created this cult around this boy, for he was a boy and not a man. He shuned his responsibility to his family and friends. People say that Christopher represents our adventurous spirit. I think he represents our folly, our belief that we are superior beings in the natural world. If Christopher had truly wanted to live by the land, he wouldn’t have stayed in that bus. He stayed there because he realized he would not make it on his own. It is ironic that the society he so harshly criticized provided his shelter for those 120 odd days. That bus was there to provide shelter for hunters during the hunting season. Had the bus not been there, the hunters would have never found Christopher’s body.
It is easy for us to criticize his mistakes. Frankly, if he was so smart, he should have had more common sense. How can you go into the wilderness without a map? He didn’t have to look at the map to get to where he was going. But, it was an easy solution in case he lost his way or needed another way to get back to the society he so despised. If there was no game, why didn’t he fish? He should have learned how to trap. And the killing of the moose was a complete waste, not to mention disrespectful.
People ask to give Christopher McCandless a little respect. Where was his respect to his family? To his sister? What evil had she done to him that he disregarded her emotional well-beingwith such contempt? I find him to be selfish and narcissistic and to elevate him to hero is a great folly. Learn from his mistakes. We need each other for survival. I believe that Christopher would have learned the error of his ways had he lived. But, I also believe that Christopher wanted to die. Had he wanted to survive, he would have made a stronger effort to get out of that valley.
I am not trying to judge him but it seems to me that people misunderstand what he did. He is no hero. To me, a hero is someone who selflessly puts his own life at risk to save others. The Fire Department are heros. The people of the Coast Guard are heros. Our soldiers are heros. Christopher was a deluded young man who thought too much of himself and too little of everyone else. He represents our arrogance, our belief that we are greater than all other living things.
I hope that people come away with some humility when reading about McCandless or watching films based on his life. He was misguided in believing that he would find himself out in the wild. To find yourself, you must look inside. You will not find the answers if you are afraid to take that inner journey. Too bad that Christopher did not understand that.
It seems to me that you are judging others just as harshly as Chris is being criticized. There is nothing wrong in clinging to life. It is the only life we’ve got. Was his life better than mine? I seriously doubt it. And, I hope that my death is not as senseless as his.
your death will be just as senseless,you think you matter to this world????I can’t believe what am reading here.As far as I’m concerned,all humans shouldn’t die tomorrow….but today.Were such a lame overrated species that eventually will come to an end because of our many wrong actions and decisions.And the obvious fact that we’re the only animal who lost the connection to nature.
I’m not sure but I don’t recall having seen a deer build a nuclear plant,or a bear that decides to drive a car….get my point,I could go on and on with that.Fact is we’re lame and hopefully close to extinction.I don’t agree with the Hopi and other native tribes that when the earth cleansing arrives that about 80% of all people die.In order to have a healthy working planet until the time the sun will eventually destroy everything ALL people need to die.
And whats wrong with that,dinosaurs are gone thousands of species of birds are gone,everyday species are gone forever we’re just another one,get used to that,all you life loving thinking we’re so fuckin great and importat…we’re not.Abviously we’re the only one that aren’t.
Him killing a moose a waste???So you don’t eat meat I assume,or have a heated house,nor drive a car,nor driving the streets that are build on natural soil,nor poluting the air in any way….get my point we’re all wasting everything,him shooting a moose isn’t any worse than living in this society, people consume too much anyway in any way…and if I haven’t mentioned it before,we’re stupid and a virus with shoes…but of course we think we’re great and smart yeah yeah.
And the stupid issue about selfishness,I don’t know if it’s because I’m Swiss that I don’t understand.Allthough I lived in the States four years.
What’s selfish when a person decides to walk into the wilderness instead of stiking around his family his whole life and tell em..oh I love you guys so much,or caling his sister every other day to tell her how great she is.Damn get your own life and stop clinging to your family the way you do..it’s sick and not helping at all.My brother who is the bomb,has been hiking all over the world for the past 6 years,sometimes I hear something sometimes I don’t for a long time.So what,it’s his life he doesn’t owe me and my parents anything,and guess what if he dies on his way,good for him it’s called life same as it happens in the natural world,but I know people aren’t aloud to die anymore,even if we’re born so crippeld that we wouldn’t have survived an hour hunderd years ago,if I ever turn out to be a vegtable strapt to my bed…please shoot me.
I guess people are somehow offended when someone dies.It’s like your pride is attacked.I mean if he was still alive this page wouldn’t exist in the way it does.
My final quote,good job Chris….I don’t care either way,are you all afraid of dying or what,cause thats what it sounds to me….we’re so far away from our path,humanity reduced itself to one big joke anyway,so enjoy the illusionest ride and die.
I’ll start by saying not once did I mention him to be a hero. I thanked him for his life because it taught people/myself a lesson.
So one quick question, as I asked before…
If McCandless had survived, would anyone be criticizing him?
His life? His beliefs? His knowledge, or lack there of, of nature?
People wouldnt say anything about him. The only person that went into the wild, was himself.
People do it all the time now, from teenagers to grumpy old men. Why do they not get the recognission Christopher did/does?
Because they are still alive.
And what about those that have passed away attempting to make it in the wild as he did, why do they not get recognised as he did?
Because they werent “unknown”
Jon Krakauer wrote a book about a young man that reminded him of himself. To share with people the story of a strong willed man, who would do whatever it took to reach his dreams.
Sean Penn directed a movie about a book that was about a young man who’s journey had touched many,whether it be good or bad, including himself. Sean Penn read a story by a man, who’s words touched him so deeply, that he could not turn away from giving the story a chance to be seen or experienced by others.
Whether you are a critic, hypocrit, or an open minded human being, this story has touched you, the life and death of Christopher McCandless has touched you well enough for you to care. If not, then why are you so interested, peeved, or even angered by the adventure and life of Christopher McCandless aka Alexander Supertramp before, during and after going Into The Wild?
oh yeah…. and it was a caribou, not a moose that Chris had shot.
I’ts amazing how angry people are at how selfish Chris was. We’re all selfish. If we werent, why are people starving and homeless elsewhere? Why do we only take care of ourselves and loved ones? Why do we make sure to get what “we” or “i” need from the grocery store? Why do we roll our windows up or pass right by the transient on the street corner with his sign “will work for food” or “spare change, God bless”
BECAUSE WE ARE ALL SELFISH
A lot of people arent realizing that Chris found out all that he did was selfish and stupid, when he was on his death bed.
Everyone has done something selfish in life that they regret doing. The only difference between our regrets and Chris’s regret, is that we were able to move on past it, he wasnt. And now in death, he still has to suffer with the everyday reminder.
Dont you think 15 years is long enough.
I honestly think the only people that are sitting here criticizing McCandless, are those that regret not doing something in life, following their dreams.
Get off your rockers, and go for a walk.
Get out of your recliners, and take a hike.
Get out of the house and go camping.
Experience life as he wanted to. J
You wont regret it.
I have no idea who SwissGuy is. I just agree with him on some of his thoughts and views.
Nothing wrong with that.
Seriously though, how immatureMc can people get? I thought this was a thread about Christopher McCandless, not “how stupid can I make myself look by talking about others”. Guess I was wrong.
Man, I really wish I could find a thread with mature people.
In all due respect, I’d like to get back onto the topic of this thread and not spend my time trying to figure out whether you are 3 or 13 yrs of age.
McCandless to me was a MAN who didnt know what he wanted in life, and as MICHELE said, in order to find out who you are, you must look inside first, McCandless either failed to do so, or couldnt find what he was looking for and thought he had to search further.
I’m not a critic. I’m not narrow minded. I’m open to all opinions. Everyone is entitled to their own.
Yeap, and he got it … his mother and sister loved him and cared for him deeply … he got more than a hug from them (even from his own father) but he turned his back on them instead … his choice of course but how could you hurt the ones that love you so much …. why he was so hateful towards the ones that loved him so much that went as far as hiring a private detective to find him … he planed this … he lived to hurt his family … he told his sister he wanted his family to pay the “price” … how senseless is that? … and you want to put this guy on a pedestal? .. you actually encourage people to do what he did??… “Experience life as he wanted to” you say … are you kidding us??
anyway … let me go back to my “boring sedentary” life but full of wonderful people that make me want to get up in the mornings … the one good thing I learn from this guy is to be more in touch with my family and my friends!!
Either way you learned something from him. He taught us all something.
I dont praise him.
I dont consider him as a hero.
I just dont get why what he did angers so many people.
He died doing what he wanted to do. So be it.
Who’s to say for certain that he wanted to hurt people? That he lived to hurt those who loved him?
I have amazing friends, a wonderful family, and a beautiful son of my own.
Not once could I ever imagine myself telling my son he CAN NOT do something he wants to do. Whether it hurts me or not, a parent loves their child unconditionally and encourages their child(ren) to learn and experience things on their own. We cannot shelter our children from the outside world, and if thats what he/she seeks, then let them go.
Yes, I can imagine how hurt the family is/was with the loss of Chris.
Just as I remember how hurt I was losing a family member and having another turn his back on our family.
But we cant continue to be angry at someone or criticize them just because we dont agree with what they are doing or did. We have to learn to accept things as they come. The world is subject to change, so are people, and there is nothing we can do about it, no matter how hard we try. Everything will happen as it does and all we can do is pray for a cure, hope that people who are less fortunate “get well” and see to it that we live our life to the fullest, but only in the ways we are ALLOWED to. We live our life with written guidelines and rules.
We do not have freedom of speech, if so, why are words bleeped out on tv?Why do we have to raise our hands to speak in school then told that we cannot say certain things? Why do we have ratings on movies? Why are we stereotyped? Rich and poor? Alone? Fat? Skinny?
We are creating a world that people are no longer happy in because everything we do is a constant battle. We have to Fight our way to the top to get a proper job. We have to study for a test that we may not even pass. We have to earn what we have, nothing is given. Nothing ever will be.
So this brings me to my final question… is the world we are living in now much more than living it nature itself? Fighting for a home/shelter. Hunting/shopping for food. Preparing it. Debating/Fighting with others to make ourselves more dominant. Taking the land and what is on it and turning it into homes, supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, gas stations, etc….
why dont we all go and live in a bus with no electricity, no running water, no food but the food we hunt, no change of clothes, and then say that McCandless was an inconsiderate ass, who cared nothing but of himself. Considering he gave up all his money, and everything he had and took nothing from society but himself.
He wasnt looking to become famous. It was self satisfaction that he was longing for. Do you really think he cares what ANY of us have to say about him and what he did?
What are YOU missing in life that makes you so angry with him? NOTHING.
We get it, you think he’s an inconsiderate idiot. Maybe even a lunatic. But in all honesty, he did NOTHING to you. He hurt his family. So did my brother when he left us to find himself, but over time you realize that he is doing what makes him happy, and thats all that we want for him.
My brother had no job, no money, and depended on his friends to give him a roof over his head, food in his stomach, and a warm shower. He believes society is BS just as McCandless did, yet we dont shun my brother for it, we dont criticize him for his decisions. We love him for who he is, not for what he does. He is happy, thats all that matters.
Yes it hurts, not knowing if he is still alive or not, and it gets pretty scary at times, but what my brother chooses to do with his life, is what he does. We arent happy with him but we do respect him for his choices. We have no control over what he does, and if we tried to tell him what to do, how to do it, or even just help him, it would only have angered him and push him away even more.
Maybe McCandless was the same way.
There are pro’s and con’s to everything… Right now we are all battling the 2 sides for someone who has passed away. Forever this battle will rage, and none of the remaining questions will ever be answered.
Good for you that you have somehow find a way to get a bit of “closure” in your life regarding your brother … and I truly hope that he is happy wherever he is and that you can continue to live your life without having him in it (physically anyway).
and I’ll leave it like that because this clearly is a touchy subject for you.
I dont mind speaking about it. I was just stating that in order to understand or accept something, you must be able to be in the shoes of the one walking or the shoes of the family to gain the most knowledge of where someone is coming from or in this case, going into. :)
I am, so I cant understand what it is that makes people so angry about those who choose to do what makes them happy in their life.
Have seen the film and read the book and feel the whole story is deeply tragic. I recommend the book highly (if you have just seen the film).
There are several key strands in this story that played out in Chris’s life. He was clearly enraged by his father’s behavoir – sounds rather a controlling bully who tried to impose standards that he fell well short of himself. Chris – a sensitive individual – already rejecting his parents middle class values and then to find he was a bastard child.
Interested in world poverty and wrote a degree paper on the subject seemed to be experimenting with himself what it was like to live without food in the desert etc – he nearly died before in the desert near Nevada. Driving a combine in South Dacota would have appealed enormously – I’m helping feed the world!
Like many of us, he really appreciated the beauty of the wilderness and loved the Alaskan stories of Jack London. Think he found a big thrill from living on the edge, enduring the experience of suffering and its effect it had on him. At this stage, he wanted to play out one last high risk experiment in a much more hostile environment – poor judgement, bad luck, an inadequate diet to sustain him in that climate sealed his fate – if he had not found the bus – maybe he would have frozen to death. He was well loved by those whose world he came into and he died far too young. I can hardly bear to think how terrible his final days must have been – past the point of no return and too weak to sustain himself and walk out and get help. Those final photos – he certainly had some guts.
I read the book many years ago at my sisters request, (she is an avid outdoorswoman, with the dream of one day climbing to the Summit of Everest). I could not put it down until I was finished. She had warned me, either I was going to love Chris, or hate him.
Once we found out that Sean Penn was directing the movie, we were extremely excited to see what view and take he had on McCandless.
I dont recall having any emotion but shock while reading the book, even after I had finished, I can only remember sitting in utter shock. McCandless seemed so full of life, adventure and curiousity. I believed he was only out to gain self satisfaction. To break away for the time being and calm himself, a sense of extended meditaion. Only he could understand.
When I saw the movie just a few days ago, it put me back where I was when I had read the book years ago. In shock. Penn didnt make Christopher McCandless/Alexander Supertramp look like a hero, or an idiot. He simple took what he had read and learned of Chris and put in on a screen the way he saw him, yet he still gave each individual watching the movie a chance to have their own opinion on what McCandless did and why he might have done so.
Congrats to Sean Penn for doing such a great job of making the book come to life, and creating such a captivating movie.
And Congrats to Jon Krakauer for having the balls to write such a wonderful book, that draws you in as a skeptic and spits you out a believer.
I’m in no misery……the world is.I can certainly get enough hugs…..yet it’s not enough.Unfortunatley not everything is solved with a hug and if you truly understand of how bad the earth REALLY is being Fç*”**; then you’d understand my point of view.Most people talk about it,because it’s such a popular issue right now,but really comprehending that in the near future we’re not going to be able to live here anymore,cause we’ve chosen the path of greed,killing,torturing,destruction,annihilation and all the other 700 things we do.I don’t think people really do understand that.Even if you don’t suffer at this moment…..millions of others are and thats not cool,damn am I the only one who thinks so……I guess that’s why were where we are.
I JUST DONT THINK ITS ALRIGHT IN ORDER FOR ONE SPECIES TO LIVE PRETTY MUCH EVERY OTHER ONE HAS TO SUFFER…….that has nothing to do with a healthy planet,and please,who are the only ones that do it…anyone a mirror handy?
I know that some people might think when they read my previous text(and this one),that am some depressed lunatic whos lost it.But that just proves my point of how people are not understanding what we’re doing to this planet.
Have you ever seen a frog drink out his own pond…well we’re doing more than that.
I’m not saying that I’m living the right and holy way,because it’s damn near impossible nowadays.I contribute where I can and try to do my best.But I’m certainly not denying what’s going on and admit that we have worn out are welcome some time ago…(and that we’re retards).
When I’m somewhere in the wilderness and I see a wild animal,that excits me more than the prick whos trying to shoot it.
Sorry…..just had to explain my point of view,and yes we are the pest,whoevers denying that is either stupid or ignorant,by saying that you can still live your life,ok..
I haven’t read all these posts but i’ve skimmed through them. Now that I see how many people have read the book and tried to live a McCandless kind of life shows me that McCandless was not stupid or arrogant rather he was really humble. I believe Chris wanted to be a teacher. I think that he really did care and that shows by how he lived his life. I think Chris was a visionary comparable to Martin Luther King or Ghandi. Through what Chris has done makes me yearn for a life like that. I don’t necessiraly think you have to live exactly like McCandless; that lifestyle is simply not for everyone . I have seen many people be humble by the simplicity of a suburban lifestyle. For some people they think Chris is nuts and ridiculous for doing what he did. But really he is a very wise man for simply doing his own thing. I dream of a day where I can travel to wherever the wind takes me and I one day want to just travel and talk with as many people as I can and see what I can do to help them. Granted I am just 17 and haven’t really had that much experience in life…yet. But I really think that Chris was a wise man. However, Chris practically isolated himself from his family; is this selfish? I don’t think so at all. I think if you see the big picture, his family should be glad he got to live how he wanted. So many people dream of owning this or that or they dream of being so rich that they wipe their butt with dollar bills! And in America today people think well that’s normal; they think money = happiness. And that’s just bs any way you look at it. I believe Chris was trying to write a book about how to live your life. And I think if Chris had wrote a book I think it would have obviously been about how to live life. And simply the way to live life is to do what makes you happy!
Chispita – One day you will rise and even if for just that one day – no one will be there to love you – to comfort you – to make you happy in your mundane existence.
Then what do you do, do you roll over and die…….. You should know what it is like to exist alone, to harbor feelings of anger and revenge, to take on the worst with only you as means to survive.
Im not saying people should exist like that day to day – year to year, but there will always be a time when you’re little comfortable bubble will burst.
I’m Old, I just read the book and I was moved by the actions of this young man. To me it was a human story about something that each of us can recognize in ourselves.
He took a risk, it did not have the outcome that I think even he expected. But I just can not help identifying with his character. Young people need to explore their souls to find out who they are and make their own sense of this life we live on Earth. For this I applaud him. His life was very short and none of us can judge him, for he may have if he had lived gone on to forgive, teach, love and share his life.
I completely agree with ‘Signe’. SImply read that and be enlightened to the problem with most responses. Please people, things go deeper than they seem. Sacrifices have to be made to complete the purpose of ones life and if one is escaping society, they must cut off ties to such a thing.
Heroic, Selfish, Happy, Sad, Lost, Found and the list goes on – each word means something different to each of us and can change according to our circumstances. I make no judgement on what Chris decided to do and certainly have no idea what he was really thinking! We each decide in our own life what we need to accomplish – I see things I wish I could do and I see things I would never do but that’s different with each person. Chris did what he thought he had to do and whether he was sane or not really doesn’t matter because perception is each of our realities.
Anyway, like everything that seems to happen in our world – it makes you reflect a little more about our own lives and hopefully helps us find our own truths and reason’s for existence. The truth of the matter is that Chris’s life was depicted through the eyes of others and because we can no longer speak with Chris we will never really know the reason’s why he did what he did.
So for our amusement – including mine – we write down our feelings for others to hear and share and so maybe some of his last words were right – “Happiness is only real when shared.”
To call Chris selfish or stupid is extremely ignorant. Chris donated all of his money to charity because he felt he had no need for it. No matter what you believe there is no doubting that Chris’s story is one of the most sought out tales today. It is so because many people can understand why he did what he did. Those who cannot see the true meaning of what he did are very unfortunate because they have no idea what it means to take what you want in life.
Very true nate! Chris’s story is so popular because so many of us can relate to his yearning to make a new life. Free from all the material attachements. How can anyone understand what Chris was thinking when they are constantly worrying about money. It takes an amazing person to free themselves from all ties and attachments in order to understand the true meaning of happiness.
Much agreed. Happiness is finding ones true self, with no stress, or worries. Chris was able to experience life in peace. It may only have been for a short while, but I know, if I had the strenght to do what he did, that short while would be well worth it.
Christopher McCandless physically encased the restlessness, longing, and angst of youth.
I’m 17 years old, and after reading Into the Wild, I felt as if this young man was a part of me, a part that I am far to fearful to reveal. McCandless feared nothing. He embraced his longing and made a conscious decision to act while he could.
As a young person, I feel McCandless’s desire for truth and meaning. I myself question why I am here, what I’m meant to do, what life is meant to be. And the need to prove his independence is one I can relate to immensely. He was not trying to prove this to others, as so many have believed. McCandless wanted to show himself exactly what he was capable of.
McCandless was not selfish, or he at least did not realize he was selfish. When you’re young, you make decisions for yourself and yourself alone. It’s simply how we think. McCandless knew the repercussions of his actions, but it was something he had to do while he could. I understand him so well, I could go on forever.
I just ask people to look into themselves. Remember when you were young. Remember the desire to search. McCandless made that search, which is something most of us never do out of fear.
Christopher McCandless accomplished what most could not.
Sitting in New Jersey amidst strip malls and suburban sprawl, I can see the lure of the wild. Life is more than Target, Home Depot, iPods, and “made in China.” As we gain possessions, we become trapped in a materialistic malaise in which our STUFF (and pursuit of stuff) dictates our lives. Each of us, regardless of our class or station, has but a limited time here. Do we let the pursuit of “stuff” dictate how that time is spent? Most of us do, and it is madness. There is wisdom in rejecting the culture of consumption and materialism. There is wisdom in seeing the preciousness of our limited time here AND bravery in choosing to honor it by living boldly, freely, and with zeal. Regardless of McCandless’ personal/family relationships (which it seems is not our place to comment), I think what is admirable is his courage to find his own definition of success AND pursue it with determination in the face of enormous risk. Such drive is rooted deep in the American psyche and deserves our respect.
“but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”
It was a very brave thing that chris mccandless did. I wish that i had the guts to just leave everything that I knew to try and find the answer to life. I mite go about it a bit differently but ya no he had every plan to come back and see his family and the people who he met in his travels. It was unfortonate that he died before he had the chance to do this. Everyone who has something bad to say about people must first look at themselves and then decide why they feel that way in their hearts. I would love to do something like Chris did and find my meaning in life and maybe i someday before my end.
Why does everyone assume the meaning of life resides in isolated contemplation, communing with nature? If you have a kid, ask yourself what the meaning of life is and I would bet your boy or girl figures in there someplace. Further, I would be willing to bet watching your child grow up is an essential part of that pursuit. Something of which Chris’ parents were essentially robbed.
Isn’t it possible that Chris went into the wild because he was actually afraid to live a real life? One in which he was not the only player? I point to the relationship issues between his mother and father, as well as the fact that he seemed to fail at forming friendships which were anything more than arm’s length.
His preferred method of interaction, indeed the way in which we know him personally, is through letters. It’s not at all surprising he went out and died alone. But I doubt he would have preferred it that way. To the one writer who pointed to sacrifices being made – look at his last note – he wanted help and he also wanted people to know how he died. His grand adventure ended pitifully.
To the people who celebrate his achievement – why aren’t you singing the praises of the two other people who went into the wild and died or disappeared? Turns out at least one of them was essentially as ill-prepared as McCandless and no one is lionizing him.
Finally, and this is just a question, are we really supposed to believe he shot and killed either a moose or a caribou with a .22? They are huge animals and even juveniles are tough.
My guess is that there was a diseased or injured moose/caribou who wandered near enough to the bus to be found shortly after it’s death. Maybe he administered the coup de grace but I doubt he brought it down otherwise. Just a thought.
I am curious what your definition of “real life” is. I don’t think nature is the sole answer for humanity’s search for meaning, but it is ONE answer people have wrestled with for hundreds of years in literature, art, and religion. Chris wrestled with it. And he did it at a time in his life when he was young, fresh out of college, unattached to a family that depended on him for survival. And he did it at a time of life when one is right to seek independence and self-sufficiency. Sure he made some poor decisions and paid for them. But his attempt, his search, and his zeal are part, I think, of a longing in each of us to find meaning. I think what makes Chris’s story resonate is that many folks at some point or other felt similarly about letting go and living free. Most of us don’t do it. Chris did, and as a result everyone in some primitive way can empathize. His death, then, strikes a chord because of this common/utterly human–and fallible–dimension. My two cents.
I think Erik makes a great point and it goes beyond just your children. We never stop trying to find the meaning of life and of course it’s different for each person but I know that in the end it always comes back to my relationship’s with my daughter, family and friends and I think in the end that’s what Chris found out but because he put himself in a bad situation of which he obviously couldn’t escape so he never got to experience true happiness! My two cents !!!!!!!
Tres ému par le destin de Chris
Cet homme comme tous les hommes sensibles, venant de je ne sais ou mais pas portés par les vents du sud qui soufflent et polluent notre esprit d’homme libre.
Cet homme cherchais le vrai que l’on nous cache tous les jours.
Depuis plus de 2000 ans nous vivons sous des tonnes de “pas vrai”
belle image, forte image de volonté et de liberté qu’il nous a laissée.
Whether you see the life of this young man through the prism of hero or loser, explorer or suicidal depressive, etc. It is “his” story that brought you all into this forum by way of seeking out his name via Yahoo or Google. For all of your opinions and musings, allow for one second that “his” story made you wonder enough to search for more and to that end, this young man’s life has had a profound effect.
First of all I would like to just mention how much it saddens me to think that many of the people who have posted here in opposition to the amazing journey that Christopher McCandless took have merely done so to spread unnecessary hate. The thought of you logging on, finding this website and going out of your way to undermine the effort of one man to conquer himself without the limitations of his upper-middle class upbringing is not one that I can understand within any humane reasoning I have. You are the people that Chris McCandless spent what I imagine to have been a few of the most worthwhile years of his life trying to prove wrong.
I am not a religious person but have a huge respect for those who are. McCandless achieved something that I most admire in a person; he discovered a part of himself that was unique to him, a God that he felt at one with whilst out in the wilderness. He may have been scared, unprepared, cut off and lonely but he found what he was looking for and died knowing he had conquered what it was he had aimed for. Some of you may call him selfish but the truth of the matter is we are born into this world as selfish beings, if we weren’t then we would surely not have survived much past the age of 2. Ultimately many of us will die in a ‘selfish’ way but if that means that we have spent our lives discovering what life is through the eyes of OURSELVES then so be it.
Chris McCandless’ ‘great adventure’ was for a sense of self worth and a journey to discover a God. In my eyes he did this, something he would not have been able to do whilst trapped in the life he was. To me, Chris is an inspiration. You can all tell me that I am wrong or mistaken but your judgement is not worth my time. Stop slating a man who died feeling at peace, instead, please try and think what it is you bring to the world. If you struggle then in my opinion you have no right to pass judgement on people like myself and so many others who are writing on this website to show appreciation to an incredible man.
Oh, and fighting over ridiculous things like this is elementary.
Of course everybody is not going to feel the way Chris does about things, he’s an entirely different human being, or was.
Don’t neglect that fact either; we are all different. Which is why we have so many disputes, because we want to whole world to share OUR opinions, to think the way WE do. But it takes a certain amount of maturity to realize that is ridiculous, do we really want everybody to be like us, to feel the way we feel?
Imagine that. You wouldn’t even be an individual person, just another one of those things droning on about the same thing the guy next to you is. Variety is the spice of life, and unfortuanately indifference tags along close behind it, so the best we can do is bite our toungue and take a while to listen to everyone else without judgement. Who knows, you might even enjoy it.
As for Chris, yes I guess you can say I can relate to him a little bit. My brother is the exact same way, and we are so close it reminds me of his and his sister carrines relationship. But that doesn’t mean I can’t listen to other peoples individual.
Chris was a rare persona, one that you either love or hate. But theres no reason to fight. He’s gone, he’s had his life. Now I think all of you guys should drop this incredulous argument, and move on with yours.
I have just spent too much time in the middle of the night reading all these posts—many of which are judgmental and and just plain mean. I am 2 years older than Chris would have been had he lived. When he died, in 1992, I was in the last trimester of my 3rd pregnancy, a married stay at home mom who was living in a house in the woods in the suburbs. Everyday I would look out at those woods and dream about just going out there and fending for myself and living with nature, away from the Jones’s and the stupidity of modern day life. But, I had responsibilities, I had 3 small children, a husband and a home to take care of, my wanderlust was buried deep as I lived my day to day life.
Growing up, I relished books—favorites being books where people have to depend on themselves to survive. The “Little House” books had me dreaming about being a pioneer and coming to the west with only what I could carry in a wagon and to start out with nothing. I read Jack London, and as a teen I dreamed about go to Alaska. I want to go and see Walden Pond–I have always said I should have been born in the dark/middle ages or in the 17th-19th centuries. I have always felt the pull to be self-sufficient and break free of the luxuries that we all take for granted. I watch silly shows like Northern Exposure and even Men in Trees—and I still feel the pull to Alaska and it’s wilderness now. I have sent in applications to be on the reality shows on PBS, Frontier House, Colonial House, etc., but having young children, we were always turned down. I have responsibilities and while I relish living in the wild, fending for myself—my kids don’t want or need that kind of life. I wish I could have at least been brave enough to explore more when I was younger and unattached! Don’t get me wrong, I love my life—but that yearning will always be there–which is why I have a lot of respect for Chris—he did it–not only in Alaska for quite a while, but he did it where ever he was—it was part of his life. I have to be content with living on the farm my husband and I just bought and trying to live more “simply” and self-sufficiently that we have lived. Chris was well experienced in simplicity and self sufficiency by the time he had arrived in Alaska—yes he still made errors, but we ALL do.
What grabbed me about Chris, was that he was BRAVE enough to actually DO IT. Sure he made stupid mistakes and he could be selfish—WHO ISN’T? I don’t know many people in their young 20′s that haven’t been foolhardy and selfish at some time—I know I was, even though I was a mother and a wife, I had my moments.
What bothers me is the extreme hatefulness of some of these posts. Michelle goes on and on about how selfish Chris was and how could he do that to his family. You know Michelle, young people are selfish and they do see things as black and white. I hated my father for YEARS for abandoning his family when his 3 children were young. When I finally got to know him again, many years later, I felt sorry for him—sure, we suffered greatly for his selfishness and mistakes—but he will suffer even more. He missed out on knowing his kids and watching them grow. He’s lost one son already—he’ll never know him. If you had asked me at 24 what I felt, it would have been anger and lack of forgiveness. Now, at 41 and having 6 kids of my own, I feel pity for him and I forgave him years ago—I did that for me. I am quite sure, as Chris grew up and experienced life more, he too would have been able to forgive his father and become close to his family again. We all make mistakes, some more horrible than others. I don’t think there is a perfect person out there who can say otherwise—and unless you are one, then you really shouldn’t be throwing stones in your glass house.
Being the mother of 3 teens can be very frustrating. Teenagers think they know it all and have all the answers. My 19 year old daughter moved out into her own apartment last fall. I tried to prepare her, to teach her things she would need to know to survive on her own—but she didn’t want my advice—she KNEW how to do things and could manage just fine on her own. This same person calls me everyday with questions on how to do everything she wouldn’t let me teach her when she was home.
Chris was brave. Most people could not give up all their possessions and their comfortable life to live on the road and bounce around from place to place. As a mother, I wish he could have taken the time to let his family know where he was and what he was doing. But I am not going to judge him for not contacting them—who am I to decide what was right for him??? Who has the right to decide? Maybe, after learning about his fathers’ infidelities and bigamy, he needed time to deal with it and time to work out the anger at this father—that is not selfish, it is human. His parents kept some pretty big secrets from him and I can imagine it was a shock to find out from people he barely knew. They were selfish/human in keeping it from him, and he was selfish/human in how he dealt with it. They were all selfish in their way and karma has a way of catching up with you after a while. It’s not right or wrong, it just is and those who rant and rave about how selfish Chris was needs to look at the WHOLE story.
I am really disappointed in the immaturity in many of these posts and the hatefulness. He was a kid, he had strong ideals and he wanted to find what many of us are missing. He actually did something. It may seem foolish to some, but I think he accomplished more in his 2 years on the road and his final journey to Alaska than many of the people who post to this board will find in a lifetime. I think we can all learn from him—the way he lived AND the way he died. As for me, I probably will ever get to Alaska—my youngest is 2 and by the time he is ready to leave the nest, I’ll be in my 60′s and I’ll hopefully be happy and comfortable and my wanderlust will be sufficiently tamed–it has been for years, although it pulls at me occasionally and I end up throwing the family in the van for a spontaneous road trip to somewhere. We’ve not gone too far, but we do tend to venture out further and further each time. We do play at medieval re-enacting so that quells some of my desires but we always end up back in our comfortable home. Chris was real, he came up with different plans, he executed them—in some he was successful, some he was foolish, some he was lucky that there are many good people out there to lend a hand. The man is dead, and calling him names and ranting and raving about how selfish and stupid and ignorant some might think he was is just—lame. I don’t think he was a hero, I don’t think he was any more selfish than anyone else. But I admire his tenacity and I wish he could have made it out of Alaska alive. I wish people could see that what he did WAS extraordinary, even with the mistakes. What is even more extraordinary about him is how his experiences can stir such deep, intense emotions in people–either they admire him for doing what they wish they could do, or they hate him for doing what they would never have the initiative to do. I admire him for doing what he set out to do—obviously he was a good person, he made some great friends along the way and no one really has ever had anything bad to say about him other than he was intense at times and selfish and foolish—which everyone can be.
Punk, that’s it. Had issues, mommy and daddy gave him everything he wanted and that wasn’t enough, now was it?
Richard Proenneke-a true Alaskan survivor. Read about him, admire him, idolize him if you must, but for God sakes, not this turd.
Isnt this what Chris had said he wanted to get away from? Society, every day pressures to become something you have no interest in being? Poor Chris is being chewed up and swallowed by the very people he wanted to break free from.
People are arguing about another mans decisions.. What good is it going to do you to sit and argue about how “stupid” or “selfish” you think he was? It’s not getting you anywhere.
I’m sure those of you who think negatively about Chris, are the same people that constantly fight/argue with family and friends thinking your sh*t dont stink… get over yourselves. if you’re not happy with what he had chosen in life, then let it be… there’s no need to come on, search for MORE information about a man that you have no interest in, just to put him down…. or is that whats wrong? you are totally interested in this man, but you dont want to admit that deep down inside you wish you would have, or could do what he did… just pack up and go, whether it be temporary or permanent, to give yourself a BREAK… please… some people make me sick… and its pretty obvious, you werent taught about respect growing up. best piece of advice I were ever given,
“if you dont have something nice to say, dont say anything at all…”
maybe others should learn about it.
Don’t forget, near the end, Chris left a desperate note begging for the help he once shunned. He dismissed the knowledge of others when he didn’t perceive any immediate threat, but pleaded for this help when he realized death was around the corner.
Maybe in the end, Chris finally realized the social structure he rejected was his only chance at salvation. Maybe this social structure that he held in such contempt actually evolved based on its propensity toward preservation.
Unfortunately, Chris (brave hero, arrogant idiot, or whatever definition you prefer) is dead!
McCandless was neither especially brave nor especially dumb. He demonstrated care for people far from his life experience and disdain for his own family. He is not the first nor the last do-gooder to fall into that. There is a larger point here that is missed by most posters and I am willing to bet that they are not northerners.
Southerners and city people have the heartbreaking idea that wilderness is a commodity that they have a consumers’ right to look at and they sadly have no idea that there is a cannon of skills and knowledge that are essential to living with and in nature. They think that nature is a big benevolent mother and that we all have some “instinctual” roadmap to survival.
I have not watched this film because I have not been able to bring myself to witness the beatifying of yet another pathetic combination of arrogance and romanticism. After suffering “Grizzly Man”, wishing against hope that Herzog with all his genius would figure it out and give more than a cursory 30 seconds of screen time to a knowledgeable local (the aboriginal man close to the beginning) and seeing that the director left the wisdom out so as not to interfere with our voyeuristic romp, I don’t want to have to watch this well-meaning boy kill himself because he’s too self-absorbed to find someone whose life is imbedded in that landscape and learn from them.
If an aboriginal kid from a small northern town showed up in Chicago and walked the lane divider lines of the freeway, getting himself killed would we call him a hero or an idiot? From a northern perspective, McCandless did just that.
Chris McCandless sure was immature, misguided, assenine and selfish for a young man thought to be so bright. It just goes to show that “adulthood” is not reflected by chronological age but by hard earned maturity.
His need to go camping extreme style cost his family more than any family should have to bear.
I shiver to think that my students (I teach high school English) are infatuated with and amazed by his rash, selfish, idealistic and childish acts. I fully expect there to be sad, copycat incidents.
people who say that this man was selfish are right, he was very selfish. to leave a family who loves you, to give up up your faith and live for no one but yourself, and to practically throw away your life to the mercy of nature is very selfish. he did nothing to help cure cancer, he did not write a book about philosophy, he did not lead a country.
but in his selfishness, he inspired a book that became a national bestseller (thus making an author a secure future) and the book inspired a movie which has won mulitple awards.
ironically his selfishness has inspired hundreds of people to live, has caused hundreds to question their lives in the world. and with the release of this new movie, into the wild, i’m certain yet another wave of youthful travellers will set out to search for themselves.
selfish, yes, but in wake of his overall affect in the world, with his naive actions and ‘stupidity’, he has done more for other people than any average person can boast.
i say he is a hero. he has lived, purely lived within life before he died, and that is more than i could possibly dream of doing.
I think Chris had a beautiful dream.. Obviously it wasn’t perfectly executed, but he had the nerve to want something, and make it his own, no matter what. He was a dreamer, and in some ways, an inspiration to us all. Those who want to point fingers at him, and call him names are just as guilty of being “selfish” and “stupid” in their daily lives. NO ONE IS PERFECT! It was his life to live, and his dream, and kudos to him for living his dream.
“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3. Chris Mccandless’ story struck a deep chord with me. Nobody has the right to judge Chris for what he did. Instead, we should look at how his story applies to our own lives. We all have a little Chris Mccandless in us, we just have to realize it.
I agree with Swishersweet’s one comment in his/her dissertation:
No matter what Christopher McCanless was about, no matter what reasons he had for his trek, his final comment was:
“happiness is only real when shared.”
To me that says it all. This person sought solitude and mental clarity and simple life alone. When he got there, he realized that only through interaction with another human being can life be worthwhile.
I’ve achieved my dreams. My dreams were to work for myself as a consultant by the time I was 28, with a paid off mortgage, been doing that for ten years. Have a successful marriage with a content happy woman, who was good in bed, have kids and work from home never starting earlier than 10am and never needing to answer to a boss or having my mobile phone go off at unpredictable times because they wanted me in a stupid “meeting” or on a “conference call”. Spend plenty of time reading to and playing games with my kids, picking them up from and dropping them off to school. My life is good and I’m happy with things. I expect I’ll be happy for at least another 24 years.
If CMC lived his dream then his dream must have been slowly starving to death and dying alone. Cause that is what happened to him.
why 24 years? Exactly 24 years from now will you be like “oh shit, I’m not happy anymore?” That’s beside the point. You obviously have the emotional capacity of a retard if you cannot see why Chris was happy in following his dream, although it lead to a possibly unnecessary death. You will follow the beaten path and be happy in your own way; good for you. But for others, there is much more out there. Write that down.
Chris died. Northeast appearantly doesn’t get that. Dimitry does. Others do. Many don’t. I think Dimitry’s point was that he didn’t follow a “beaten path”, but that he followed his dream. And his dream, a good dream, includes NOT starving to death.
Nonetheless it has provided the rest of us with interesting entertainment – discourse, books, a movie.
Maybe a few more of you that are empathizing with Chrs could off yourselves in intersting ways. I don’t know maybe sky dive without a parachute, play a friendly game of russian roulette, go for a swim with some crocodiles – use your imagination. The more creativity, the more likely you will be immortalized in print and film. It’s fun for the rest of us.
See this is what Chris did. He said, “I’m going to do something so freakin stupid, that if I survive, the experience will be amazing.”
I imagine standing in front of a wild african elephant would be an amazing experience. You know.. right up until that part where it bores out your insides with its’ tusk.
Sure, I definately get that Chris died in an unnecassary and ill-prepared way. Did you read the book? Jon Krakauer includes a chapter where he describes his journey to climb Devil’s thumb, a very hard solo ascent. From your perspective, “i’m from the northeast”, this may seem completely stupid and irresponsible. I see it as very necessary. Everyone needs to test themselves at least once, to push the limits and find themselves in some way. In my opinion, not doing so is a disservice to oneself. Chris just pushed the limits a little too far. As others have mentioned earlier, he failed to find a balance that would enable him to survive. Jon survived and seems to have lived a complete life. I am not saying everyone needs to go live in the Alaska wilderness for a long period of time, but I can clearly see why Chris did so. I can identify with that need, as can many others, becasue it is a basic human instinct wether we want to realize and accept it or not. The fact that Chris died is pretty insignificant to me when compared to how he chose to live.
I did not mean it in that sense. What I was trying to say is that at least he died happy living life to the fullest. The fact that he died was very significant, it is the reason why we are having this conversation. You just took what I said out of context.
I saw the movie and I remembered something… What Chris had done – this going into the wild – , that is exactly something I imagine(d) to do (only!) if the most precious person in my life would die (I can’t imagine to go on as before in such a case). I imagined to go into the wild, travel the world,…enjoy the nature and solitude…find peace, and come out living or die there, whatever. … interesting… I haven’t thought about that for some time because I am happy and content, no need to go away.
I respect the idea that this man had,but to go back to the wild on this planet one must see that its kill or be killed ,eat or be eaten, and it does not seem like he had that nature. i think in away he killed himself, some how he lost the will…or i would hate to say if he really thought he would live off the land for real, he was not very smart.As he did not look at the land around him to know there was a river crossing very close,and also a major high way.Also to hunt your on food and perseve it would take a great deal of know how, to try to do this with out any real trainning would be like suicide.What ever happend to this man may he rest in peace.
I’m portuguese and I dont speak/write very well (as you can see)
Yesterday, I’ve ended the reading of the book and saw the film.
I cant imagine the biggeness of american territory. My country is very small when compared.
I understand that one can feel the apeal of the big spaces and wilderness.
Who am I to judge anyone who pursuited a goal like Chris did?
I think he wasnt stupid or admirable.
I think he was unlucky.
If he was able to came back and cross that river, he probably will be admired for is adventures in the wild.
Who can say what he will do after the return? Its’s logical to think that he return to his family or to one of the places he stayed in that two years travel.
There’s much people like him that, after a similar experience, get married and had a job and a carrer.
He was unluck, thats all.
what a majority of people on this site are not taking into consideration is the fact that we are essentially not living for other people, we are living for ourselves. you are the only person that you can truly depend on in life and if your day to day life is not making you happy, then you should do whatever it is that you feel will make you happy. granted, for most people it would not be as extreme as doing what McCandless did, but that is what he felt necessary to do to make him happy and feel a sense of fulfillment.
so, before judging Chris, think about if you felt such a strong urge to do what you thought was right your whole life, but had to ignore it because it was not accepted. Think about what you would do to in that situation. the ones who have the guts would do it, the cowards would stand back and call us idiots.
I have read the book Into the Wild twice, and I found it very appealing, very real and worth reading. I saw the movie as well. There’s something great about traveling that I think Chris found in his travels. Whether he was compassionate or not, stupid or just mislead from the books he read, life is adventurous. I think now that we’re in the 21st century we have forgotten this adventurous spirit in us. And McCandless just reminded me, (and us who are into nature, traveling, and challenges) that we can do things we love. If McCandless was not smart by not taking enough supplies into the wild, or just wasn’t nice enough to his family after he left…. all that doesn’t matter. All of us have pasts, and all of us have flaws as he did. *So he didn’t do it the way you would of liked to do it*. Remember Judging is not the way, but it is the way he lived freedom that one should note.
Chris knew what he wanted to do with his life and he did it, for this he should be admired. How many of us are really living our lives, without regret? I will be pleased if my son lives his life with that kind of passion, for any thing! Don’t admire him for the mythical character his death has made him, look at how he lived.
I never knew chris mccandless so I can only speculate on his predicament and the way it has been endorsed and exploited by others. it seems he was overcome with a desire and set his body into a desired place accordingly; a self oriented sojourn that ended with a reluctant death. I cannot honestly call him a fool or a hero, but just a young man who attempted to walk away from civilization (it may or may not be relevant that he took a civilized tool with him or that he lived and died in an abandoned vehicle). I am unsure exactly what he did that was socially significant, but obviously people have looked to the aftermath of his behavior and found significance there. the writer whose novel popularized chris and his fate created a legend and yet I see more of an interesting anthropological story than I do a messianic epic in what impartial facts exist. but provocative points do stem from the glorification of this man’s struggle. the fact that society is not a human invention or contrivance but a natural aspect of our species yet the equal fact that certain individuals find a need or desire to challenge or escape the boundaries of a domesticated world. this type of behavior may seem heroic but in essence I think it is the self searching for meaning. words like selfish can be applied as these behaviors can hurt others (like say family) but this is not to say that the individual feels that he has a choice in his actions.
I have a strong connection to atmospheres in the natural world. since early childhood I have felt moments of a kind of calming bliss which have given me more positive validation in my existence than anything else I have experienced. if I were to be starving I would fight and kill to eat, not simply to survive, but so that I could maintain the balance required to experience this bliss. but I see masses that do not reflect my own experiences and who in fact seem to mock them indirectly with every turn. I see group logic as infecting banal and boorish. I see bumper sticker philosophies and hear tape loops chanting popular science and popular nihilism and not a voice among them seems to be unique. all temporal sheep of one kind or another, either slavishly following or slavishly commanding. rulers and followers all together slaves and sheep. conditioned realities and conditioned dreams. if I cry out at this or if I abandon it all am I being heroic or selfish or hypocritical or naïve? I would say that none of these terms apply. Rather I would suggest that I am simply one whose chemistry is such that I am driven, possibly against reason and respect, toward an individualistic end.
what I see in this man, chris mccandless, much maligned and glorified here is simply another individual in a world of individuals who sought something out and died in his search. maybe less time and energy should be applied to whether he was a fool and or a hero and to condemning or debating with people who don’t share one’s personal preference than should be spent discussing the issues of the individual and the social that this man’s predicament seem to call into relevance. or better yet, if possible, turn off the machines and take a walk outside. sometimes the trees have much more profound things to say than people.
Conquering fear is the greatest feeling in the world. How hard is it to tell a girl you like her, or stand up to your boss, fight it out with someone you know to be wrong or to simply go against the grain in a normal everyday circumstance.
Chris found strength and conquered his fears. He made a decision, even if it was a bit fool hearty.
Can I do this? Can I prove this to myself? Am I man enough?
Who am I really? What is my purpose?
We must find strength and meaning and noone can tell you where to find this. It doesn’t seem Chris was trying to prove anything to anyone other than himself. Impressive.
To become a man, a boy must venture out and kill a lion. It is this act that propells him to manhood. Where is this act in our society? Who determines when we are men?
Chris had to do something to become the man he wanted to be. It was his choice and his mission. We are lucky to be able to scrutinize such a mission to perhaps better find ourselves.
Leave it at that people. God Bless the journey and hope all of us find meaning and strength enough to become the person we want to be~
You don’t have to get so pissed. I like the dude too BECAUSE OF HIS TRAGIC FLAWS (which we all know are part of every hero/protagonist’s skill set) but can’t you see how stupid and inconsiderate of the forces of nature his planning (or lack thereof) was. Just because an amazing writer has put his morbid journey of self loathing into beautiful prose does not make what he did anymore glorified. He has been romanticized to be a man who saw beauty everywhere he looked because of his ability to quote at will much more enlightened men, but I know from life experience that surrounding beauty cannot be truly experienced and appreciated unless an inner peace resulting from the love of the true self has been apprehended by the intellect and more importantly the heart of a man. The titans of literature whom he often quoted were men of that caliber, but his shallow ejaculations of there convictions were nothing more than the failing dogma of his own misguided religion. He didn’t hate society as much as he claimed as was betrayed by his dying message to us. He hated and misunderstood himself and that is why he is dead. Make no mistake Chris J. McCandless was not enlightened in himself or by his experiences. If anything he was blind to their implications. In fact, his dying revelation was only profound from his own perspective due to the hurt and perversion of love he had to endure at the hands of his family as a young boy. I feel bad for him. His final epiphany was “shared happiness is the only true happiness”. I have been intuitively aware of this from birth. It is sad that what I would consider to be a basic truth, encoded in my very being, was that young man’s ultimate life realization. He was just another Timothy Treadwell. He thought he was a deeply misunderstood individual but what was he really? He was an individual who deeply misunderstood himself and his relation to the universe which surrounded him. He had no respect for nature and the wild for what it is but instead animated it with characteristics which he wished and fantasized it to have; a fatal mistake when dealing with the Mother Goddess. Furthermore he showed a lack of appreciation for human relationships, rejecting amazing chances for meaningful connections with people (who are our closest representation of the divine). I think his rejection of others stemmed from a basic fear either of his own rejection or more likely of the ties and responsibilities which human relationships and friendship impose. Not surprising, if you assume he was either consciously or subconsciously aware that he was to eventually push himself to the point of death. I see him as a boy who was subjected by outside forces of putrification in his own soul and couldn’t find the power within himself to overcome that rot until confronted with the desperation of his final moment in this life. I just hope, for his sake, that he worked all that bad Karma out before gasping that last breath so that next time around he can progress into putting his efforts towards something fresh. Transient existence is not a race and so long as he achieved something, however small, his soul and therefore our soul, the soul of the universe isn’t the worst for it. In short Kristina, I too feel the need to defend the underdog, but I have to say that Chris was only the underdog in his own evaluation of self and therefore needs no defending from you, so please don’t be so hard on everyone for pointing out the obvious flaws of his fallacies, however callous their observations may seem to you. After all, when is the last time YOU got of YOUR ass and did something truly profound? We all eventually do what has to be done for ourselves. That is the nature of reincarnation. Like I said previously it is not a race and in their defense, material is a necessity for physical existence and although erroneous, the materialistic attitude which follows is only natural for most people. Furthermore, there is nothing beautiful about dying without experiencing love and if it takes gasping your dying breath to see this then that only makes your death more tragic. Be inspired, just please don’t hero worship Chris McCandless for what he did. He did what he had to do for himself but it would be a shallow exercise in futility for the majority of us.
CHRIS SAW HOW SAD AND SICK AMERICAN SOCIETY TRULY IS, HE HAD THE WANDERLUST IN HIS HEART AND HAD TO CHASE HIS DREAM. THE SUBURBS BECAME THE CAGE OF HIS SOUL.HE WAS LIVING, WHILE MOST IN THIS WORLD ARE MERELY SLEEPING, UNCONCIOUS OF THE WORLD AROUND THEM THAT SO NEEDS TO BE EXPLORED AND APPRECIATED BY MORE PEOPLE. HE DIDNT WANNA LIVE LIKE MOST OF YOU, LIVING HOW TV TELLS THEM TO. WORK, BUY SHIT YOU DONT NEED, HOME, TV , SHIT, EAT , DIE.
YES, HE WAS YOUNG AND NAIVE IN THINKING HE COULD TAKE ON NATURE, BUT ATLEAST HE TRIED TO DO SOMETHING THAT HE WANTED, NOT WHAT OTHEES WANTED TO DICATATE HIS LIFE TO BE. IM A 20 YEAR OLD FEMALE, THIS SUMMER I WENT TO AFRICA WITH A BACKPACK AND 500$. IM JUST LUCKY I SURVIVED MY DREAM… CHRIS’S DREAM IMPACTED MORE PEOPLE THAN HE’LL EVER KNOW… TO WAKE UP AND LIVE!!!!!!!!
that’s the point:he could have gone to that bloody KFC anytime, if he really wanted to…he arrived to Alaska because he wanted to….i think he just thought that THAT wouldn’t be part of his real journey…
There isn’t anything wrong with embracing nature or living a unique life outside of society. Being fed up myself regarding the selfish, materialistic, plastic society of today, I can understand why a person would choose to live his life on his own terms and by his own rules. Except that it is extremely naive and misguided to deny the fact that Mother Nature has very harsh rules herself. Your own body has deep physiological needs that must be obeyed. I am all for congratulating anyone who has the courage to live their own life in the way they see fit. I applaud them. But to glorify and romanticize a slow suicide is something I just cannot do. Too much freedom can be a noose. Christopher was a man lost. Nobody wants to die alone in a filthy bus of starvation. Sad pointless and totally preventable.
it wasnt that he hurt so he ran from the world, which is clearly shown by his personality and the people who knew him, it wasnt that he wanted to be remembered or revered for being some all knowing idealist, he fucking did what he wanted . if any of you have ever been out in nature, such as a nice walk through the woods in the summer and looked around at everything, all the beauty and amazing complexities of nature that work exactly how they must to live, or even the non livivng things like a rock smoothed by water, or even the soil which is the product of the entire earths life span and all the creatures until now you would see why he did what he did, because he wanted to, his loving sister didnt own him, he didnt owe anything to his mother or father, yeah they were hurt by his dissapearance and death, but they dont own him, if your family is upset by you doing what you want then they, not you are the selfish ones, and even that wasn shown by krakauer, saying that his sister knew he was doing what he wanted and that made her happy. so fuck everyone who thinks he was selfish or foolish. oh, and also, he may have not been well prepared for alaska, but it wasnt like it was the middle of winter, it was possible to survive and if he was going to survive im sure he would have researched more and learned what he needed to in order not to die, but he was there for the simple fact of living and doing new things that he felt he wanted to, and part of that was surviving knowing what he knew, and that my friends is an amazing thing and i feel if more people saw this the woorld would be a much happier place instead of a place where people like chris are condemned for doing what makes them happy :)
This comment came to me by email. I reprint it here with permission. NVB.
I have recently seen the Movie ‘Into the Wild’. I was extremely moved with this movie. Here was a young man who yearned for something far more in life than what our present society offers. He was on a spiritual search, to find his inner true nature and Self, and he wasn’t content to live with less than that. History is full of courageuos souls who walked the same path. Read the lives of the Saints, and you quickly realise that in the modern world some of them would have been locked up as insane, simply because they didn’t accept and couldn’t adhere to the materialism and shallowness of their day. They were on the same journey as Chris.
My own son at the age of 25, and struggling with ill health since adolescence, left his home and his loved and loving family to go and live in a small tent in a county area with few clothes and utensils. He wanted to grow self reliant, to be independent and learn to do for himself . He worked nearby at local wineries, until his failing health forced him onto a disability pension. My son Rod, like Chris spurned the materialism and hollowness of much of our modern lifestyle. He like Chris was searching for his true nature and Self. He questioned why did not our western civilisation know or understand the importance of the ancient rites of initiation into manhood, why did not our youth have strong male role models to follow and why were they left to flounder in a materialistic society with numerous pitfalls for our youth to fall into.
He finally moved to a semi remote rural area 3 hours drive from his family. His shattered nervous system could no longer cope with the noise, and pollution of suburban living. Here he found rental accomodation by the ocean, where he strove to try and recover his health, care for himself, establish a garden, grow organic vegies, do a little bartering, and reach out to others a friendly helping hand. This was Rod’s walk. Chris did what he felt compelled to do. They both had a higher vision, mostly not often understood by those who are satisfied with the status quo.
Rod’s life also ended in death. For five years he bravely and courageuosly struggled to do his best with family support. On his request, I moved in with him to care for him for his last year. During that year he wrote a book of his life, his struggles, his thoughts and feelings on society etc,which we his family have also published to try and fulfil Rod’s hope that it would somehow make a difference in the world. When Rod’s health deteriorated to the point where he could not live a fulfilling and productive life, without being dependent on me, he tragically, bravely and courageously ended his life.
We his family loved him, tried to understand his journey, and love him still. We know that he made the best decision he could make for himself. He took responsibility for his own life and death and on his own terms.
This is what Chris McCandless did, he followed his heart, made the decisions he felt the best for him, and at least decided his own destiny, No one took his life from him, he was his own man. People may judge him foolish, but I say we need more men like him. In a time when people are losing their lives every day to drugs and alcohol, give us men like Chris, adventurous, brave, independent and daring.
Those willing to accept the consequences for their own actions, those who like Chris can raise up a role model to those youth ready and ripe to fall into the drug/alcohol trap, and often to die an inglorious death.
Chris McCandless I salute you, and I honour you, as I also do your wonderful family who have made this story available. Thank you.
My comment about chris : “Man…you gave a lot of thought to every body….from negative to positive”…
But one think I learned from you : “you just teach us that “Life is Happy only when it shared”…..That’s we human all about…..connected each other, know each other, and respect each other”……who ever you are : Black, white, Asia, Africa, muslim, christ, budha, hindu…….”……you’ll happy only when you shared.
I read a couple of the posts but honestly there was just too many to go through them all. For one, I don’t think that his journey should be held in such a high account OR such a low account. He did what he did because he wanted to. It isn’t heroic to step outside and go live in the wild. It is, however, inspiring to me that people want something and go after (whatever it is) instead of conforming to the standards of today. Who are we to say whether he did it for the wrong or right reasons? You truly never know someone or their motivations unless you live their life. I do think that he should have had a map or some sort of back up plan. He had no plan B and that was just a lapse of judgment or plain ignorance.
To those of you who are from Alaska I understand why you dislike this whole thing being idolized but I don’t think you should have a hate for him in particular. It is not his fault people interpret his journey for something that it could or could not have stood for. After all, I think that his journey was something very personal to him and I am unsure if he would even like all the hype surrounding it. I also feel (not that I know) that those of you that live in Alaska, however proud you are, need to understand that many of us DON’T grow up in such a beautiful place. Step outside your own shoes for a second and think about living in the lower 48. Why shouldn’t we want to come to Alaska?
The last thing I’m going to say is that I live in Chris’ hometown and I think that a lot of you don’t know what it’s like to live here. This is the second richest county in the nation and it feels trapping a lot of the time. Everyone that lives here is constantly money-hungry and in full rush mode. It really wares you down some times. It isn’t like the suburbs of LA or NY or any other city. Here, in the suburbs of DC there is one type of job mainly and that is the government. We don’t have most “scenes” that other cities do … here 75% of people don’t know what their parents do for a living or can’t talk about it because it’s government related. It’s a really different atmosphere here and I believe personally that it’s this atmosphere that made him want to break away. It’s not that hard to imagine.
Anyway .. it’s just my two cents. It is what it is, he did what he did. Let the guy rest in peace.
This glowing magnetic energy that eminated from Chris seemed to spark everyone that crossed paths with him and left those lucky folks with a light that will flicker on and never dim. Some of us are lucky enough to have also crossed paths with that light in its varying intensities. Another of my friends has once again died on a motorcycle, and again I can only say “he died doing what he loved most’ Riding free, in the wind! He too knew the risks. It seems that Chris absolutely loved his journey as Alexander Supertramp. Who am I to say he was selfish? Be he the Hero or the Villian ? Who are we to judge? To some, his exploits unimaginable, others can only dream. He battled with his demons, nature, and in the end had to accept what he could not control. He lived, he wandered, he led an unaccountably full albeit short life. To me he seems to have had a fuller life than some 65 year olds I know. Maybe Chris wasn’t all that comfortable being a terrestrial being. Driven by that wanderlust that I am compelled by causes one to have nature as thy mother and hope that my father is an owl. Hitting the road and saying to myself “I have nothing to lose but my life!” I cannot say his actions were ignorant. His distractions we will never understand. It was his truth, his life. To some it may be raw. To him it might have been peace. He did HIS own thing. A beautiful light in its extreme.
Another young man in search of his dream is Claude Dallas. That tale also has tragedy. It too tells of that desire to live off the land. A boys dream to be a cowboy.
“Give a boy a gun”
Chris is like alaska, untameable. Nobody can truly understand why he did what he did.
He did something that inspired many people to do what you really want to do.
If you want something in life reach out and grab it. joy of life comes from that sentence.
OK man. Why does it bother you so much that he died? If it makes you lose your temper for some strange reason, then just forget about it I guess. I think it’s pretty cool that he tried to survive on his own for a summer. He knew the consequences of failure, but he tried it anyway. It’s tragic that he died, but that’s just part of life. I just cannot understand why people have such rage toward the guy! Do you get angry when someone dies from a heart attack because they were obese their whole life? Surely not. How about a high school football player that dies from overexertion or a bad hit? “He shouldn’t have taken that risk” is what I can hear you say. No one’s saying you have to feel sorry for Chris. But surely you can just let it go without becoming enraged at some kid that died while pursuing a dream. If this is human nature, then I’m embarrassed to be a member of this species…
I think everyone has the right to do stupid things like smoke, drink, gorge out, and all that stuff you mentioned.
Including Chris, but most of your examples aren’t comparable.
Some of the things you said dont work for the point you’re trying to make.
For example if one chooses to ski, take a flight, speed on the highway, change a light bulb on a step latter most likely they will walk away from the event with their life. The chances are very much in your favor. Thus participating in such activities are not stupid.
The same can not be said for someone who treks into Alaska woefully unprepared.
Its a safe bet that you aren’t coming out alive.
Thats the difference. It dosen’t anger me that he did what he did. Im just sayin call it what it was.
Some of you people are on this guys jock. Lets look at the reality. He turned his back on his family, in favor of living like a hobo. Then he followed his dream to Alaska and died. Just so I’m making my self clear I dont have a problem with any of that. To each his own. What blows my mind is that everyone adds all these positive traits to this guy like hes some kind of hero. Im not sayin he was worthless, just he was no better no worse then then the rest of us. Not worthy of admiration. Just a normal guy thats a little stupider then the rest.
He didn’t go to Alaska, he entered the realm of myth. And it took him.
And he may have been unprepared for that. But ultimtely it seems like he accepted it. It was his doing, he seemed to understand that. He went where people don’t go.
The myth place is The Wild. He wanted to enter The Wild. You can call it by other names, too.
If you don’t believe in that, then, naturally, you’ll see it as a bunch of BS. And in this society, as opposed to many native societies, you’re probably right.
If you do believe in that, then you see this as a different kind of story.
I live in the northern woods, though not as severe a place as the woods he entered. And sometimes when I’m in it, it’s the woods, and sometimes when I’m in it, it’s not just the woods.
If you haven’t experienced that, you’ve got your head on your shoulders good and square, and you probably never will, so this will all seem dumb. Again, you’re right on your terms, and no argument here to try to convince you to experience it in any other way.
We all have different experiences and relate to others, and our inner selves in personally unique ways. We all see the world differently, too.
I am interested in this story and this person because I believe he wasn’t just trying to rough it in a hard place. I think he was trying to go someplace we don’t (and he didn’t) understand, and that’s a frightening and brave thing to do.
When you go there, you tend to take nothing with you. I think that’s the evidence it was his inner intent. That’s why he took so little. I don’t think he was stupid. I think not knowing was purposeful.
I think he knew the likely result, too, before he went. He wrote about it that way, made his goodbyes without explaining much. You can’t take others there. Not friends, not family. Do you want them worrying you won’t come back, when you are deliberately setting out to very likely, not come back?
It’s a disturbing story. I wish it hadn’t happened. Yet I cannot dismiss it, or him. And I believe there is something important in it. Now. In this world.
There are worse things than death. Life without life.
first of all look at how many of us are here judging him and what he did…. if it wasnt for the movie most of us probably wouldnt know anything about him, none of us knew him so why judge him… for all we know the things we do know about him might be only like 2% true. he didnt like his life and wanted to learn more about himself so he went on a journey to try and find something better for himself.. and from what i have learned about him he got what he wanted. he ended up dead but im sure if he was alive he would tell u how much he doesnt regret anything he did
and judging by the movie (i am also going to read the book soon) i dont think what he did was wrong or he did it in spite of his parents. he was grown, his parents relationship wasnt going anywhere, his sister was old enough.. so why is it wrong that he wanted to get away from a world that he did not enjoy. he had a dream to go to alaska and he did that, im sure he wasnt expecting to die. im sure everyone that saw the movie enjoyed it so thank him for that, dont judge him. the only reason i would call him stupid is because he had a loving sister who he left behind and he just graduated from college and couldve done something with his life instead of hurting people, but i praise him for being so brave.
This is not for anyone to say. What did or did not motivate this man. Maybe he chose to have no map, or training. Maybe he did not want to die, but at the same time was o.k. with nature claiming him. Its to easy for the experienced outdoorsman like myself to get all riled up about what could have been. We will never no. And thats the beauty of it. Thats what drives us. Chris was a fellow human that I would have been honored to have had as a friend. His family loves him dearly. And he loved
This morning I finished reading the book Into the Wild. Being a mother of two, my heart goes out to Chris’ mother, Billie. I had to close the book and walk away when I read how she visited the bus and was first to enter and was sitting on the mattress where her son died. My heart broke for her. I remember holding my babies in my arms for the first time. And I am sure that thought crossed her mind at that moment.But no one has the right to judge any person for what they may or may have not done with the life that was given to them. As a mother I hold my children to no unspoken debt to pay to myself, their father, or to society in a whole. They did not ask to be born. When life is given to a creature it is theirs. I don’t think I was sad for Billie because she felt as if he had abandoned them. But rather that I would have been proud to be his mother and that I would hope he found whatever it is he was looking for. We all look for something in life. Very few of us even can place a finger on whatever it is we are searching for………but Chris had the guts to try. He had a very short, but a very pure, bold life and obviously left many in his wake that are in awe of him. Those that critisize him may only be envious of his journey. My goal for my own life is to be as honest and pure. I chose to have the responsibility of a parent and a wife.So I must put the emotional and physical needs of my family ahead of my own, But in no way do I consider Alex’s choices to be selfish . Our journeys are all different. We can waste time trying to pick apart why he didn’t do certain things that would have made it easier or ensured his survival, but that was who he was. Beautiful, amazing, raw. We need to focus on our own lives and make sure that we are just as true to ourselves as he was. He never put any other lives at risk and he had a true respect for life itself. Hence the moose….I am not surprized that he chose to die naturally. That may have been his last journey. To embrace nature even as it embraced him in death. I will remember this book for a long time to come. My heart goes out to his family……….I am sure that he loved them very much. He may have harbored dissapointment for his father only because he loved him and admired him so very much to start out with. We all have our dissapointments….some hurt more than others. Hopefully as the younger generations grow older they will start to see paternal and maternal figures as human beings capable of mistakes also and learn to forgive. Forgiveness and respect for young and old. God, you would think I have laundry to do or something. Sorry for babbling on and on.
It was a very brave and inspirational thing that Chris did. He went for his dream and not very many people do that. I wish i could have the balls to go out and sleep on dirt everynight and hitchhike all the way to a far away place. Thank you Chris. He made me realize that its not all about money and a good home and family. You don’t need any of those things in order to be happy. Follow your dreams and your heart. You may not have another chance. Go WILD!!!!
I LOVE CHRISTOPHER McCANDLESS!!!!
Chris did a very brave and inspirational thing. He went out there and followed his dreams. He slept on dirt and hitchhiked all the way to a far away place. He made me realize that you don’t need money, a good home or family to be happy.
I LOVE CHRIS McCANDLESS
Michael B. (I am sure we know what the B stands for) Your smug, lackadaisical, contemptuously impertinent attitude sickens me. Please do not confuse odium towards you & your delusory obiter dictum for “becoming enraged”.
Chris was a myopic errant. He hadn’t the mental nor physical means to undertake this peregrination.
His inadvertent pullulating erroneous decision culling indubitably points to the fact that he: Lacked the mental ability to perceive or distinguish ANY realistic far-sighted working plan.
The cogitation that this escapes you racks my mind.
Chris strikes me as a profound innately un-witted, inept fool.
From reading your posts’ alone, one would envisage a man who is unmatched, unparalleled, & unsurpassed in perspicacity and acumen. The above language is indicative that Chris’ idiocy and illogicality is deserving of prodigious plaudits. You speak as though he was both stalwart & venerable.
Sad yet true, your encomium in the form of the above compendium of Chris M., Is the summation of monotonous talk filled with platitudes; rendering both trite & banal statements.
Chris was an irrationally adventuring, nonsensical excursionist. He was not prodigious in luminosity, and charisma. He is the inverse antonym, invariably teeming with faux pas, obliquity, & temerarious actions.
His multitudinous erroneous blunders are an atrocity!
How he managed to survive to the point of adulthood baffles me; yet, reminds me that one (Chris M.) does have the ability to physically mature whilst remaining a mental infant.
As a person who lives in Alaska because I couldn’t live anywhere else, I loved the movie and his quest. I don’t understand the hate for him, but it does illustrate one of the societal traits he despised. Being an Alaskan, an outdoorsman, and someone who travels many hundreds of miles a week, in the middle of nowhere, when I saw him go into the wild, I was amazed at how unprepared he was. Alaska if a very, very unforgiving place and I think he was completely oblivious of that fact. It was good that he waited until spring to come here or he would have died much sooner, as temperatures in that area can hover around -50F for weeks on in, in winter.
I think he did a great job at surviving as long as he did, but ultimately, reality showed up and he paid the ultimate price. If he didn’t die from poisoning himself, he still might have died from starvation due to being trapped and the lack of food in the area. I am not judging him only coming to conclusions with the info offered.
As for his quest, when I watched the movie, I can totally identify with what he was doing and his quest. I’m not going to get into if he was right or wrong, smart or ignorant. His trek was an amazing one, and what he experienced, most people will never experience in a much longer life, and that speaks volumes into what he was able to do. Seriously, how many could just burn/donate all of your money and just wing it with no real plan, other than a plan to get to a certain destination. He probably learned more about himself than 99% of people on this planet will ever know about themselves. Look at all of the talk about his quest and you will see, in his death, he has taught many people about the good and bad in certain ideals and man’s never ending search for the truth. Brave or naive he took life by the balls and said, “give me your best shot”. Ultimately, he died, but in all actuality, he realized the dream he chased so hard, for so long, and who knows, maybe he died the happiest he had ever been? Maybe his entire quest was the ultimate escape, to actually become part of, one with, nature. He was successful in that endeavor.
As for myself, I have been all over Alaska, and to locations 99% of Alaskans have and will never see. I worked from Anchorage to Fairbanks to the Bering Sea, on the frozen ocean. I worked in mobile camps which traveled from Fairbanks to the Bering Sea over the course of winter, and let me tell you, it was an amazing experience. I’ve been in the middle of fifty moose, dall sheep, polar bears, hundreds of bald eagles, wolverines, wolves, caribou, Mt McKinley, 100′s of other mountains, streams, rivers, vistas, etc., and I can tell you, Alaska is all it seems and more. It is a place for a true adventurer and adventurers who love nature should all make time to experience. I can’t express my love for Alaska enough and the pure, unbridled beauty that it possess. Chris McCandless’ realized this dream of finding the epitome of going “into the wild”.
My recommendation would be to do the same, if that is your quest, but if you decide to do it, you must be prepared, you must be equipped, and you must stay in touch with people in case something bad happens. learn all you can about where you’re going a formulate a plan. A GPS is a true life saver in Alaska as it is very easy to get lost in the wild. This goes for those who are even casual travelers.
In closing I was touched by Chris McCandless’ story and his travels. I am not going to judge him on his personal issues because they are his own and we only know what others have said, and not his own thinking behind it all. Let his travels be a lesson those who are thinking about doing the same. His legacy is one of having the ultimate adventure and paying the ultimate price for being unprepared. His outcome can save lives, in my opinion, so that’s turning a positive into a negative. He will make you think and be more careful, and for that, I thank him.
P.S. After all of my travels in Alaska and my love of nature I have become a serious nature photographer. If any of you want to see some of what you’ can experience in Alaska, check out my photos at http://www.flickr.com/amalgamutt
Good luck to all who strive to learn more about themselves
Gino, really terrific photos. I call myself a nature and wildlife photographer some days, but I don’t have many shots like that. If you’re ever interested in sharing some secrets, or advising on lenses, drop me a line.
Call him mad, call him an extremist, label him with some commerical brand that exagerates and clouds Christopher McCandless’ true intentions. Read it, watch it, there is method in his “madness”, and therefore it is not madness. Remember the man and what he did, remember his motives, and not these false accusations of insanity, incompetence, it is not who Chris McCandless was.
A man who lived his life the way he wanted to. He freed himself from the ties that bind him and lived his life the way he wanted happy, free and in the moment.
He didn’t want a map he didn’t want a watch he made his own choices, choices that cannot be deemed right or wrong becuase they are his, as soon as they are judged it becomes about the man who judges him and not about the human being and beautiful spirit that was McCandless.
a man who felt his own real truth in life, and found his own meaning.
His search for meaning and adventure could have cost other people their lives. While not in Alaska, I’ve been involved in Search and Rescue in the local mountains where I live and people that go hiking or camping or skiing out of bounds while unprepared could ultimately cost the lives of the people who end up getting tapped to save them. And then there’s the taxpayer cost to a rescue. The kid was likely bipolar and narcissistic.
And Into The Wild has disputed facts regarding Chris McCandless’ death, just as Into Thin Air has other people who were involved in that ill fated summitting of Mt. Everest disputing the events as portrayed by Mr. Krakauer. It seems he may not like the truth getting in the way of a good story.
Watching “Into the wild” made feel incredibly sad, and is also the first movie in a long time that had me thinking about it days afterwards. It touched me so much because I too often think about the things that Chris did before he started on his journey, and so I felt a connection with the story in that way. However, the fact that someone so young and full of potential threw their life away not because of an ideal, but a lack of being prepared, is just something I can’t wrap my head around. The picture of Chris by the 142 bus is haunting. It’s truly a tragedy that he did not live to teach the lessons he’s taught so many in death.
I just watched the movie.
I am 45 years old and have a 15 year old boy.
The mother of the boy left him and me when he was six.
All I can say is McCandless was unprepared for the violence
of Nature. He gambled and he eventually lost.
The one thing that scares me about this film would be
other impressionable boys (for sure mine isn’t) watching
it might get some whacked out rebellious ideas and try
to emulate his lifestyle. Especially ones who are having
problems at home.
That ..would be a big mistake.
Kids with their heads screwed on straight would not have
a problem with this movie..ones who don’t I fear for.
He seems like he was a good soul but even good souls
can die a violent lonely death, especially if they don’t make
preparations and use caution in risky situations.
C’est la vie.
Chris was a brave person that acted selfishly. Life is sometimes to short to worry about others.. he fulfilled his dream, and apparently “had a happy life”. What more can a human ask for? He enjoyed the one life he had, i envy how he felt over those two years, and what he accomplished; however, i do not envy what he did. He left his family out to dry. Contradicting myself, i would like to say he was selfish but did what he had to do to enjoy his life, to do it how HE wanted. Who cares what others want.. HIS WAY.
In my opinion I would have to say that regardless of what anyone else claims Chris was a hero. The type of hero that makes everyone feel a little more alive, the type that makes you realize how much more there is to life than what we’re all used to seeing. He chose his path, be it alone, it was his life. And reading all the posts from the experienced hikers….to the parents and the people saying how selfish he acted. Just remember one thing, He impacted all our lives and taught all of us a valuable thing. Maybe its to be a better parent, to be a more prepared hiker, to be more adventurous or to see that life has so much more to offer us. But, I must say take YOUR lesson for what its worth, I only wish I had as much courage as he did to follow all of my dreams.
Some points I agree with Bryan and some I don’t.
A hero…no….terry fox is a hero.
Makes everyone feel more alive..yes.
Makes you realize how much more there is too life..yes.
I would not call him selfish.
His own actions did himself in..nobody else.
It was his business.
Only impact he had on my life were the postings I have been making here.
For a kid who was afraid to swim, hiking in the wilds and
taking kayak trips down rapids…you really have to think
this kid had nine lives, and his luck finally ran out.
Some people theorize it wasn’t the poison plant that killed him rather his inability to hunt solid game and sustain
His inability to get across the raging river that had swollen
was also an issue. I can’t believe that was the only crossing. He should have went along the shore of it till he
saw a crossing but I never saw a topographical map of the place. To die alone like he did and how he did on that bus
wasn’t pleasant for him. I bet you he was cursing and regretting he had put himself in that position at that time.
But we’ll never know and based on the legibility of the notes
he left behind, those notes were made while he was still
mobile and not close to the end where he could barely
I don’t feel like Christopher’s idea was an altogether bad one. Spending some time in the woods, alone, living off the land…it’s something everybody should try, just one. But he went about it in the dumbest way possible. No map? Little supplies? What was he trying to prove? I honestly think that he went out to those woods with the intention of NEVER reentering society, even if it meant dying. Yes, he did make a couple of attempts to go back, but subconsciously, he was absolutely done with this world. It’s very tragic, but at the same time, he WAS a grown (if misguided) man who made a choice.
I think what Chris did started out as being insightful. He wanted to get away from everything that ruins our country. I think along the way he forgot to love himself and everyone around him. I think he became selfish and lost all site of what he was doing. He made a point to his family, and now they all have to live with the hurt. A very selfish act on his part. He could of lived but he choose not too.
Wow lots of thought here!
Its just 1 life not that big a deal, we are all going to die the only difference is how. That was his way, he did what he needed for himself. No one will ever know what was in his true thoughts, or why he did what he did.
I am sure he would agree with me.
Escape from all judgement, dirty society, that we have created. The masses forcing their views on us, in many forms ,day to day. Government is for cowards. He probably wished he was never born in this shit.
There is no peace for humanity in these times.
Social id numbers, birth certificates passports and all the other stupid numbers we are given.
He realized at a ripe age its all BULLSHIT.
I have just viewed the movie “Into The wild” and really feel that the movie exploits the spirit of individuality and individuation, and emphasizes values on quixotic tendencies far above what should have been a balance of both autonomy with pragmatism in McCandless’s precarious situation.
During the movie I reflected back to 1977 when I began hitchhiking across America and although there was many experiences that were beneficial life lessons, there was much danger in the very nature of what I felt was at the time an adventure.
In my short six years of hitchhiking which included sleeping in a tent, abandoned cars, abandoned houses, the woods,the wilderness, etc. I can say truly that I hope earnestly that no young person watches this movie and decides to imitate it. The highway today is far more dangerous then it was 30 years ago and it was not safe even then. I can not even remember all the situations in which my life was in jeopardy while hitchhiking, but let me point out just a few.
Once I was picked up near California by a man welding a gun, no he didn’t have the gun out when I first got in, but he soon produced it and began ranting about wanting to get even with all the people who had taken advantage of him or who had slighted him. Now I could have been easily shot if this man had decided to take out his frustration on me an easy target, but luckily I was spared.
Plain old Luck or just coincidence or maybe even some special protection from above,(fighting with this one I’m agnostic), spared me on at least six or seven occasions in the course of my six years of hitchhiking. To believe or be under the impression as the movie attempts to assert in so many ways, that hitchhiking and a nomadic existence is brave, daring or the epitome of individualism is dangerously misleading.
On another occasion I was picked up on the East coast by a young couple who had just ingested some LSD, now this became apparent when they crossed the meridian and began traveling on the wrong side of the highway rushing head on against the oncoming traffic at a rather high rate of speed. Yes I lived through the experience, in retrospect I’m amazed I did. Not to mention the creepy perverts, robbers,thieves who attempt to steal your backpack and what little belongings you possess, psychopaths, and the harassment you receive by the state patrol and local police for hitchhiking and quote “being on my highway” as one state patrol officer told me. Of course maybe the police and state patrol understand the dangers and was just trying to save the hitchhikers some grief.
In Florida while hitchhiking someone actually shot at me and I heard the air breaking as a bullet passed closely to my head, very uncanny feeling to say the least. I’m not even going to mention all the other obvious dangers in hitchhiking and a nomadic existence so glorified in this movie, you the reader have the common sense and capacity to figure that one out.
Life is an adventure in itself without enhancing the dangers, too bad Chris McCandless had to find out the hard way with no preparation resulting in his loss of life. Take the advantages you are given in life and avoid the pitfalls if possible, Hollywood is here to entertain not educate.
First of all, piercedangel is a moron. Nuff said there. There was nothing selfish in the slightest over what Christopher McCandless did in fact, it was quite the opposite. What is selfish are the people in our lives who think when their children reach adulthood they still have the final say in whatever path their children choose to take.
He didn’t help anyone but himself? Really now. When was the last time anyone posting on this forum ever wrote out a check and gave every penny they had in the world to charity! Not a damn one of us, that much you can take to the bank.
What he did show us is how life actually was meant to be lived–peacefully, non-intrusive and uncontrolling. He decided to control his own destiny, choosing not to be shackeled by our inclination to live as others feel we should live. That makes people like piercedangel very uncomfortable because deep down they know that they don’t have the guts to do anything without a guarantee.
It would be nice if all the people who say they are concerned about his family’s pain would stop calling their son stupid and selfish. I don’t think it would be easy to read a blog full of public criticism if I lost a family member, no matter what the cause. Outrage is not empathy.
And the argument that others lives could have been lost in some (hypothetical) volunteer rescue attempt should apply those standards to all non-sedentary behavior.
Let’s make all outdoor sports illegal, for a start. Boating, skiing, fishing, hiking, mountain climbing, flying, heck, driving. These could all pose risks to others who might volunteer to help in an emergency. Let’s all stay at home and watch TV. And eat raw food to reduce the risks to fire departments. Surely, we could do that as a responsibility to others.
I doubt there’s ever been a person who died in the entire history of mankind, who didn’t hasten that moment through some choice, preference, lifestyle, inadvertence, or lack of foresight. Or more than one of those. Or a lifetime of it.
If only I’d worn a coat. Made a left turn. Gotten an x-ray. Stopped smoking. Stayed in bed. Ordered the chicken. Had my blood pressure checked. Stayed at that job. Left that job. Taken my pills. Stopped taking pills. Exercised. Slowed down. Stayed awake. Slept. Gone to the hospital. Stayed away from the hospital. Not thrown that stone.
Never been selfish? Always met your goals? Life went the way you wanted it right up to the end? On your way out, will you be afraid, ask anyone, say at a hospital, for help?
How are you any more, or less, admirable than someone else, actually, just like you?
If you’ve got an answer for that with a righteous and perfectly planned life, please do the rest of us a favor and write an autobiography, so we can take lessons from your exemplary behavior and fabulous luck.
Otherwise, we all do the wrong thing, fairly frequently. Especially from the point of view of others.
I really think he found what he was looking for – and it was himself – not Alexander Supertramp, but Chris McClandless. The fact that he died while doing that makes it poetic and ironic – but I really don’t think there are really any larger lessons to be learned from his death. And you know, finding out, I mean really finding out, what it’s all about for yourself -man – if he accomplished that, he’s ahead of most of us.
And I have to say that knowing, even if it’s way back in your mind somewhere, but nonetheless knowing, that you had money, that you had someone to stake you when you get back from your adventure – knowing that, at whatever level, allows you to take some chances you might not otherwise take. Yes, money can make you cautious – if you need it to survive, or more importantly, to help others survive (like your kids or family). But knowing you have it waiting for you, even if you don’t want it, gives one a certain insulation from that caution.
I probably have a jaded view of the whole $ issue as I have seen too many trustfunders out doing good knowing that after they dip their little toe into the underbelly of society they can always return to the comforts and privileges that have given them the freedom to think and act the way they do in the first place.
While i dont have a problem with people making their own choices in life, or choosing their own path. What Chris did was indeed selfish. Mad at you parents or not, running off into the wilderness unprepared to face whats ahead of you only to end up killing yourself is incredibly selfish and narcissistic as well as stupid. He had people in his life who loved him deeply, no matter how flawed they were, they still loved him all the same. I a previous posted stated, his sister. She didnt nothing to him but love him. Why should she suffer because her brother thought he saw something glorious in ditching society? i know as a big brother with a sister only a few years younger then me who adores me, she would be crushed if anything like this happened to me. While its not on the same par as suicide is pretty close. Had chris at least contacted his family, even if was just his sister to let them know he was happy and doing well, just to give them peace of mind. that might have made his adventure something more to appreciate. But since he didnt, and left for utterly selfish reasons. its just another thing for selfish people to romanticize. Running away from society and claiming is some type of “soul searching spiritual adventure” is just another excuse to run away from the pressures of life. Unless of course you left the ones you love know you plans have every intention of returning safely.
Alright, Chris happened to die in Alaska – he could of died during any of his other experiences while he was on the road – he was unprepared for those as well and while he didn’t rely on the kindness of strangers, he certainly took advantage of it. He was out finding himself – that in and of itself isn’t selfish. Sean Penn wants us to think he found what he was looking for, could be, could be not. But the fact that he was seraching isn’t selfish, or at least not to me. To me the litmus test for this is what if he would have made it out, a more complete person, more able to deal with the reality that was his life with his family – would that have made him selfish?
And what makes one selfish, anyway?
I watched the movie again with my 16 year old son last night. I want him to take off after he graduates from high school and go see the country – without mine or his mother’s expectations or constraints. Will I worry? You bet. Am I selfish enough to not want him to find himself? No way. That’s called love. Love is just as much about letting go as holding close. Picture someone you love – forced choice – unhappy and with you or happy and will never see you again? Pick one. Don’t be selfish.
There are probably only a couple of times in our lives when we could actually do what Chris did – no obligations, no family to support – just go.
I can see why Chris’s story brings out such strong emotions in people – there are some very intense, personal, universal themes that can be found there. In the end, though, his story doesn’t belong to his family, or the survivalist Alaskans who didn’t get that he wasn’t trying to conquer the wilderness, but discover it, nor does it belong to the people he met on the road. It belongs to him.
Come on, man. When any of us examine our lives deeply enough, we might have the capacity to go running off in the other direction. He had motive and opportunity, as it were – and he took advantage of it. And he died doing it.
Steve, your the one that needs help!! You don’t even know it. What is the problem, I don’t conform to the rules your parents or society has inplanted in that rice size brain of yours, might as well have your head up in your ass. Sorry I don’t abide with society’s rules. My friends has a donkey ” beast of burden” that grasps life better than you!
Your probably in your late 30′s early 40′S doing what your mommy taught you, and society expect from you, living in your concrete jungle, spend half your time on your PC, the other half watching tv, knowlegde for couch potatoes. With very little theoretical experience. You are living in a box, packed with rules! you are being used every day, you don’t even know it.
Is this what your therapist told you? lets not forget them, they are there for when you go off the track , that leads nowhere! and then help you get back on the train, certainly for monies.
When the Hellenic people (greeks rudely referred to now and days) created society this is not what they had in mind. They
should have known there would be a new breed of people that would corrupt anything possible.
The desire to make others wrong and responsible for the ills of the world always excludes the “I” in the problems of that world. Works on both sides of the fence. Makes the fence. Puts barbed wire on it. Electrifies it. Us and them. Me and you. I and the world.
But the world is made up of all those “I”s. All are equally responsible for it. No one can duck that.
The wild is inside. The frightful things may be projected outward. Or the wild is inside. And that commonality the basis for understanding. I am not other than you.
The term Hellenistic (derived from Ἕλλην Héllēn, the Greeks’ traditional self-described ethnic name) was established by the German historian Johann Gustav Droysen to refer to the spreading of Greek culture and colonization over the non-Greek lands that were conquered by Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC. The Hellenistic age marks the unification of the Greek world, sharing a common culture based on that of 5th and 4th century BC Athens, along with a fusion of Near Eastern cultures. The period is characterized by a new wave of Greek colonization which established Greek cities and Kingdoms in Asia and Africa. Those new cities were composed by Greek colonists who came from different parts of the Greek world, and not from a specific “mother city” (metropolis) as before. The main cultural centers expanded from mainland Greece, to Pergamon, Rhodes, as well as to new Greek colonies such as Antioch and Alexandria. This mixture of Greek-speakers gave birth to a common Attic-based dialect, known as Hellenistic Greek, which came to absorb and replace all idioms of the Greek language.
Here is the question you all have to ask yourself.
How many of you in here would have changed places
with Chris knowing you would die alone on a bus in the
And don’t say “He didn’t know it would end that way”.
Knowing what you know now, and the fact he did die
the way he died……..how many would have traded places
with him the last two years of his life at the age of 23.
If you really defend what Chris defend you have to answer
that you would change place with him.
There’s simply no other way to put it.
Hence..back to the original topic of discussion…”Not Very
Bright” for such an intelligent young man.
I find it’s possible to identify with the feelings and thoughts and lives of other people without having to do exactly what they do, without living their lives. If the only people you can feel for or identify with are exactly like you, and do only exactly what you would do in all circumstances, then you are truly isolated. Because, no one else will ever measure up to your expectations.
Not Very Bright does not refer to Chris McCandless, and is not “the original topic” It’s the nickname of the blog owner, in reaction to anti-feminist remarks. This particular thread is just one of many different topics on this site.
The fact that the nickname Not Very Bright happens to be coincidentally printed on-screen with the Name Chris McCandless in Google lookups causes this blog to rate high in hits, particularly with people inclined to criticize him.
The only thing good about the movie was eddie vedder
and hard sun. They should have had the whole song playing
full bore..and it should have been at the end full bore while
chris was dying looking at the sun.
The moral of that song…”You can’t beat mother nature”.
Chris found that out.
Oh well if you like music, and catchphrases, there are a lot of commercials with snappy music showing people driving SUVs up vertical cliff faces until they reach some tiny pinnacle. Apparently they haven’t heard that old saw, either.
Sells a lot of cars though, even with three dollar gas, an oil war, polar ice melting, maples dying in the north, and New Orleans stomped. Seems like Chris wasn’t trying to beat nature, just survive in it. I’d say he preferred meeting nature on its own terms, rather than through a tinted windshield on or a blueray screen.
I thought it was funny in the book where the hunters drove across the river in 4WDs and put the engine under, claiming that was somehow “sensible” woodsman-like behavior. And then mis-identified the moose he shot as an elk — rather than the reverse.
I saw the movie and I felt I needed to say something about Chris McCandless. A loss of life is a terrible thing and I feel great compassion for Chris and his family. But, there is one part in the movie that, I would say was the moment for me. Chris met this lonely old man named Ron Franz and Mr. Franz asked him “son why are you out here, why aren’t you getting an education?” Chris responded in an almost proud type of way ” I am not destitude, I have a college education. I choose to live this way.” There is almost an arrogance to his statement and it is at that point I knew why Chris lived the way he did. He lived this way due to his privliged life. He lived this way because he knew if things ever got too bad he was just a phone call away from home and the protection of his family. I believe Chris may have panicked when, he finally was really alone in Alaska with no phone and no safety blanket. People respect Chris because he chose to live this way, I think without his upbringing he would not get the cult status. Sean Penn in my opinion believes he shares many chararistics of Chris- that Hollywood and riches have not changed his core. I believe that deep inside Sean Penn believes if he had to he could survive on the toughest of battle grounds. Although many consider these noble traits, there is a due amount of respect to people who live hand to mouth everyday with no saftey net. No matter if it is the dark streets of New York or the icey cold Tundra. I believe people misinterpet Chris’ journey as one of meaning when in actuallity it was probably done for the wrong reasons. He wanted to prove something to his parents, himself the world- he wanted to make a statement. If Chris had followed the rules, told at least his sister about his plans and worked to get the proper training he could have lived in the wild safely and peacefully.
Jim, dude, Chris wasn’t trying to “beat” mother nature anymore than he was trying to “beat” the river or the wheat fields,or anything else in his story. He was just trying to peel back the layers of society and get back to what is real. For him that involved nature. He may have found himself and he may have done it in Alaska – to draw any larger conclusions from his story is to interject your own story with all of its baggage and bias into Chris’s.
Chris went off to find himself in the best way he knew how. Was it flawed? Aren’t we all? He died. Maybe he died while searching, maybe he died after he found what he was looking for. He didn’t ask for his story to be told.
I don’t know what, or even if there exist, larger lessons to be learned from his story. I do know, however, that inserting your own (anyone’s own) necessarily distorted beliefs into the story, marginalizes whatever we might find there, if we really try to understand the story on its own merits.
A few thoughts from Marcus Aurelius
“Anything in any way beautiful derives its beauty from itself and asks nothing beyond itself. Praise is no part of it, for nothing is made worse or better by praise.”
“Because a thing seems difficult for you, do not think it impossible for anyone to accomplish. ”
“Forward, as occasion offers. Never look round to see whether any shall note it… Be satisfied with success in even the smallest matter, and think that even such a result is no trifle. ”
“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one. “
Koman..that’s all fine and dandy what you say.
A philosophical viewpoint and an analysis trying to make
sense and offer some kind of reward for the entire venture
the lad went through for two years.
Bottom line is he died unnecessarily and tragically.
That was the final chapter of his odyssey any way you
cut it. The message after I watched the movie was this…
“To each his own” and the lifestyle Chris engaged in gave
you an idea what it was like to live as a North American Indian before the white man came.
That’s about all it left with me.
For anybody who would want to follow in his footsteps…knowing the risks and dangers involved..forgive me …but you would have to be carrying some psychological problems or have a huge ego.
There are plenty of ways to die in this world without inviting the reaper to your doorstep.
I have no problem with the expressions that Chris was human, sometimes wrong, made mistakes, had his own interests which he put ahead of the interests of others, etc. I have no problem accepting that he didn’t want to die and was desperate for help toward the end.
Of course I wish he didn’t die in that way, that he and his family could have been re-united, etc.
To me none of this frightening story diminishes my admiration for him as a person — to the extent that I know of him — limited as that is.
A true hero is not some kind of comic book superman who vanquishes all evil. A real hero may fail. A real hero may have, as we learned in high school, flaws. This was a true tragedy if ever there was one — it is the struggle of a real person, not some cartoon idealization, with complex and even mysterious issues, close to to heart of what it is to be a person inside or outside of our society.
The tragedy of Chris McCandless doesn’t answer any questions. Good guy doesn’t beat bad guy. Nobody was good or bad. It leaves behind big questions. And in coming to grips with THOSE questions we have a dialog about things fundamental to us as human beings, individual in this world, in this time, in this place.
Wasn’t trying to make any “sense”. I’m just saying that as soon as we begin to apply our own experience and values structure to Chris’s story we stop trying to understand the story on its own merits and begin feeding our own ego and attempting to justify our own sense of what is right and what is wrong.
After hearing about Christopher Johnson McCandless or better known as “Alexander Supertramp” and also viewing the movie it has inspired me to find myself by adventuring on my own. People tell me it’s stupid and a waste of time, but I think to myself theres got to be more out there than say the gratification of a good grade or a promotion. McCandless has helped me see that living within the system or within society is twisted. It is true that people are too afraid to venture out and do what they really want. My dream has always been to get away and just live and Christopher Johnson McCandless has really showed me that…
May he rest in Peace
from a writer and and inspired fan.
What struck me odd is why did he not call his sister.
I traveled with no money or next to none when I was 18/19 and bummed it and met mad cool people and had a hell of a adventure. It does not take a special person to be a bum. Since when is burning your money and putting your life at risk cool?
Have any of you ppl idolizing his antics ever spent a night hungry? Been utterly alone & homeless stuck in your own fucked up head?
What do you admire him for? Being homeless, killing himself, ignoring his loved ones, not trying to get help and rectify his life but running from it?
My dad was 10x worse than Supertramps and I did not deal with it as bad as he.
This movie was great & I enjoyed the story as a young kid when I first heard it years ago.
He was pissed, felt money was the root of all evil, blah, blah, blah. He was this psuedo intellectual kid without a clue as to what it took to live in the real world. He had been sheltered even on the road.
He may of been a great kid, smart, cute, starry eyed dreamer but he was selfish.
Even him telling his friend in SD to return all mail to sender was a selfish act.
He left behind an interesting story but what we saw in this movie was not verbatim. It was a fill in the blanks deal people. His journals were not that in depth.
Do you ppl know that within miles all around his bus there were cabins with emergency supplies to help people like him?
There was more than one.
Also they had been freshly vandalized at the time of his death.
His “hatred” for society no doubt led him to ruin anyone elses chance of survival should they had needed it.
For a person who wanted to rough it in the wild he had no common sense.
Even the biggest vagabounds had street smarts, they knew where to sleep safely, eat, bathe, get medical care, Etc.
OK live in the wild but bring more than rice and a raggedy sleeping bag.
Also he was a jag off cuz he did not think that if the bus got there, there had to be a way out.
How else did it get there? The bus fairy? Santa Clause?
Also where he claims the river was to swollen to cross there was a hand operated tram a few miles downstream for people caught out like him.
He also killed a Moose and watched thousands of pounds of meat rot in front of his middle class selfish eyes.
Why did he not try to cook as much as possible? He could of cooked a lot of it. I’m shocked he did not get killed by the animals feasting on the carcass.
He did not try to prepare himself nor did he use that fancy education (so many ppl are killing themselves to get) to survive.
He threw everything that others would kill for in the worlds face!
He did not have to become a yuppie, he could of traveled and roughed it and still had a life altering experience.
He was selfish and stupid!
He claimed love for his siter and yet he ignored her while hitchiking and quoting others words in a journal.
He was not some hero he was a jack ass who dies ad he lived: Foolish
Chris was not broke when he split you idiots! He burned some cash but do you see how he had to work along the way..Gee, a hypocrite is the word I believe fits him. He claims no need for our dirty money yet he worked hard for it when his ass was stanky and his belly rumbling! A real vagabound did it without working.
For all his gruff he was a simpering fool!
It’s amazing, even in death, dying alone in a place far from others, doing nothing to them, taking nothing from them, strangers in another time will hate you for it. No wonder he shunned the wholesale rage of this society.
Rest in peace, Chris. In some quieter place than this one.
What’s with the insults? I can’t believe that people would insult a dead man. Christopher McCandless had a pure love for life and would stop at nothing to be true to himself. Christopher McCandless didn’t believe in careers and never wanted to live a superficial, boring life like 99% of the world… And I hardly think that working at McDonalds and at a grain elevator for a few weeks makes McCandless a hypocrite. Re-think your lives, please.
One more time, this is not the DamnIWishMyLifeWouldHaveBeenMoreLikeChristopherMcClandess’AndNotSoMuchMineOwnAndThatItWillEndTheSameWayAndThatIHaveNotEvenAPercentOfAPercentOfAPercentOfApercentOfTheLiveLivedThatHeLived thread.
Let’s talk about what happened – in it’s truest form; unburdened from the sensibilities of whatever person IS reading it or seeing it.
Unburdened by anything except looking at what that thing is
In its truest form (thank you, Marcus Aurelius).
And then considering it.
Now look people. I am 38 years old, majored in art but have worked in the dreary cubicle for years and mostly conformed in this little ho-hum box world we have and yet I shed a few tears each year as I watch my dreams fade away; that crushed yearning to do something more that would be my true path, just like most of us do, crushing our spirits little by little yet running the rat race like our parents did with a boring office job while we all know that no matter how much insurance and money we have we can still die at any time and will eventually. I sit more and more in that tired old conformity box, but I hold judgement back on Mr. McCandleless, because by God he at least had the guts to try his passions. His only failing was in being a young man and yes he was underprepared, but aren’t the best of us who try to plan everything perfectly?? Look I’m old enough to know that life hands you problems no matter what you do, so I will not criticize him to make myself feel superior(that’s so petty), but rather relate to this brave and very human young man who reminds us ALL to hold on to some of our passion. Yes you may have to pay the bills, but perhaps you will take that guitar lesson you always wanted, take a weekend adventure hike, surprise your date with a new town to check out, go on that fishing trip you’ve post poned, write that journal you’ve put off. Now let him be people, he did have a purpose, to make us all think and love our lives a little more instead of just living it in our little boxes, which we all know can never be entirely safe, life is risk filled whether we like it or not. We all need to live a little before we die; at least say we tried, took that class we wanted or trip. If you can only criticize you do indeed miss the point. That boy had spirit and so should we because something can always happen no matter how safe you think you are. Live more people and quit judging so much. Now I need to go paint something. Hey, at least that boy tried. And that took guts, by God.
to have ideals and dreams is the breath of the human soul.
To work towards them successfully takes careful thought, planning, preparation, due diligence, resourcefulness and courage. Our goals can only be reached by making use of all the resources one can obtain which includes other people. Living our lives takes resources and selfishness is the root of materialism. Making wise use of the resources we have includes giving to others in need and only using what you need to survive. I think the only good thing that can come of this person sad death is warning markers for others to avoid similar pitfalls. If idealism leads to an untimely death this seems the natural conclusion.
I don’t understand why some (a lot ) of you are getting so upset by what others take away from Chris’s story, “diversity of thinking is what makes us who we are” My Alaska is my family, I would love to just take off on a self discovery and I hold no malice towards Chris for having a go, But I have a wife and children who depend on me and its sometimes a very scary place to be, I have no map and I definitely went in under prepared, I fail a lot but would like to think I succeed even more, its hard to strike a balance of doing whets rite without loosing your true self in the process, so what did I get from Chris’s story?
Love your kids and tell them so, stay in tune with them the best you can and offer understanding, wont what’s best for them and guide them with out imposing your views, its there life and its up to them what they do with it, the gift of life I give, no strings attached, or it would be a false gift, respect is given when respect is received.
I don’t think Chris’s parents were perfect, they were doing the best they could do, and its sad that Chris could not see that, my gut feeling on Chris is he did find true happiness for a brief period in his life all be it a life to short, but how many of us can say that? And after all its was HIS life! Mistakes and all.
very interesting. why cant people say whats on their mind without being bashed? even if they come across as arogant and so forth. ive been learning wilderness survival skills for a few years and its a good idea to be prepared . but dont let our fears rule the outcome of our life . what if this what if that .
lets try and accept what others do say as okay and not judge them . love is more nice than harsh words.
1. His story did touch many heartstrings. This blog is still going strong since 10-06-2007!!
2. Just saw the movie and I had a desire to learn more about this young man. I have four boys, to me as a single custodial dad of four, it’s very sad.
3. I’m 51 and feel lucky to be alive with all the stupid careless things I did as a young man.
4. I was selfish and hurt my parents many times, and am glad that I have lived to try and make it up to them a bit, and thank them for loving me so much
5. It would be very painful as a parent to have a child die while they were estranged from you
6. For a single person to do all that he did is considered forgivable; when a parent or anyone in charge of others lives does it, it’s irresponsible, selfish or criminal
7. I think we all have feelings that – in this life we want meaning from our lives, maybe to accomplish something ‘great’, if only to ourselves, others to leave a legacy behind, to make a difference. I think he wanted to prove something to others and to himself (movie said he was afraid of water) and to make a difference (because he cared about the poor and needy)
8. Sometimes we can show alot of care towards others and be very harsh on loved ones, maybe because we don’t consider their need to be loved like anyone else, and we take for granted what they provided for us, and their sacrifices for us, in spite of their failings, mental health issues, and struggles
9. Some people are pure evil, but even some parents who’ve made some bad mistakes are probably doing the best they can
11. I think the most dangerous issue in all of his journeys was that he did it all alone, with nobody for a rescue, nobody to discuss options. I can’t imagine going down the Colorado alone. Each success made him more confident that he could do it all on the fly.
12. When I was younger, everything was an all or nothing proposition. I would have been a hard railer on one side or the other, but please forgive me for feeling that it’s okay to be in the middle and admire his youthful courage (wreckless abandon to wholeheartedly pursue a dream, however ill-conceived or idealistic) on the one hand, yet hope my children learn their lessons and see that life does not have to be an all or nothing proposition to find joy, contentment and add meaning to their lives on the other.
What I think is Emily is right. He didn’t just take off on his family and yes it was wrong of him to not tell his family, but what he said was very inspiring. “The core of man’s spirit comes from new experiences.” All Chris wanted to do was what he dreamed and wanted to experience new things. Many bash his life and say he was stupid the poor guy is dead and others are hypicritical and feel bad for him and then you say he was stupid…I just don’t understand.
I have just seen the movie and am in the process of reading the book. It turns out that Chris and I would have been only 4 months apart had he lived. However, while he was traveling through Alaska, I was having my second child. I understand his quest. I understand his dreams. I understand his need to not just live quietly to survive the day, to keep your chidren safe to work, to take care of your spouse. Chris LIVED life. He took this gift that we are all given when we take our first breath and enter this world and used it, he didn’t put it away in a drawer somewhere to save for later. He used it. The two years he spent on the road were like a symphony. Joys, sorrows, up’s and downs. Life is an adventure. Yes, being a parent can be an adventure, but so often we wrap ourselved up in our children’s lives, our spouses lives that we forget who we are and what we are here to live for. I have found that he was right. Your life and happiness cannot depend on your relationships. So many people are on quests to find a mate to find someone to grow old with that they forget to live. I’ve been through two husbands now and found out finally that living for someone else is not where I should be. My last husband could not live with my ache and yearning for adventure and walking the earth in taking in it’s beauty. My fullfillment through hiking, canoeing, swimming in rivers, jumping off rocks, climbing trees, searching for bears each time left me satisfied and content and able to be a better person. He could not understand this need and felt my behavior was reckless and selfish. My adventurous spirit proved to be too much for him to live with.
I understand what Chris was doing. His family gave him life. That did not give them the right to own it forever. My husband tried to own my life. I am gone too. I want to LIVE my life not just survive it…
I am thankful for the people who appreciate Chris’s life and take it into consideration. Now Melissa I wanted to ask how is Into the Wild (the book) I’ve heard very good reviews on it and am soon going to buy it! Also another a lot of people don’t understand is one persons will and love for nature people think it stupid or silly because I want to experience all of that on my own its a way for people to find themselves and shouldn’t be made fun of…
As a reporter in Alaska for more than two decades, I was among the first to wallow in the McCandless story, and I confess to early on thinking he was but another of those poor, misguided fools who die in the north with some regularity. I no longer believe that.
Almost every psychiatrist, psychologist or mental-health professional I’ve talked to about “Into the Wild” over the years has noted — at least among those who’ve read the book — that schizophrenia or bipolar disorder was one of the first things that popped into their thoughts. Most have been reluctant to go on record saying so. Psychiatrist Dr. Michael Cull of Remote Medical in Seattle is an exception.
McCandless, he said, was “probably schizophrenic. I read (the book) some time ago, and it was an interesting book. If he was totally insane, as in psychotic, he wouldn’t have lasted more than a few days. (But) it’s a trip into insanity. It’s his journey into psychosis, and it gets more and more bizarre as times goes on.”
Schizophrenics, Cull added, often tend to be loners like McCandless because they function best as such.
“For a shizophrenic, if they are isolated from society, they can sometimes do better because what confuses them is external input,” the psychiatrist said. Unfortunately, if they are living in the wilderness and their psychosis worsens, there is no one to help them. And in a state of severe psychosis, Cull said, “they have a lot of difficulty just getting food in their mouths and clothes on their back.”
Cull said there have been psychiatrists who have discussed McCandless’s apparent mental problems, but they don’t do so very publicly. One cannot help but wonder how much this reluctance has to do with mental illness being one of those things we just don’t talk about in this country. Because to leave such a diagnosis unstated, or to at least fail to raise a discussion of it as a possibility, is to further the idea crafted by Krakauer and furthered by Penn, the idea that Supertramp/McCandless was a sad but iconic victim of the search for that knowledge many seek when they wander into the wilderness
Published: November 4, 2007
Last Modified: March 12, 2008 at 12:08 PM
First the book and now the movie try to portray Alexander Supertramp as the Everyman example of youth gone off to the wilderness in search of the meaning of life. Unfortunately, Tramp wasn’t Everyman. And he most certainly didn’t go off to the wilderness searching for the meaning of life.
No rational individual can overlook the note he left explaining what he was seeking. He went into the wilderness, in his own words, to stage “the climatic battle to kill the false being within.”
Tramp obviously wasn’t searching for anything. He was running from something, possibly almost everything.
“No longer to be poisoned by civilization,” he wrote, “he flees, and walks alone upon the land to become lost in the wild.”
Note the third-person reference to himself there. It’s a textbook signal for schizophrenia.
Lost is a good place to be if you suffer from this particular mental illness too. Lost is a place removed from all the outside stimuli that make life horribly, and sometimes dangerously, confusing for a schizophrenic.
Normal people lack the desire to become lost in the wild. Normal people use maps, compasses and GPS devices to avoid becoming lost in the wild.
Outdoors editor Craig Medred is an opinion columnist. Find him online at adn.com/contact/cmedred or call 257-4588.
McCandless’ story isn’t really told in the book or the film
Published: November 4, 2007
Last Modified: March 12, 2008 at 12:08 PM
“Into the Wild” is a misrepresentation, a sham, a fraud.
There, I’ve finally said what somebody has needed to say for a long time.
First the book and now the movie try to portray Alexander Supertramp as the Everyman example of youth gone off to the wilderness in search of the meaning of life. Unfortunately, Tramp wasn’t Everyman. And he most certainly didn’t go off to the wilderness searching for the meaning of life.
No rational individual can overlook the note he left explaining what he was seeking. He went into the wilderness, in his own words, to stage “the climatic battle to kill the false being within.”
Tramp obviously wasn’t searching for anything. He was running from something, possibly almost everything.
“No longer to be poisoned by civilization,” he wrote, “he flees, and walks alone upon the land to become lost in the wild.”
Note the third-person reference to himself there. It’s a textbook signal for schizophrenia.
Lost is a good place to be if you suffer from this particular mental illness too. Lost is a place removed from all the outside stimuli that make life horribly, and sometimes dangerously, confusing for a schizophrenic.
Normal people lack the desire to become lost in the wild. Normal people use maps, compasses and GPS devices to avoid becoming lost in the wild.
Over the decades, I’ve met a lot of the young men who’ve gone off to the wilderness to search for meaning or, just as often, adventure. They didn’t change their names, try to forge new identities or contemplate killing a “false being within.”
A few of them, myself included, did turn their backs on civilization for days, weeks, months or years — but not because we were fleeing from it. No, we were seeking a world that existed long ago. Some of us still run to that place on a regular basis. It is good to stay in touch with the land. Just as it is good to remind oneself how comfortable and easy it has become to live in the 21st century.
People who change their names and run into the Alaska wilderness to escape have different reasons. Offhand, I can only even think of a few — “Tramp,” aka Chris McCandless, staved to death; Timothy Treadwell, aka Tim Dexter; got eaten by a bear; and Papa Pilgrim, aka Robert Hale, went to jail for incest. Among this trio, Hale at least had a legitimate reason for changing his name. He was fleeing a shady past.
McCandless was emerging from his teen years into early adulthood — the time adult-onset schizophrenia is known to hit a number of young men — when he changed his name, ran away from his family and friends and started acting strangely. When Jon Krakauer constructed the myth of Tramp in the book “Into the Wild,” he tried to portray these behaviors as part of an edgy but normal search for self.
As others have pointed out, the content of Comment 291 matches the writings of Anchorage Daily News columnist Craig Medred, who has advanced in the McCandless-was-a-schizophrenic theory in various places. You can read more of his armchair analysis here.
I personally find the evidence for such a theory incredibly thin, and the practice of advancing it about a dead man therefore distasteful and unfortunate.
Incidentally, the doctor cited in the article, Dr. Cull, is listed as practicing in “Primary Care, Psychiatry and Anesthesiology.” It’s hard to find anything to suggest he was qualified to make the diagnosis he offers.
Medred writes of psychiatrists’ reluctance to read a book or watch a movie and then diagnose McCandless as a schizophrenic as follows: “One cannot help but wonder how much this reluctance has to do with mental illness being one of those things we just don’t talk about in this country.” Medred seems unaware of a better explanation for the reluctance of psychiatrists to diagnose someone they’ve never met: Ethics.
The New York Times did an article on this type of diagnosis of celebrities, quoting a leading psychiatrist as follows: “This idea of making a diagnosis of someone they’ve never met is completely inappropriate, and it gives mental health professionals a bad name… Trying to make such a diagnosis based purely on someone’s behavior — and worse, their behavior as portrayed selectively by the media — is scientifically impossible.” Source.
“Normal people lack the desire to become lost in the wild”
I agree. In fact, normal people lack the desire to become lost ANYWHERE. There’s that “panic” that sets in whenever you think you are “lost”…even when you’re driving down a street with plenty of people and services around …..imagine being truly “lost” in the “wilderness” ( Chris was only 1/2 mile from a tram that would have taken him across the river that he IMAGINED too daunting to cross )
Using peer-reviewed scientific literature, relying on calculations developed by the World Health Organization, and informed by McCandless’s own food journals, we tested this hypothesis. Our conclusion was that, despite some success hunting and gathering, McCandless was not able to secure enough food on a daily basis. He slowly lost weight until he reached a Body Mass Index (BMI) that was fatal. To test this hypothesis, we calculated his energy expenditure and compared this to his caloric intake. To assess his energy expenditure, we predicted the basal metabolic rate (BMR) of McCandless using a regression equation developed by the World Health Organization for young adult humans, age18-29. His BMR was adjusted to reflect his physical activity level—hunting and gathering—as defined by WHO criteria. McCandless’s caloric intake was estimated from his detailed 113-day food journal. In the end, a day-by-day comparison of his energy expenditure (BMR) and his caloric intake showed a consistent caloric deficit, i.e. weight loss. By Day 113, his Body Mass Index (BMI) had dropped into the range of 13 kg/m2, a level considered incompatible with life. It is believed he died on that same day.
This empirical analysis of McCandless’s energetic state shows a steady loss of weight. He may have gotten sick from one of his meals at the end of July (“Extremely weak. Fault of pot. seed,” he writes on 7/30/92), but this was not the cause of his death. The data show that he died of starvation because he couldn’t meet his energetic needs over 113 days. There is no need to devise a theory based on a botany mistake, or the ingestion of toxic seeds. To suggest, as Krakauer does, that McCandless was “hungry but doing fine” (9/20/07 NPR interview) and “in reasonably good health” (Into the Wild, p. 189), and starved only because he ingested moldy seeds is to ignore the data. However, the poison or moldy plant theories accomplish two things: they enable Krakauer to reprint his book Into the Wild without substantially altering the original text, and the original theory; and second, they allow both Krakauer and Penn a dramatic device (some might say “technique of fiction”) to heighten the tragic nature of the story, and assert that “the guy wasn’t quite as reckless and incompetent as he has been made out to be” (Into the Wild, p. 194). Ironically, it could be argued that having Chris unable to correctly identify a plant, or having him so foolish as to be eating mold, is actually to cast him as more reckless and incompetent than he probably was, and belies both his intelligence and toughness, and his will to live.
“Incidentally, the doctor cited in the article, Dr. Cull, is listed as practicing in “Primary Care, Psychiatry and Anesthesiology.” It’s hard to find anything to suggest he was qualified to make the diagnosis he offers…”
I believe that the “anything” that you are looking for would be that Dr Cull is a Dr of Psychiatry……
‘Almost every psychiatrist, psychologist or mental-health professional I’ve talked to about “Into the Wild” over the years has noted — at least among those who’ve read the book — that schizophrenia or bipolar disorder was one of the first things that popped into their thoughts. Most have been reluctant to go on record saying so. Psychiatrist Dr. Michael Cull of Remote Medical in Seattle is an exception.
Medred writes of psychiatrists’ reluctance to read a book or watch a movie and then diagnose McCandless as a schizophrenic as follows: “One cannot help but wonder how much this reluctance has to do with mental illness being one of those things we just don’t talk about in this country.” Medred seems unaware of a better explanation for the reluctance of psychiatrists to diagnose someone they’ve never met: Ethics’
Note: Medred does not mention that any psychiatrist was in any way reluctant to “read a book or watch a movie”, in fact , He mentions that many a renowned Psychiatrist DID READ THE BOOK and in conclussion: that schizophrenia or bipolar disorder was one of the first things that popped into their thoughts.
Yes, yes, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and multiple personality disorder, they’re all the same thing, and they do tend to be the first things en masse that pop into a psychiatrist’s, or no wait, was it a psychologist’s (well they’re the same thing anyway, one of those psych guy’s), heads after reading a book (that I’m at the same time debunking with another reference), but anyway absolutely thorough enough for these guys to make a diagnosis.
Yah, shrinks typically say to a reporter things like “That was the first thing that popped into my head…”
And yes, yes, his writing style changed over a two year period in his twenties after college and that kind of inconsistency absolutely proves that not only did he have multiple personalities, but that so does everyone who writes in a blog, text messages a boyfriend, finishes a term paper, and writes a shopping list — or reads several books by authors from widely different times and attempts to lay down a consistent sentence in their own voice.
And so as the author stated, at least 20% of all families have multiple personality disorder or was it schizophrenia, I can’t remember. That’s why nobody talks about it — it’s common but it’s rare because we don’t know how common it is. Glad it’s finally out in the open.
Pass the Freud, please. And another herring while you’re up..
This story of a life lived and lost cetainly brings out many philosophies of thought. I believe the book Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose depicts something more real. I have read almost all these posts and it bothers me the cavalier attitude, taken by some, of human life and the inherent nobility of man. When humanity is viewed as a virus and with a defeatist attitude how do you help your fellow man. People have artfully hidden their political agendas in posts when this began to discuss a percieved meaning of a mans life. People that say they don’t judge are only fooling themselves. When you make a decision you are making a judgement of something. I don’t think of Chris as a hero or an idiot per say. He had courage like many people today. He was a dreamer and forfeited his life because of his dreams. He is gone but I challenge all to to find the courage to help someone live their dreams even your own.
Comments 291, 296, 297, 299, 300, 301, 302 were all left by the same IP address, and it comes from Wisconsin, not Alaska. That commenter therefore is breaking two rules of this blog: 1. Presenting someone else’s writing as his own; and 2. Leaving multiple comments under different names.
Everybody who think that what this guy did was selfish or wrong has some problems of there own!! Have any of you read the book?!?! he did it becasue he is sick of society and he is right! all of us in this world are so full of ourselfs and our money that we dont stop to see that we are ruining everything for ourselves. I know many people think he was stupid but im sure you would never and even have the nerve todo what Chris did, so sit here and critisize all you want, your just the kind of person he was trying to get away from!
Chris McCandless lived his life. Krakauer (sp?) wrote about it. Sean Penn made a movie about the book. Outside of those three facts, anything else attributed to Chris’s story is more of a reflection of the person making the attribution than of anything that Chris did or thought or said or felt. Why people have to run him down or build him up is beyond my understanding. I cannot imagine why a stable person would have to attempt to live vicariously through a dead person – whether by making him a saint or a bum. Whatever you believe is an original observation about Chris’s life and what you WANT his life to represent has much more to say about you and your relationship to reality than any insight you might have into the reality that was his life.
Chris McCandless was a selfish spoiled little rich kid who thought he was having a spiritural experience and simply committed suicide by mother nature. The whole theory of why McCandless done what he done is foolish. Parents having problems, arguing, and possible divorce. Hell thats half the kids in America. The divorce rate is 50% in this country. Half of all Marriages end in divorce and plenty of children see far worse from their parents then the McCandless children. Also to hate materialism and wealth is a weak excuse, especially for some one as fortunate and wanting for nothing as the McCandless children. For all of you who support how Chris McCandless lived and died I look forward to seeing you do just what he did with the same lack of education about nature he had. They will find you dead as well. Yes Chris McCandless was bright but so was Mozart and he was as crazy as you get. Intelligence does not eqaute to common sense. A love of nature does not equate to suicide. It is a shame what Chris McCandless put his parents through. A horrible unappreciative spoiled kid is all I see when I see the Movie In To The Wild. Yes I felt sorry for Chris McCandless but by the end of the movie I felt more sorry for his parents. All you people on here who see anything but a tragedy in this story need to seriously look at your own life. McCandless committed suicide and was a troubled young man. He did not live and enjoy nature. He lived as a hobo, and died because the nature he claimed to love did not love him back. He was un-prepared, un-educated to live in the wild, and just plain foolish. To think otherwise just shows your ignorance. Good Day!
The reality of Chris McCandless’s life is quite plain to see. Sean Penns Movie laid most of the blame squarely on the parents and materialism. I can tell you poor children and less fortunate people don’t want to hear bullshit stories like this. We don’t want to hear rich kids talk about materialism when they had it good all their life. We don’t want to hear about parents who argue and talk about divorce when our parents beat us, are never home, and expose us to drugs and sexual abuse on a massive scale. I can tell you this poor children would love to have parents who loved them like the McCandless parents loved their children. It is a shame the way the McCandless children, especially Chris McCandless treated his parents. They never knew if he was alive or dead and nothing mentioned in that movie is anywhere close to a reason why he should have done that. The movie does not say Chris McCandless was molested, beat to a pulp, or otherwise harmed beyond normal life issues. So your parents argued, read my previous post, oh they offered to buy you a new car, I dare them do such a thing! So they almost got a divorce! My parents did get a divorce yet I did not commit suicide. This is a sob storry for a poor rich kid and I am sick of hearing all you fools, probally other rich kids, hale Chris McCandless as some cult phenom! Bottom line this kid was horrible to his parents and died because of suicide or foolishness. His Parents Deserved Better. Good Day!
Kristina Alvarez needs to get a life. Chris has done nothing except torture his parents who did absolutely nothing to deserve it. So you hate materialism M.S. Alvarez. Then lay down all your material goods and go live in the woods. Turn off your electricity, burn your car and money, and free yourself from the chains of materialism. Destroy your computer and every materialistic thing you have and move to Alaska and live off the land! Your a fool and if you meant what you said you would follow in your heros foot steps. Until you do stop critsizing others you hypocrite! I travel and see nature on a daily basis I vacation and ski in Montana, Colorado, and Oregon. I love nature, hiking, fishing, hunting and I do plenty of it. But I know how to live off the land and I know if I get sick where to go and how to get help. People like Ms Alvarez could not survive a day without electricity or TV Dinners. Have you ever roughed it in the woods for days at a time? I doubt it. Your nothing but a socialist tyrant Ms. Alvarez. Good Day!
The same goes for yo Hannah! If Chris was such a pioneer then follow in his footsteps. Rid yourself of the chains of materialism, burn all you have, and move to the woods. Treat your parents like crap, let them believe the worst, and finally die because you lack the knowledge to even find your way out of your situation. I said it before and nothing anyone says on here changes one simple fact. Chris McCandless was selfish, tortured his parents, and he did nobody any favors. He did not create some big movement that touched the hearts of people. He sure as hell did nothing to help the poor and less fortunate people of society. The world Chris McCandless envisioned has never exisited, does not exist today, and will never exist in the future. It did not exist under socialism, communism, democracy or any other form of government. It is another utopian idea that is foolish and fool hearted. In the end the believers die. Just like Heavens Gate, or Jonestown. It is just that the only true believe in Chris McCandless cult was Chris himself so he was the only one to die. But he hurt many people and that is the sad irony. Good Day.
Chris McCandless searched for nothing I want and found nothing I want. I am an avid backcountry camper, and hiker. I have lived off a variety of wild animals and plants. But I have not been foolish and I always have a healthy respect for mother nature. Chris McCandless had nothing. He respected nothing, and lived at the expense of others. If that is not the definition of selfishness then I don’t know what is. Stop trying to make this guy somethig he is not. All you new age idiots. Good Day.
Self-righteousness smells the same whether it comes from wealth or poverty, a happy family or a broken one. It says, I’m better than you and I wish you pain, and it will inflict it on you since I have that right as an ideal, and you in your beliefs, hopes and mistakes are a lesser.
Interestingly such people think others are egotistical, and look for their own negative qualities in others, in whom they see amplified version of their own unquenchable anger.
After reading the book and watching the movie about Chris, I will always admire this young, intense, adventurous soul. Dying in the end, although tragic for him, his family, and acquaintances, as Sean Penn portrayed Chris indeed “died alive”.
Chris was a tormented young man. I believe he had mental problems.
As a young man I travelled the west coast for a summer and found good and bad people and it changed my perspective on life and improved my relationship with my folks.
I recognized how self centered and foolish I was.
As a father, Chris’s story saddens me, I wish he could have realized his foolishness in time to restablish a relationship with his parents.
He is not a hero, should not have been misrepresented by the write or director.
But that is the way life is.
Yea what ever! Self Righteous lol. Here is a kid who tormented his parents, had no respect for the people who loved him and I am self-Righteous. lol. Just goes to show you that the truth flies in the face of idiocy. Don’t be jealous of the truth. All of you admirers of Chris please follow in his foot steps. Burn your money, don’t have a contingency plan for when things go wrong, and live like an idiot. It will leave more space for me when you die. Don’t be a hypocrite live like your hero Chris. But live the way he did. Don’t plan, don’t think, just do it. If you don’t your a coward and a liar. Your all hypocrites. You let a book and a movie written in a manner that tries to put reason to insanity and all of a sudden Chris is a hero. lol. I guess it is the old attage if it is written as a true story then it must be true. I do believe Chris was suffering from a mental illness called stupidity and childish behavior. It just shows how much he cared for his family. As for all you who follow Chris I look forward to your stories and perhaps you could be cult heros in death as well. Idiots!
I’m neither a hater nor a lover of Chris McCandless – just interested in how Krakauer and Penn portrayed his life. Why in the world would you (Joe) be so negative and vile toward people who see some good in the stories told, or something they relate to. Personally, I don’t believe there are any “larger” lessons to be learned from the story.
If you have an opinion or feelings about what Chris did, great, but why do you have to put down others for their beliefs about his story? I guess I’m just not in tune to that kind of blind hatred toward others who don’t share your particular perspective.
I hope you can shake it someday, man, because there is a lot of beauty in the world once you decide to look for it.
As I’ve said before, though, if this blog keeps you from road rage or beating your kids or yelling at your wife, or cursing your workplace or kicking yours or someone else’s dog, then I guess maybe it serves a purpose for you after all.
No evidence that Chris McCandless ate a poisionous plant and the autopsy does not find any such poisionous plant in Chris’s system. This is just something that is in the movie but is totally false based on the evidence. As for it being a spiritual experience for Chris and that he was at peace, I doubt both assumptions. Death by starvation is horrible painful and delusional. It is likely Chris was literally out of his mind in the end and he suffered great pain. So if that is spiritual to you Chris McCandless cult followers then have at it. Follow his lead and do find yourself. It appears that along with a gifted mind Chris also had a troubled one. He was perhaps even mentally ill. But he was no hero or spiritual guru. No matter how many want to believe such foolish thoughts. A rage against materialism. Such a crock. Good Day.
Well, I guess a lot of spiritual leaders the world’s religions and cultures look up to spent their time wandering, without jobs or apparent destinations, eating little, taking alms, not talking about their parents, not communicating with them or supporting them in their old age, disdaining money, refusing to obey authority, going against popular opinion, living in poverty, speaking against materialasm, suggesting one not throw stones, asking people to be kind to eachother, and not to kill eachother, and generally coming to a terrible end.
Doesn’t seem to stop people from valuing them, even if they do ignore every single aspect of those teachings on such a wholesale scale that it beggars the imagination.
I don’t think they wanted us to crucify ourselves, just act like something better than we do.
The people who like Chris don’t like what happened to him, and don’t want to emulate that part of his life. They just want to appreciate the good in him.
If you think there is none, you can’t see it anywhere else, including in yourself.
We are discussing a young person who took 2 years of his life to venture out; yes he hurt his family during this time tremendously…..this happens all the time whether by disappearing as Chris or via other insults (violence, drugs, abuse, etc.). As for the assumed painful death, check out an oncology unit sometime….
Had Chris survived, who can say things would not have taken a turn, whereby, he would have made peace with his mother and father? We will never know, but it’s certainly in the realm of possibility.
I do not understand why some folks are so devoted to devouring this kid ……a young person that had success, followed his dreams, made mistakes (foolish and non-foolish), tooks chances.
While I am here on earth, I rather focus on the good in others.
Well, been doing much reading and research and trying to get a “feel” for Chris’ situation and journey.
First off, everybody has been posting some very interesting opinions and feeling on Chris’ story. I will see the movie but am quite sure that i will see something glorified and editied in the purpose of filling the box offices and selling DVD’s to the public. We must remember that we are seeing others intrepretations of what had happened based on as much evidence and facts that they can find to give us.We may only know half of the story from this or even less. I am sure most want to give us the most honest and truthfull views possible.
There are just so many question marks as to the why’s and how’s of Chris’ journey.Being an avid outdoorsman i may have slighlty negative opinions on what he had done and why, but i like to think of myself as an intellectual and will be as objective as i can on my observations and comments.
I can definately understand someone wanting to remove themselves from society and it troubles and turmoils of everyday life.I do it often , just go somewhere to get away. Seems that Chris was an intelligent person , this leads me to believe that (IMO of course) he wanted things to end out in the wilderness, at the begining anyways. If he wanted to survive the ordeal he would have taken the neccessary precautions to survive to trully get back home, he would have researched it. Maybe he did not fully understand what the potentials were of such actions. Maybe if he had been raised in different elements, closer to nature he may not have had such an idealistic view of the wilderness. Living off the land , surviving by your own hand and ingenuity is a wonderful feeling.
My thought is that the reality of where he was set in ,and eventually realized that he trully was mortal that he did want to get out at some point and really didn’t want to die but the damage had already been done. It is a very beautiful place on a post card and in movies, BUT the wilderness is relentless, it takes when it wants and what it wants, there are NO second chances.
Was he on a quest? elightenment? running? OR did he do exactly what he inteneded, I do not know. Was he a troubled young man, possible, at that age we question everything and go against the grain.Did he just want to experience the wilderness and through ignorance the elements overcome him.
I do feel that there is some selfishness happening just due to the fact that he decided not to continue contact with his family. We don’t truly know how his personal life was, maybe this was a way of him saying “i’ll show you”. Living life includes the ones around you that you love. Sharing with them. Go on your journeys and then return, that will truly enlighten you. Maybe that was his intention also.
In summary, Chris’ apparent unprepairedness was his demise.Was it due to ignorance, intent , or misfortune. We will never know.
Chris’ story does not inspire me nor does it depress me. To me it is just a story of a man.
These are my views , they are not intended to judge a person.
If anyone would care to comment or reiterate please do.
I welcome the oportunity to discuss this in further detail.
Joe has taken the core facts and made some logical conclusions. It seems like most of the people here see only the few good traits this guy had and kind of turned a blind
eye to the overwhelming stupidity that jumps out and smacks you in the face.
Here are the facts
1 He did not contact his family at all
2 He lived like a bum
3 He went into Alaska unprepared on purpose
There’s a word for this people. STUPID
These facts are not open to debate. Any logical thinking person can instantly see that this person has some problems.
Now there is all kinds of extra info you can pile on top of these undeniable truths to exlain these moves. But no matter what his reasons. No matter why he did what he did, you cant escape the reality.
A lot people tend to agree with chris on his views regarding society and materialism. What the hell is so bad about society in this country? Im not sayin we dont have serious problems. But if you are goal oriented and have the drive to reach your goals you can more then just put food on the table. How many societys can boast that? Not to shabby.
Theres millions of people who would give there right arm to be part of our society. Just look at our southern border.
So why the hell would you think its so damn bad that you would run to Alaska?
Ever wonder how an african starving to death would view a rich kid turning his back on a society full of food and the finer things? They wouldnt see a hero either. Just a fool.
Materialisism is the pay off for the advances man kind has made in the last two hundred years. I for one feel greatfull that I have a roof over my head with heat, lights and plumbing. Its all these material things that help us really enjoy this world we live in. I love material things and i dont think its a horrible concept. Consider how life would be with out cool material shit.
Why do people look up to some one like chris? I look up to some one who sets goals and succeeds. Someone who says ”I love my FAMILY and will do everything in my power to make their life the best it can be” To me theres nothing more important then friends and family.
His family did nothing to deserve that kind of treatment. I know some will say “its his life and he could do what he wants.” I agree, if he wants to be an ungreatfull, selfish asshole then thats his prerogative.
Hero? Nah. If this guy is a hero then we all are heros.
I just finished watching the movie. I agree that his ideals are admirable, but hiking into the alaskan wilderness unprepared and unexperienced is either plain stupid or just plain arrogant. I believe his ideals ran off with his sanity in my judgement.
So why are there not any comments about folks that climb Mt. Everest (and other peaks – Mt.Hood) and die each year leaving loved one’s behind? From what I know, most them are well educated, with excellent suvival skills, equipped with essential gear, yet in the end they die. From the get go, I would think they are/were aware of the statistics pertaining to the risk of death. They still choose to climb; their loved ones aware.
“lived like a bum” – by whose estimate? – the way a person lives their life is a very personal thing and relative in its very nature.
Herein lies the problem of deifying or vilifying Chris. It’s all one person’s opinion. The only thing that’s true is the way Chris lived his life. All of the lovers and haters trying to find meaning or tear him down – your purpose is so transparent – thinking Chris was a bad person doesn’t make you a better one and worshiping things you see in Chris that you aspire to doesn’t make those things true in your life.
Dude lived his life – you people should quit judging or trying to find meaing from a dead man and live a little yourselves.
If there is anything “big” lesson to be learned from Chris’s life (and I really don’t think there is) it’s that you live, you die. Some people spend more time dying than living. Hope you aren’t one of them.
Koman, it’s perfectly natural for people to seek meaning in anyone’s life. If you don’t want to, that’s fine. If you do want to that’s fine, too. Negative meaning, positive meaning, big meaning, little meaning, no meaning.
Yes it may reflect the needs of the person who does the seeking. What activity doesn’t? Even your preference for not seeking meaning reflects your personal needs.
Telling others to get a life assumes you know they don’t have one. By your own admission you don’t know what another person’s life is like, so what’s the problem?
I’m sure eveyone here does actually have a life, whatever that phrase means. Even the ones whose comments I don’t personally like.
My last comment on this board! It seems that the truth is not accepted by most on here. I have been harsh at times and to what end that has offended any one I appologize. However I don’t appologize for telling the truth as I see it. There was no meaning to the Death of Chris McCandless. There was no spiritual awakening. I believe it is quite possible that we have only one existence, the one here on earth. Chris could have took his love of nature to a new level by helping to preserve it and becoming an environmentalist, conservationist or something else. Instead he chose a path, or if he was mentally ill perhaps he could not help himself, that lead to destruction. He taught me nothing. It was no spiritual awakening and I did not feel enlightened by the book or the movie. I was left with an overwhelming sense of a wasted life and a tormented family. When I hear of people attaching a cult like idolism to Chris I am left to wonder what kind of people live in this world. Chris died, most likely, because of a mental illness. It was not a rage or statement against materialism, which is some abstract concept that others claim they share but partake of at the same time. I will call Chris’s death what it is! It is, or was, a tragedy and there was no meaning to it. Materialism, which we all partake in, had noting to do with it. Good Day, and Good Bye, Joe.
I do not believe that there is any cult idolism.
It’s an interesting story that sometimes touches “close to home” for some people. Whether the book or movie is true to fact or not, it’s a book, it’s a movie. Simply put: some people are moved by it and some people are not. That’s beautiful in itself. Heck I love Bilbo!
One final thing, as for comments with regard to his possible “mental illness”, if that’s true, what’s with the tough judgement and the expectations of him making the “right” decisions, producing, contributing, excelling in society as a non-mentally ill person?
I just finished watching the movie. Besides the terrible drone of Pearl Jam, which was annoying enough, Chris & his sister were more annoying. His sister’s constant explanation of this terrbile childhood was difficult to stomach for two hours. I didn’t feel this explained any of his selfish behavior and he wasn’t getting a “pass” for it from me no matter how many times she brought it up.
I can admire the courage it took to venture into the unknown with a willing (and surely CRAZY) spirit but I am not sure he deserves this cult status. Those that love to fantasize over this poor, dead man’s “greatness” (by opinion only) should remember that although society can suck it’s produced some very detailed maps over the years and that they tend to come in handy from time to time.
I think materialism is a word that doesn’t have a clear meaning, even though I’ve used it myself. The version I meant was excessive materialism. I don’t mean the desire to feed and shelter oneself or family, or even try to do the best you can in a job. What I think of as excessive materialism is forgetting that we are each human beings, imperfect, subject to error. And then merely struggling to acquire without concern for the consequences to others or the world at large, dog eat dog style. I don’t know anyone here who fits that category, since I don’t personally know anyone here at all.
Different people have different levels of tolerance for the misery, famine, and ongoing horrors in the world. Everyone has some level at which they turn off their feelings of empathy, in order to continue on in a day to day life without being overwhelmed by what they would face if they looked more closely. It is a survival mechanism which is not unique to this culture, or any other. It is our animal and tribal instinct. It is that which the religions, and societies of law, have tried, and failed, to overcome. By any measure, the history of the world is one of slaughter and poverty.
For others, it is not so easy to look away, and depression and a need for action or flight from the world can be the result. They are less able to ignore what we all know is out there, and they feel they are participants in it themselves. They see it everywhere all the time, and concentrate on it. It is inescapable for them.
I don’t presume to know if this was actually a scenario for Chris McCandless. There is no way of knowing. But it is a feeling I have about it, so I’m writing it here. It is completely open to dispute.
I don’t think that by disappearing into the wild a person will necessarily come to terms and shake that conviction. Maybe he was trying to burn it out of himself by subjecting what he called “the beast within” to the test of life or death. Is life worth living – can you live in that world. Can you come back to it and realize you are a part of it with a responsibility to it? Or will you remain a child?
I don’t know. Maybe he just liked being alone. I don’t know what he thought. I certainly don’t think that by cutting off others you can help others or yourself. At least not during that time you are gone. Maybe if you return. But of course we will never know. He didn’t escape. For whatever reason. We don’t know that either.
I do know that there have been times in my own life (and I am nearing 60 now) when I have felt that way, overwhelmed by the problems I’ve seen around me, with no solution I can offer, nothing I think I can make a difference with. And maybe Koman is right, I’m merely projecting my own feelings onto another. It is not easy to ignore a terrible story like this. Or wonder what it is about. What happened.
I do feel a kinship with this young man, though I certainly wish he had not died when he did, where he did, and as separate as he did. I just mean, I have felt the way I think he felt sometimes.
I don’t personally care whether he died from eating a plant, or some esoteric fungus, or whether he simply starved over that period of time. No matter what, I feel sorry for him in that agony, fear, ( and he wrote he was afraid, alone, and hungry) and loneliness. I’m sure he knew it was his own doing. I don’t think by then he blamed anyone.
If he threw something away, I also cannot blame him because in my life I also have thrown things of worth away. I am no wiser than any other person on this planet, and have led no better life in terms of goodness or foresight, or even rationality. I have been wasteful of everything it is possible for a person to be wasteful of. No better than him or anyone else.
I don’t expect anyone else to share the way I feel, or even understand it.
I don’t want to emulate him. I don’t need to enter the wild to find the source of both error, and hope, or connection to the world, in myself. I do not need to die, though I will, like all who have come before, and all who will come after. We all have that in common.
I have a wonderful family of my own now, a child, too, unlike him. I don’t want to leave society. I do wish that people would be kinder to each other, recognize that they all come from the same source. All are fallible.
I don’t expect that kindness to happen, except through a willingness to make it happen. We are all jointly responsible for the world we have created and participate in. If it is a hell, then we have created it. It is our world. To me we are responsible for each other. We cannot escape that. Not in the wild. And not in the best laid plans of a careful and conforming life.
I’m sure much of the film is fiction, as it’s a creative adaptation of a primarily third person narrative. The heart of the story’s resonance lies in its mystery, and Mr. McCandless didn’t leave much behind to help others determine his motives.
I’d like to think that he was someone who was determined to live life as honestly and purely as he possibly could, but there are other possiblities. Maybe he was forced by his morality to reject the hypocrisy of suburbia (eg the only way for me to have is for others to have not); or, maybe he was dedicated to pushing the limits of existence and made an error that cost him; or, maybe he was delusional.
Regardless, the fact that he chose to give up each moment to faith and let life lead the way is absolutely stunning. I just wish he had had the time to write about it himself.
After reading many posts about Chris McCandless, watching the movie “Into The Wild”, and doing my own research on the story. These are my own thoughts.
I have thoroughly enjoyed the movie, story, articles, interview’s and posts about Chris and his journey. I understand that the only person who knew exactly what happened, how it happened, and why it happened is Chris, and he took those secrets wth him. So all we are left to do is peice together a puzzle that we don’t have all the pieces for, and then guess what it’s supposed to be.
Many people are inspired by Chris, many are mad, and some puzzled why so many are so interested in a guy who went on a journey and didn’t survive. I think many of us that are inspired, it’s because we can identify with him, many of those that are mad don’t know the whole story, just don’t understand. or have had someone do something similar and were effected by it. And for those that are baffled, win lose or draw I think he tried to do something many of us want to do but can’t bring ourselves to do it, for whatever reason.
Few if any of us knew Chris. Therefore we can only speculate about what happened to him, what he went through or who he was and who he became. Many people feel the call of the road, myself included. We all respond in different ways, I’m not about to say what he did or, how he went about doing it was right or wrong. Because who am I to say that a person lived their life wrong, or that they hurt their family or freinds, or broke laws, or whatever. As Steven Tyler says in the Aerosmith song “Amazing”. “Life’s a journey, not a destination”. I think Chris felt something along those lines. To leave everything behind, and experience life like that alone. And that was his choice. Right or wrong, it was a choice he made.
Some thing’s I noticed in the movie that I thought “now why would he do that”. When he was ready to leave the magic bus, he got back to the Teklinaka River and noticed that it was rushing with the snow melting and coming down the mountain. Why would he try to step in? Knowing it was too cold and too strong to cross. Why wouldn’t he travel up stream looking for another spot to cross? In the movie it seems he has no map of the area. I found a website called “Call of the Wild ino the wild debunked’. I found that in the coroners report, there was a list of his possessions . A road map of the area was listed among them, also his wallet with identification and $300 cash. And the bus didn’t just fall out of the sky there, there is a guy who lives but 5 miles from where Chris died. So who knows what really happened there.
Also on that website I found something else. In the movie and in the book it is agreed that Chris made a costly mistake in his choosing of which plants to eat. On May 8th 1992 Chris weighed 134 pounds, by August 18th he weighed 83 pounds, that’s 51 pounds in 113 days. It seems he couldn’t find enough food to sustain the energy he used every day. As anyone who has spent time in the wilderness knows, all that hiking and looking for food uses alot of energy. He brought a 10 pound bag of rice, he was unprepared. I commend him for beleiving he would make it work, there is food out there, if you can find it, you can find a way to get it. He tried with the moose, but it did’t work out. Maybe he should have harvested a smaller portion of the animal. I beleive it wasn’t the poisoned plants, but simple lack of food to sustain the energy needed for that kind of life.
Lastly, if you look at the picture of Chris in front of the bus. Notice the sleeve of his right arm, then look at the stomach area. I’m not so sure his arm is in that sleeve. Did Chris sustain an arm injury that prevented him from leaving, but healed enough to not be noticed in an autopsy? That would explain many things, but even if this was the case why wouldn’t Chris try using a signal fire to try and get help, it’s easy enough to do, just start a fire, and throw green leaves and whatnot on the fire, creates alot of smoke which can be seen for miles, especially when Alaska has 24 hours of daylight in the summer. I am left with many questions that will probably never be answered. The only person who truly knew was Chris.
just finished watching this movie…basically would have to rate it a 5 and only that high based on nice scenery…obviously many can relate to various aspects of the movie such as setting out on your own when you come of age or testing your manhood or rage against the machine or whatever but this guy did nothing interesting…imo anyway..seems to me all he did was travel around taking pictures of himself(what was up with that anyway?)..anyway..he travelled around,took pictures of himself then died..end of story..too bad for his family and obviously a lesson to be learned by all youngsters setting out on their journey…actually thinking about it now the story may sway some young folk from venturing out unprepared or at least stay in contact with family and remember to bring lots of film
Everybody just needs to stop bashing someone who is dead. I have finally found some people who appreciate Chris and understand what he was thinking and thankfully people like that make this world easier to live in. Its the stubborn people who all they care about is money and themselves. Well all Chris wanted to do was find himself and by leaving society he found that isolation isnt the answer but why not get away for a little while you can come back its the gratification for ones self. It may sound selfish but make yourself happy before you make anyone else happy…
No-one is perfect and no one,aside from his friends and family really knew him and no one aside from himself can be the judge of his motives yet there are events others can learn from and possibly should be pointed out,especially since the whole event was brought to the public forum, to help others not make the same mistakes.
Does anyone else feel that McCandless WAS able to communicate his idealism to the masses? He was a highly intelligent man, with several personal contradictions but with a strong conviction for how he felt. His death has inspired thousands of people – albeit in different ways to imagine how life might have been from his perspective. That, in itself, is meaningful. Most people don’t even have a conviction that they’re willing to die for – which is okay. However, you can’t condemn him for becoming a martyr to his own. There is value in his sacrifice; and this like many things valuable, it is met with great resistance. It doesn’t mean he was an idiot at all, nor does it mean that the people inspired by him are either. It only means that he died for a purpose – we are all that purpose. He did not die in vein.
what idealism….even though we can’t know his exact motives or intentions we can see signs that seem to point to certain conclusions…some feel he was on some sort of spiritual journey,trying to get within,sick of the material world…my question is what type of gun should i bring on my spiritual journey
You can’t call a person stupid or call them an idiot just because they want to experience life. Basically your saying people who backpack around the world or go hiking are stupid. Yes I believe he could’ve been better prepared but don’t call the man a moron because he wanted to find more in life. Don’t be small-minded when it comes to people like this if you decide to find truth behind life his experience will better prepare you in case of danger or possible death. People that are small-minded make this world harder to live in…
I have read comments on here for several weeks just trying to get a sense of the issues here. I realize many people put faith in some spiritual meaning to Chris’s death! I also see some people on here who go overboard on critisizing Chris out of pure hatred. But I see others who critisize Chris and his death because they genuinely feel his death was in vain and meaningless. They saw a bright kid, intelectually, but perhaps a troubled kid mentally. I think those individuals are right on target. I don’t agree with anyone who says this was a spiritual journey. Chris’s journey was a journey of anguish and pain. A journey of, perhaps, mental illness. However it should not be surprising after a book was written and a movie made for Chris to have followers in a cult like fashion. People in this world are so shallow, weak, and full of self doubt that they will follow anyone even a tortured soul like Chris. I laugh when some say he was lashing out against materialism. Burning his money only to have to go to work later to make more of it. No rational person kills himself in the way Chris did. So I would say Chris was irrational and mentally ill. I don’t see anyone of his cult like followers burning all their materialism and following after him! No the truth and tragedy of this whole story is one of mental illness. Mental illness is the only way to explain suicide by nature. The sad reality is that no one seemingly detected any signs of mental illness! This is not a heroic quest for self exploration or finding ones self. This is a mentally ill person doing irrational things, in relation to his education, and dieing for no reason what so ever. Those who truly follow him, not those spouting off at the mouth, and do exactly as he did are also mentally ill. Were not talking about cross country hikers and campers, or even your average hobo. Most people don’t do things to the point of dieing. Even some of the most desperate people stop short of killing themselves. Not Chris he stayed, even after he got sick, and died. He died in the bus without even trying to leave? There was no evidence of poision in his system. That is an assumption made but not provable. An autopsy found no poision in Chris’s system. The cause of death was starvation. Think about this? How does one allow themself to starve to death without trying to do something about it? Chris starved to death in the Bus! Not outside the bus, not on the trail looking for something to eat, not by the river trying to catch fish, not on a trail trying to leave and find food by getting to the highway, but in the damn bus!!!!!! If that is not suicide I don’t know what is. So in closing I will further confirm the comments on here by many and say there was no purpose to Chris’s Death, no spiritual or cultural meaning to it, nothing to be learned from it at all. Those of you who believe such foolishness are just as lost as Chris was. Chris McCandless never found himself, never found peace, and never found the meaning of life. All Chris found was pain, suffering, and death. Chris died scared, cold, hungry, in pain, and alone. Not a very heroic death in my opinion. Not something I choose to follow either. As intelligent as Chris was he still could not overcome his mental illness and that is the tragedy. Good Day, Mike.
In addition the film seems to point at the river as keeping Chris from hiking out of the back country. The river apparently had risen so the film suggest thats why Chris never attempted to cross it. I submit that, rather than starving to death slowly, a rational person would risk hypothermia and drowning for a chance at crossing the river. So I don’t believe Chris died by accident. As I said above Chris died in the bus. He did not die trying to save himself. Good Day.
I normally don’t post other peoples work and I may get in trouble for doing it here but here is an article by Peter Christian, a Park Ranger in Alaska. It is an interesting article on Chris McCandless from some one who is living the life Chris McCandless wanted but doing so and still living.
Chris McCandless from an Alaska Park Ranger’s Perspective
by Peter Christian
Both Chris McCandless and I arrived in Alaska in 1992. We both came to Alaska from
the area around Washington, D.C. We were both about the same age and had a similar
idea in mind; to live a free life in the Alaska wild. Fourteen years later Chris McCandless
is dead and I am living the dream I set out to win for myself. What made the difference
in these two outcomes?
There was nothing heroic or even mysterious about what Chris McCandless did in April
1992. Like many Alaskans, I read Jon Krakauer’s book “Into the Wild” when it first
came out and finished it thinking, “why does this guy rate an entire book?” The fact that
Krakauer is a great outdoor writer and philosopher is the bright spot and it makes a great
read, but McCandless was not something special.
As a park ranger both at Denali National Park, very near where McCandless died, and
now at Gates of the Arctic National Park, even more remote and wild than Denali, I am
exposed continually to what I will call the “McCandless Phenomenon.” People, nearly
always young men, come to Alaska to challenge themselves against an unforgiving
wilderness landscape where convenience of access and possibility of rescue are
practically no nexistent. I know the personality type because I was one of those young
In fact, Alaska is populated with people who are either running away from something or
seeking themselves in America’s last frontier. It is a place very much like the frontier of
the Old West where you can come to and reinvent yourself. In reality, most people who
make it as far as Alaska never get past the cities of Fairbanks and Anchorage because
access is so difficult and expensive (usually by airplane), travel is so hard, the terrain is
challenging, the bears are real, and so on.
A very few competent and skillful people make a successful go at living a free life in the
wild, build a home in the mountains, raise their children there and eventually come back
with good stories and happy endings. A greater number give it a try, realize it is neither
easy nor romantic, just damn hard work, and quickly give up and return to town with
their tails between their legs, but alive and the wiser for it.
Some like McCandless, show up in Alaska, unprepared, unskilled and unwilling to take
the time to learn the skills they need to be successful. These quickly get in trouble and
either die by bears, by drowning, by freezing or they are rescued by park rangers or other
rescue personnel–but often, not before risking their lives and/or spending a lot of
government money on helicopters and overtime.
When you consider McCandless from my perspective, you quickly see that what he did
wasn’t even particularly daring, just stupid, tragic and inconsiderate. First off, he spent
very little time learning how to actually live in the wild. He arrived at the Stampede Trail
without even a map of the area. If he had a good map he could have walked out of his
predicament using one of several routes that could have been successful. Consider where
he died. An abandoned bus. How did it get there? On a trail. If the bus could get into
the place where it died, why couldn’t McCandless get out of the place where he died?
The fact that he had to live in an old bus in the first place tells you a lot. Why didn’t he
have an adequate shelter from the beginning? What would he have done if he hadn’t
found the bus? A bag of rice and a sleeping bag do not constitute adequate gear and
provisions for a long stay in the wilderness.
No experienced backcountry person would travel during the month of April. It is a time
of transition from winter’s frozen rivers and hard packed snow with good traveling
conditions into spring’s quagmire of mud and raging waters where even small creeks
become impassible. Hungry bears come out of their dens with just one thing in mind—
Furthermore, Chris McCandless poached a moose and then wasted it. He killed a
magnificent animal superbly conditioned to survive the rigors of the Alaskan wild then,
inexperienced in how to preserve meat without refrigeration (the Eskimos and Indians do
it to this day), he watched 1500 pounds of meat rot away in front of him. He’s lucky the
stench didn’t bring a grizzly bear to end his suffering earlier. And in the end, the moose
died for nothing.
So what made the difference between McCandless and I fourteen years ago? Why am I
alive and he is dead? Essentially, Chris McCandless committed suicide while I
apprenticed myself to a career and a life that I wanted more badly than I can possibly
describe in so short an essay. In the end I believe that the difference between us was that
I wanted to live and Chris McCandless wanted to die (whether he realized it or not). The
fact that he died in a compelling way doesn’t change that outcome. He might have made
it work if he had respected the wilderness he was purported to have loved. But it is my
belief that surviving in the wilderness is not what he had in mind.
I did not start this essay to trash poor Chris McCandless. Not intentionally. It is sad that
the boy had to die. The tragedy is that McCandless more than likely was suffering from
mental illness and didn’t have to end his life the way he did. The fact that he chose
Alaska’s wildlands to do it in speaks more to the fact that it makes a good story than to
the fact that McCandless was heroic or somehow extraordinary. In the end, he was sadly
ordinary in his disrespect for the land, the animals, the history, and the self-sufficiency
ethos of Alaska, the Last Frontier.
I believe I gave proper credit to the article above and hope the moderator allows the article by the park ranger to stay on the board. He may not and that is of course his right but by reading this article I learned alot about Chris McCandless and am convinced his death was more suicide than accident. In fact it almost looks like a planned suicide. This article also pointed out a coincidence. While watching the scene of the moose slaughter I thought what a waste of meat. It was evident McCandless did not know how to slaughter a moose much less preserve the meat. The article above, by the Park Ranger, is the most revealing insight into the difference between McCandless and true lovers of nature and seekers of adventure. Good Day.
How can you people be so cruel McCandless did nothing but follow his dreams. All that Mike has said about McCandless wanting to die and being stupid and foolish by not knowing how to slaughter and preserve a moose. But Mike i am asking you. would you have even lasted that long in McCandless’ place? would you have been able to survive for even a month? Would you have been brave enough to die alone in the cold, and unforgiving wild, and not even complain about doing so? I dont think you would. and while many people judge McCandless as arrogant and stupid, how many can say that they have followed their dreams and lived a life as full as that of Chris McCandless? How many can say that they really know their true self? And while you Mike may relish in tormenting a dead man? Maybe you are just jealous because McCandless was brave enough to follow his dreams and you are not. and all those who say he tortured his parent that doesnt make him a bad person. we all make mistakes. Chris’s parents made them and he was jsut learning how to forgive when he died. also people who say that McCandless did not respect Alsaka and the land. what do they know he lived souly off of it for a longer time then any of you. while those who critize McCandless cannot say they have done something more meanigful in their lifetime. what about him makes people so angry? Is it the fact that McCandless was able to follow his dreams and live a fuller life then most of you ever will?
I just watched that movie this weekend. How depressing it was. He was not a hero, he was not a great adventurer, he was someone who had emotional problems and could not stay in one place for very long. He was as unforgiving and selfish as he could possibly be, blaming his parents for his shortcomings in life and in doing so disappeared into the sunset.
He thought that anything he did would come out alright, he took on the Alaskan Wilderness thinking that it was as tame as the lower 48. He found out differently. When you are alone there, walk 5 miles and you will find people.
When you are alone in Alaska, you can walk a thousand miles and still be alone, cold, hungry and dying.
He thought he could play god with his own life. He lost.
Mike – In 5 days you’ve left 14 comments on this entry, which by itself is no big deal to me, but you’ve also used multiple names (Joe, Anonymous, Rob, Mike). You wrote as Rob: “I agree Joe,” not mentioning that the Joe you were agreeing with was yourself. (As Joe you had previously written: “My last comment on this board!”) In any event, I think we’ve long since gotten your point.
Some folks seem to be makin this more than it actually is. Gotta look at the facts and not what Hollywood wants you to see.
He was a guy who wanted to experience something that he wasn’t prepared for(IMO). I believe there was a fair bit of arrogance considering his privledged back ground.I know many people just the same. Hell, Paris Hilton thinks she is a singer and an actor.
I definately understand Chris wanting to prove something and show everybody, but it appears that it didn’t go as planned. There are correct ways to do things and and wrong ways to do things.Was it a death wish??Maybe so,
Nobody starves themself on purpose.
Should someone follow thier dreams??Yes, but was this a dream or something else? I believe it may be the later.
If he had his ID, money and map, according to the corroners report then something must have went wrong. Could be as simple as not being educated and prepared. I have hunting,fished,camped, been outdoors for many years, i know my limits and what i need to survive.With the few corrects items you can survive indefinately.
To me, he wanted to go on a quest , weather it was to prove something or not. Things went wrong, due to his lack of preperation or education or arrogance. That is it. Writers and Hollywood could make an epic drama of someone spilling milk on the kitchen floor.
Once again i am stating tha facts i see and this is MY opion.
Yes follow your dreams. yes be passionate. Be honest. Live with integrity.Respect others
Call it a suicide, so you understand that a human being still died. Either from some psychological reason, a human being still died and people here should show respect. It’s easy to move your lips and utter stupid crap. This only shows you are heartless. Maybe this is exactly the type of people Chris McCandless was running away from.
I don’t believe it was suicide, I believe it was a combination of emotional problems, naievity, the inability to get along with people and quite a bit of ego that led to his death.
The probability that this movie will make a type of folk hero out of Christopher is what is concerning. It inevitably has from what I’ve heard. He did not know what he was doing nor what he was up against going into the Alaskan bush the way he did.
Unfortunately there have been others like him before that have given up and gone home and others that weren’t so lucky and I hope this movie will not create more. Timothy Treadwell is another example, although a bit more stupid.
Glamourizing not so smart choices is what the movie producers are good at.
if you read about this guys background you will see he trained in this type of activity…he felt he was prepared obviously….there was no suicide or mental illness…well no more than anyone else here..lol..i doubt he worked 24/7 at McDonalds for that college money he supposedly gave to charity..oops bet someone wasn’t too happy their hard earned money went to fund someones vacation in hawaii…as for burning money,why not burn your own clothes and backpack too…how stupid..as for getting away from the rat race and all the violence i believe it does help to go into the wild and shoot a poor unarmed squirrell…oh yea it also helps to capture all that on film too for spiritual posterity…anyway…if the writers intention was to show the way NOT to survive on your own then my hat goes off to him..
suppose it’s only fair to add the guy might have been pretty cool,who knows…i hope we all realize we’re most likely commenting on the writers twist to it all and hollywood…which in itself is also a thought pattern worthy of comment
As i read you all arguing over whether or not Chris is a hero or a fool. I feel i must tell you that you are both correct. Christopher Johnson Mccandless was a fool. Unprepared and fataly arrogant about his ability to survive the Alaskan wilderness. Alexander Supertramp was a hero. Brilliantly courageous and inspiration to many as well as myself. The paradox that was the life of this unique man is what makes him great and greatly flawed simultaneously. I believe the struggle between his will to live and to die became one and the same. The only place he knew that this battle would finally be fought and won was in the Alaskan wilderness. Yes he phsically died and one would assume that death prevailed. Along this journey to death his spirit was liberated from all that bound him to this world. I suspect most of us will never in our lives be so free. Death did not prevail beacause the freedom of spirit that this man experienced now lives on in all the souls of us who dare to believe his journey had purpose. thank you for this gift Christopher “Alexander Supertramp”Mccandless.
Well, there really isnt a lot that I can add to the eloquent things that have been said already, but I must say that I admire Chris’s quest.
Perhaps if people could be happy with the simple pleasures of life, but our society is all about more.
Bless the people who can get past that idiotic materialism and find meaning in nature, solitude and simplicity.
The happiest days of my life were when I was a broke student in college, and a good meal and a cheap glass of beer meant something.
The fact is that both the book and the movie has “romanticized” this guys death, every single day, people die doing things that they shouldn’t because of lack of experience or lack of judgement (which McCandless proved a lack of either) and other than an obit or a short story in their local paper, no one really hears about it.
I lived in Anchorage when his body was found and as I said before, the people who lived and worked in the area had no respect for this guy, he died thats it, he is not a hero.
As far as some of the posts stating that he is was a survivor and he died “beating” the system, well he died for sure, but what did he beat??????? Remember, he died and he died for nothing and he was less than 20 miles from the major north-south highway in the state
The more I read about this hero-worship about someone who failed, the more it disgusts me.
I also was moved by Chris’s story. Speaking as a middle aged man who once upon a time had grandious dreams but gave it up for the 9 to 5 American Dream I give him credit for at least having the balls to become Alexander Supertramp. I think everyone has an Alexander Supertramp in them but only a small handfull have the spirit to let him out for a walk.
Sometimes you have to find yourself before you can find anything else.
McCandless might not have left home to find a cure for Cancer, but his quest was genuine.
He was searching for himself and if he was still alive today he would have achieved many more things than most ever will in their entire lives.
He was planning on getting out of there and continuing his life. All he wanted to do was get away.
How much more beautiful can his story get?
I get a little fed up with all the hard assed Alaskans who constantly ridicule McCandless.
They motor out into the sticks on their quads, with enough food to feed an army, and armed to the teeth. Then they brag about what studs they are to anyone who will listen. None of them seem to have any compassion toward this guy. To understand Chris, you have to start with compassion.
I am a college student and have dreamed of living the life of solitude and adventure my entire life. I am not meant for this world we live in today. Thank you Chris for the inspiring tales that restore my motivation to follow my dreams, wherever they may take me.
It wasn’t emotional problems that drove him into a life of adventures. It was spirit, youth, sense of adventure, invinciblity. Chris was so passionate about what his was doing and reaching his goals. You can’t find passion like that behind a desk. Truly inspiring…a story that needs to be told down the generations.
Question: why didn’t Christopher walk 400 meters south of the trail and see the tram that would have allowed him to cross the river and get out of the bush? I mean wouldn’t it have made sense to walk at least a litte upstream and downstream to check out the situation rather than just hiking back the 10 miles to the bus unless he didn’t really care to cross the river. The fact that he stayed at the bus and seemingly did not try or didn’t die trying to get back suggests that he didn’t want to leave all that much especially if his true character was like in the Hollywood movie — so strong and robust, cross-country runner etc. I can’t help but to think there is a significant contradiction between the character in the Hollywood movie and a character that would have rotted in a bus rather than trying to get back (unless he ate poisonous berries of course and his his health quickly deterioted and that was a mistake that cost him his life). Otherwise, starvation is not a quick death and he would have had opportunity to at least try to get back and walk the 400 meters south of the Stampede trail.
oh, well I don’t think this one will ever make sense….
maybe those closest to him know in their hearts Chris’s mindset and have insight into why he acted as he did and made the decisions he made… I am now officially done my research on this matter as there really doesn’t seem to be anymore revealing information on it….. (the rest is hype like Christopher wanted to get away from… ironic again, ha,ha
when he got back to the bus after not crossing being able to cross the river he wrote in his diary that he was scared and lonely yet he didn’t try to hike back and explore 400 meters to each side of the stampede trail. Then after many more days he got really weak and eventually died. Sounds like he was depressed and hence didn’t try to get back to civilization because he had a lot more opportunity to get back then is usually pointed out. Can’t help but to think this points in the direction of suicide. Sorry, many probably won’t like this view but based on the facts we know (and not speculation and emotional hype), this sounds like what happended.
I was struck by two things when I read the book. Chris Mccandless must have been a pretty special guy. It seems everyone he met along the way was very affected by him. What really touched me about the story was the relationships he made on his journey. That’s what took hold of me emotionally. It was a struggle though, because on the flip side was his relationship with nature. As an Alaskan, my knee-jerk reaction was the same as all the other alaskans that you hear from on these boards. In my mind I was calling him all the same names that you’ve already heard.
I live in a small village on the bering sea coast of Alaska. Most of us hunt and pick berries in the summer. A large percentage of my village gets some sort of government assistance. Without that government assistance many families would not be able to eat. I’m lucky enought to have a pretty good job out here so I can afford to go out and be with nature, whether its out on the sea or on the tundra. At $5.35 a gallon for fuel its almost getting to where people out here can’t afford to get out there. People who don’t understand will say “Get up and walk out there.” I’ve read people who don’t understand what its like blast us and call us lazy for using boats or snowmachines to get to where the game animals are. The thing is, its not like it used to be. 4 generations ago, my relatives were nomadic. They followed the animals. Living off the land is not an existence where you have the luxury of living in one geographic location.
Through the year I am able to eat moose, fish, ducks, berries, greens, and many other foods that come directly from nature. But I also eat fried chicken and drink diet pepsi. Things are not like they used to be and they never will be again. I understand part of what drove Chris because I used to feel very similarly when I was younger. When I was able to accept that we live in THIS world TODAY I was able to find some sort of peace for the part of me that cried out for the way things WERE.
Most of us didn’t know Chris McCandless. For some reason many of us feel very strongly about who he was and what he did. So strongly that perfect strangers on anonymous boards like this one fight and bicker and call each other horrible names. Chris McCandless died. That’s all. He didn’t die because he was an idiot. He didn’t die because he wanted to. He died because he was unlucky. Generations ago my relatives lived totally off the land. They grew up hunting and fishing and moving from site to site looking for their next meal. They knew how to do it. They grew up doing it. But MANY of them died of starvation. Many of them. The things is, people, nature doesn’t care if you know what you’re doing or not. Nature doesn’t care if your intentions are pure and noble. If you are searching for a greater truth. Nature just is.
Well I am not here to argue with anyone but I have been out in the cold and spend many weeks in nature, without modern conveniences but to answer your question no. I have not been in Chris McCandless’s exact position because I would not allow myself to be put in that position. When I hunt, fish, and spend time in nature it is not a foolish spur of the moment thing. I plan for weeks at a time. I take good maps of the area, proper clothing, sleeping, and camping materials and I know how to skin a animal and preserve it if I must. Always bring salt along for the preservation. But I also bring plenty of dry food and bagged food. But I am not here to prove to you I can survive because I have but it seems that people will believe what they choose to believe. Sean Penn and Hollywood made a movie and all of a sudden a disturbed kid is a heroic figure for others to model after. I guess it takes all kinds to make up the world. But the truth is much more depressing and sad than all you Chris McCandless followers will ever admit. Your hero was a fool! He died needlessly and he was no friend of nature. He poached a beautiful animal and wasted it. He had no respect for nature. What McCandless did was either the actions of a desperately mentally ill man or the actions of a stupid, arrogant, person. So am I cruel. I ask the board this question. Am I cruel. I say nature was much more crueler to Chris McChandless. All of you who follow this sad soul need to understand that Chris did not die a peacful and blissful life as the movie would have you believe. You read up on starvation and what it does to the body. It’s not a fast death nor is it painless. That is why I feel McCandless was mentally ill. I can’t imagine a human being allowing themself to die without trying to save themselves. Toward the end hunger does make you not want to do nothing but hunger is a strong desire and he had to have feelings, early on in his starvation, to get out and find food but he refused to do so! That speaks of horrible arrogance or terrible mental illness. I feel sorry for all who think Chris McCandless was anything mroe than a tragic fool. Good Day.
First of all it’s a movie and it is told in biased of both the books author and the movie producers. Even though into the wild is more factual than those famous “based on a true story” movies that sale so much in hollywood it is still a dramatization of Chris McCandless life. I can point to one outright lie in the movie right now. The movie proclaims Chris had eaten poision berries and died because of the plants. No poisions were found in Chris McCandless body. The official cause of Death was starvation. I am sure Chris was a super nice kid and many probally did like him but Chris McCandless did not die because he was unlucky. If you die in a plane crash that is being unlucky. Some times if you die in a car crash thats unlucky. If you try and fly a plane without the training that is stupid. If you drink and drive thats stupid. I don’t know if Chris McCandless was mentally ill, I think he was, but if he was not mentally ill he was stupid. My last comment on this board is above. It seems like people believe in stupid things and believing in Chris McCandless as some one with a higher purpose is a stupid thing to believe. Chris is dead, his parents are forever tortured, and no good what so ever came of it. But the fools in this world will continue to paint a pretty picture out of a tragedy. Instead of trying to figure out where they missed Chris’s mental illness they try make him and his plight into some God like meaning. Perhaps it is guilt that causes people to do this. There guilty because they did not see the utter hopelessness and mental anguish of Chris but what ever it is it does not help others who might suffer his same plight. This is a tragedy not a heroic quest. Stop painting it as anythinge else. Good Day, and Good Bye.
It is funny how people believe something because it is in writting or in a book. They even believe it more when it is in a movie and called a biography or a “true story”. In many cases the definition of truth is very liberal. Good Day, and Good Bye.
“if you want something in life reach out and grab it”
I think chris lived his life following this sentence and that’s what is so amazing about this story. Life is too short to spend it on nothing.
This story made me change my life and follow my dreams. For some its mountain climbing or sky diving but for him it was alaska and i admire him for conquering his dreams. Its something that most of people will never conquer. Sean Penn did absolutely great job with this film but I’m not sure that was right thing to do, i think chris wouldn’t have wanted film companies to make millions with his death.
He made many mistakes by hurting his relatives but his purpose was pure and great and that’s worth of admiring him.
Had the story been totally fiction, I would have been “touched” in the same way, not necessarily agreeing with all and admiring all. The story just simply enhanced or added to my current thoughts about my life, the choices I make, the mistakes I make, the chances I take, the fun I have, that not so fun I have, the challenges I face, my “headiness”, the people I meet, the sometimes difficulties I have with relationships, and on and on…I choose to admire this young person.
Who the fuck are you to say this young man, Christopher, was not very intelligent. I think you are not very intelligent to judge this person. Do you want someone to judge you’re life based on intelligence? I bet if there was a contest – you’d lose mother humper, because you suck.
He did the best he could, and was searching a battle you simple mind probably couldnt understand, lame-ass.
And you are a bad person to think otherwise.
I’ve got a bus in Alaska that I want to sell timeshares to.
Very nice, it was brought up here by homesteaders in the 70s and only has one window missing. The woodstove is cracked on the bottom but if you put a pan underneath it will catch the ashes. There is a bed frame but no bed, no toilet facilities, but you can build an outhouse. It’s really a very nice old school bus that is a fixer upper. There are only two small streams and a few lakes that you have to cross in the winter to get to it. Summers are no good because there are too many bogs and swollen streams to cross.
Only 600.00 a week for this vacation of a lifetime.
In 1980 I was him. I felt the same way and had plans to travel to Alaska with a friend and live off the land. We were experienced campers and hikers and knew hunting and fishing. By 82 the dream was still there but reality had set in. My friend decided he was no longer interested and we went our seperate ways. In 1986 I did make it to CO & CA. During that trip of nearly a year I lost 30lbs. I also worked, had my own apartment and paid the insurance and registration on my pickup. I know it’s not the same as living off the land. It was the best I could do at the time. Toward the end I often thought of just turning north to Alaska. Deep down I knew my plan was suicide if I did it alone and unprepared. A book by Jack London or books on survival do not tell the whole story. You need training to survive. I had far more than Chris and I knew it wasn’t enough. Yes he made it 182 days. He is now dust. The pioneers and mountain men of years past were used to a hard life. They knew how to hunt and store food. They knew trapping and had the skills to survive. Chris didn’t. He was 24 for crying out loud. Yes he may have had a happy life to that point. Who can say if he had survived what his life would be like now? I am sorry but he was foolish. If you are going to do something like this do it right.
Lisa Warren, It is quite interesting how people turn to profanity to criticize someone’s comments or knowledge. Mike’s comments were pretty much on the nose.
Jason, as an Alaskan I respect your comments, however your ancestors had far more knowledge than Chris. They spent far longer than 182 days in the wild before they starved to death. Most did not. Most of the ones who did were incapable of helping themselves.
I realize that Chris spurned civilization. However even the mountain men knew they had to learn what to do or die. One of the first things most did was to erect cabins. They also made sure to do it near game trails. Again knowledge is the key. If Chris really wanted to survive and was not foolish he would have at the very least stayed in Fairbanks for several months and learned all he could.
From mike “The movie proclaims Chris had eaten poision berries and died because of the plants. No poisions were found in Chris McCandless body. The official cause of Death was starvation”
He obviously died from starvation, however, there is always the possibility that on top of the starvation, he ingested berries, seeds or whatever that caused major gastrointestinal upset not related to toxicity , in which he made an association…smart logical think process whether right or wrong.
I refuse to eat black lentils, they tear my stomach apart “big time”, at least that’s my assumption. Perhaps at the same time I had eaten the lentils a stomach “flu” bug was stirring within….I will never no, but no more black lentils for me.
For that matter, on top of starvation, he was physically stressed that in the end made him more vulnerable (immunocompromised) to in laymans’ terms to a “stomach bug”. Once I had the flu…was off work for 4 days not wanting to eat or drink (lost 10#). Before that I was a person that proudly proclaimed I never called out sick to work. Can’t image starving and coming down with a bug or adverse reaction to something at the same time.
Because it was written and turned into a movie, people believe that a person is something special, above all others and what they did was perfect. That bus is not a shrine, it was a trap and a coffin for a young man that did not know what he was doing. If that bus hadn’t been there Chris might not have found living off of the land quite so “comfortable” and he probably wouldn’t have stayed long enough to die. He would have gone back to civilization as I’m sure he planned as he always did before from what I’ve read. When I hear or see comments written the people want to make a “treck” to that bus it blows me away.
People are so weird, they turn someone into an icon that did nothing but go out and die. People do that every day, if you want to make an icon out of a dead person, please make sure that their life actually made a difference to people and were a good example to follow.
The author of the book is doing a good job of making money off of gullible people, isn’t that supposedly one of the reasons Chris left mainstream society? The movie stands in the same category, Sean Penn and the movie company are doing pretty well from their exploitive movie.
A book and especially a movie are partially fact but mostly fiction to fill in the missing information that is there. Would Chris have wanted people making bookoo bucks off of his “quest”? I think not.
He was not an icon he was just a regular joe, and had done a whole lot less that many people who didn’t die for their scoffing of society. And he probably would have told you the same thing himself had he lived.
The people who feed into this are the ones that Chris McCandless loathed.
Why didn’t Christopher find the tram just south of where he couldn’t cross the river but rather hike back 10 miles to the bus, where he lived for about another 42 days and reportedly not try again? It seems like he didn’t want to leave the bush eventhough right after he got back from not being able to cross he recorded he was so scared, lonely, depressed etc. There is no further mention of him trying to leave rather he decided to stay at the bus. I am sure this is baffling to anyone with a stable mindset. It seems like he committed suicide and I see many others agree which is shocking given that suicide is considered one of the most extreme acts a person can committ (obviously). I think that fact that so many people believe he essentially committed suicide says a lot. Hollywood has only sensationalized the story to sell it as it often does. To me this is mostly a sad story stemming from a past of personal and family problems. At least the movie showed how painful and sad it was for him in the end because I think that really did represent his mindset (full of pain, suffering and confusion that he was trying to cleanse and fix but unfortunately he couldn’t. Oh, unless he did at the very end like the movie shows in that vision in his last breath hugging his parents. Of course, just a moment after that he would hopefully have gone to heaven anyway and all his pain gone as well. RIP Note: I am not blaming him for essentially committing suicide but rather just expressing my view that it looks like he did. Of course, this is a hard pill to swallow as suicide is beyond comprehension for everyone except the most distressed and lonely people.
Ok this is really my last comment. Anonymous I see your point but nothing you have said refutes the autopsy which states no toxins were found in his system. Now perhaps some toxins dissapear rather quick? I don’t know but I would think Medical Professionals would have thought of dissapearing toxins before their official reports. So barring dissapearing toxins I can only conclude the Medical Examiners correct in their diagnosis. Chris died from starvation and not poisioning. No proof of poisioning exist. This is a false assumption made by the movie to partially excuse Chris’s behavior or lessen the pain for his family. Again I say no one, no matter how much they try to claim they do, learns anything from Chris’s death. It teaches us nothing, it accomplishes nothing, it makes no statement other than death. Chris’s action was that of an irrational person and they were stupid actions. Now Chris was bright in the college sense but very inept in common sense. Again I think he was mentally ill and this contributed to his death. I don’t know what to think if he was not mentally ill. His actions really are horribly stupid if he was sane. Good Day, Mike.
Well Mow you can choose to like Chris, in fact I like the kid portrayed in the movie and the book. I am sad that he died. However liking Chris should not equate with approving a bad decision. Have you read some of the comments by the cult like followers on here? These are people, who likely never knew the kid, but believe he did some great thing? Chris died! He Died. He did not die trying to save some one else, or trying to stop poaching, or any other great noble deed. He simply died! He was a tragic figure. His parents were flawed people but they loved him and they will suffer forever. His sister suffers. Yet some of these loons see a positive in Chris’s death. The only positive one takes from this story is to make sure you know how to live in the wild before you go in to the wild. I just despise weak minded cultish idiots who are so desperate for meaning they cling to a sad, desperate, and mentally distressed kid like Chris McCandless. Those same kind of cultish people drunk the coolaid at Jonestown. Their fools and I believe a sane Chris McCandless would say the same. By the way My name is Mike.
Wow! amazing to read peoples thoughts on this matter I watched the movie and right away I knew that it was going to be rather boring but I figured there was going to be some great epiphany or some awesome revelation at end that would relate from the culmination of of chris mccandless journey that would shed some illumination into societies plight. I was grevously dissappointed what he suffered thru and ultimately lost his life to ascertain( to be happy happiness has to be shared) most of us learned by the time we were six years old. Chris was very well educated and obviously an avid reader what took his life to realize he could have read in books he could have studied phylosophy, religion, culture. If he was God fearing he could have found real answers in the bible. Jesus sermon on the mount at Matthew chapter 5 out lines what true happiness is and how to attain it. King Solomon said at Ecclesiastes 12:13 that the whole obligation of man is to keep fear God and keep his commandments. I admire Chris Mccandles Idealism and courage to pursue his convictions and I reserve no judgements against him. However what was frustrating to me was not what he did or how he did it, but istead two things…The sensless demise of human life one that showed much promise and could have been a benefit to society. And the Idolofication and glorification of this young mans death by onlookers. Chris Ideals were ill conceived and his preparation for the task was even worse. Whats frightning is that we have a whole horde of people who admire and are willing to follow a bad example people who actually see him as hero and Idolize him. Chris set out to live off the land in the Alaskan Bush and failed he only survived 113 days and met his demise at a violent end. He did not acomplish his goal and the masses consider this a worthy example to follow? There are others who were and are successful are not these worthy examples to follow? I always thought the wise course of action was to pattern ourselves after those example who are successful. What cost chris his life is common knowlege to most people. It is said that you judge a wise man by how he lived his life and what he leaves behind to grow well it seems that chris made a lot of mistakes and left nothing but folly in his wake. He shared very little and what ever knowlege he gained he took with him thereby nullifying his journey giving it no credence and making it of no consequence. But feel free to follow your passions by all means I entreat you pack a 10 pound bag of rice grab your rifle and journey to the Austrailian Outback or the African Sahara or even the Alaskan bush in the pursuit of enlightenment and self reliance what do I care if you’re successful or you perish. One thing is for certain what ever knowlege, epiphany, revelation or ensight you have found I probably all ready know it and if I don’t I have an alternative method of aquiring it. There are a lot of questions to be asked here a lot!!! regarding this story.
I am French and sorry in advance for my English, but I just want to say something about the story of Christopher Johnson McCandless.
Be respectful of his decision of leaving this society where profits stand for the ultimate target. Do we are really happy in this word in which we need constantly to laugh with liars, hypocrisies, stress and so on…If one can fully agree with that way of life, then you are a great actor of the modern society or I should say a fake world without real friends but just opportunists too much often.
I read some awful comments about him. Is it really necessary to criticize his decision to leave into the wild? This man tried to find happiness he probably found in contemplation of huge landscapes and the pure world of nature, without need of material and ownership. He was unfortunately certainly unprepared for Alaska’s bush and it was not a pleasing WE of fish or a mushroom trek for him but a radical immersion into the wild without human boundaries and laws except the ones of nature.
Please, consider this story as a way to make a reflection about human conditions and your own condition. Do you spend your life to do something you wanted to do? Do you enjoy in it or you just survive in this world?
Some says McCandless died of his inexperience or an unaware suicide. I think he was aware of both and let him go in the way the nature decided. He was probably trying to stay alive and afraid by death but he was also determined to accomplish his goal.
He probably let him died because nobody wanted to share his mind and life. Is there an interest to live alone a long time or just having an exciting life for a short ride?
I do not know why he stopped contacting his family and one does not know as well. Family relations are not the same everywhere. Consequently, one should not have any judgment about this.
I got the highest school degree few times ago and I am now, not afraid to go into the wild, but afraid to live in this modern world where I will have to “battle” everyday of my life to gain what? Nothing indispensable while opening my eyes and my heart.
Finally, I would like to say “the things you own will finish by owning you”.
And please, consider the nature, you come from it!
Yes, there is no doubt Christopher had a tremendous zeal for nature and especially Alaska but giving your life for 100 days of it is not ideal and however twisted his mind was I believe he could have found an alternative way of finding whatever he was looking other than basically committing suicide…… (well the only other option is that he was destined to committ suicide and I do not like to think anyone is born into this world to do so and that there is always away to avoid it).
did Christopher have any close friends other than the hippies in the movie that he met shortly before his death? There doesn’t seem to be any reported and he wasn’t keeping in contact with even his family? So he was making a statement that he didn’t need anyone or anything but nature to survive. NO thanks! Well, this is consistent with his revealation that he recored in his diary — happiness only with sharing. This was a revealation to him because it was so contradictory to his way of thinking and loneliness (otherwise, it wouldn’t have been such a revealation to him occurring only in his last breath). The fact that sharing your life with other human beings was an ephipany to him reflects on his extreme abnormal thinking (of course happiness can only be found by sharing your life and experiences with others! Sad that it got to the point that the only life around him turned out to be game that he desparetly tried to kill! Not nature as I like it and I have hiked very near the location where he died. No, Alaska is magnificient when you respect and appreciate it and at the same time respect your own life that is a gift!
Saw the movie, did a little research on Chris and his short life and tragic death but, I hardly find him influencial or heroic.
Why? because for everythig you do there should have a reason behind it. I can’t think of one good reason why he did what he did, if he wanted to prove something to himself whatever it was, it wasn’t worth his life.
He was a nice guy who wanted to live free and unfortunately he wasn’t smart enough to survive. His death didn’t prove anything, his story doesn’t teach anything or help anybody, there is no lesson here.
You want heros? look for all these young soldiers who risk their lives for their country, most of them don’t have a clue why they are there. They kill or get killed without knowing for sure if what they do is right or wrong, all they know is that they are asked to do a job for their country and they do it.
Well, I know that many of you guys think that the adventure of Christopher was selfish, unprepared, etc. But if you think a little, you will understand why did he did that, and why did he fight for it till the end of his days.
Happiness is something that we MUST seek, and each of us will reach it with different objectives. He had this objective, and he made it become real… I’ve read here somewhere that he had been selfish for his fathers and nhanhanhanha, etc. Why??? He just lived his life tha way he want, don’t you think that selfish was to keep “this” mind at home sitting in his ass??? We cannot choose our sons, we must not possess them, beacause they have their own thoughts and ideas… We must let them live, and of course if my son would take drugs and that shit’s, i would talk to him about it and try to explain him that it isn’t good for him… Another thing that we must had in conscience is that he was no stranger to freedom. He know what he was doing and what was it about…he READ TOLSTOI and understand it god dammit. How many of you can say that you read a book of Tolstoi and better, that you understand it…LESS!
One of the greatest mind of the 20th century…
You don’t belong to anyone, just to your own spirit and who ever try to take it from you, i hope you have balls to say goodbye to that person…
Wow I have had an ephipany! I think I’ll abandon my family and two kids to chase my ideals. Screw em, they can fend for themselves. What a loser this idiot was. Hardly worthy of praise of any type. But hey there is Hollywierd to take us on an epic adventour INTO THE WIERD.
Of course his journey is selfish. It was for HIM. It wasn’t for his mother, father or sister. He didn’t love his sister any less. He went out because he felt compelled to do so. He made some errors but he was only 22 when he left. He was a budding adult learning his way in the world and he had already figured out that regular, hipocritical society was not for him. Kudos to anyone who acts on their dreams. I am to scared to act on mine and I will suffer the end of my days for it but Chris gives me hope that the human race has a chance.
Not all people feel the need to act in order to make others feel good. It is not necessary. If you love someone, they know it. If it is fake love or affection, they know that as well wether they will admit it or not.
I made no comment with regard to toxins in his body.
On top of starvation, you can have an awful reaction to something, reaction being major gastrointestinal upset—- causing severe diarrhea leading to dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, mental status changes, cardiac effects, etc……..double whammy when you are already starving to death and experiencing similar type effects. I would suspect the possibility of some wild plant substance could cause such similar effects as some medications do.
Just because you have an awful GI reaction to something does not mean a tox screen is going to come up positive.
Reading all the anger in people’s emails and nasty words to each other leads me to think that one camp disagrees with the way Christopher basically killed himself and the other is upset because they don’t feel this is a valid reason for others to disapprove of his actions. As much as I think he basically killed himself, I also think he felt extremely alone and unhappy (anywhere except in the bush by himself) I do not blame him but rather feel sorry that he died so young and terribly. What a miserable death he had, slowly annd knowingly being destroyed by starvation. RIP
the other message that many of these emails are saying is Christopher had the freedom to do as he liked including killing himself and I guess the other camp can never really argue against this single point… and the debate goes on and on and always will on this matter….. yes, everyone, he did have the right to take his own life, you are absolutely correct! (However, I consider mine a gift and will do every thing I possibly can to preserve it. While at the same time experiencing great adventures such as when I went to Alaska and hiked, seeing Grizzly bears in the wild upclose etc. ) Wow, it was awesome! But trust me I took precautions as I (like everyone else should) know there was serious risks. Actually, it wouldn’t have been surprising to me if Christopher would have been killed by a bear but then again he did have his rifle that would have scared all but the most aggressive bears. My understanding is that most of the bears in the Denali National Park area are not to accustomed with people and therefore quit shy and therefore a rifle shot or 2 would have scared them off. Although I think if he would have been there any longer into late September when the temperature plummits then there might have been some more aggressive and desperate bears that knew they needed to gain weight for hibernation or otherwise probably not make it through the nasty and very long Alaskan winters (September is also the time when Timothy Treadwell was killed by a bear in Alaska after having survived many summers there but always leaving a couple weeks earlier. Timothy did not have a rifle and never did carry one.
While some people say that Chris was searching for himself, Carine McCandless says that’s not true. “Chris knew exactly who he was,” she says. “He was searching for a place in this world that he fit into, where he could be true to himself. He was searching for truth, purity, honesty. He was searching for the things that he didn’t experience in his childhood.”
did he find himself in that bus..seems to me it doesn’t take going to alaska and living in a bus to look within or find solitude to look within..does it to you…or does rebellion and anger with a little ego mixed in(hence the pictures for later) make more sense…seems obvious that abusing money,abusing family cleary points to one thing
I’ve read a lot about this young man and as is typically the case the movie is an exercise in melodramatics. I don’t think anyone really knew him. In his youth he seems to have had the kind of unfettered zeal that draws more questions than answers. His quest didn’t seem to have a purpose other than to meet his own need to exist. Unlike most of us, I have to believe that he didn’t think it was important to leave anything of value behind. He isn’t a hero because in the end he didn’t really accomplish anything.
Do you accomplish something of your life that could inspire a movie? I don’t think so.
A good book and a good movie talk about him even after his death but it won’t be the case for you.
Actually, you say McCandless was nothing but you, who you are?
Is your life better?
McCandless wanted to be away from people like you as I try to be !
I too journeyed into the wilderness, spent 6 months on the Appalachian Trail and then lived in the Shasta Trinity National forest. I faced some dangerous situations and could also have made a mistake–thank God I had my dog with me to take care of and ground me.
I feel Chris had a strong “life wish,” a wish to live, feel and ultimately, forgive, love and be united with humanity.
This movie asks me to look at my life: Am I leaning a little too far in the attachment to habit, routine and material concerns? Am I nourishing my spirit? What resonates for you? Have you gone too far in the other direction? Even an astronaut wants to return to earth and share in humanity’s hopes and dreams about space. “This is Ground Control to major Tom.”
There is a poem about a person who has a terrible thirst and will travel miles for water. The thirst is compared to love, which people will travel miles for to get just a little taste. I believe Chris had that thirst in his soul and was searching for the medicine that would enable him to find that within himself; forgive; and come home.
His story now reminds me of Hamlet, who felt betrayed by his father, troubled by his mother and was accused of madness. Hamlet who was young like Chris and in Existential crisis. Another Shakespeare quote: “He loved not wisely but too well.”
Does anyone detect a note of jealousy in that often quoted article from the Alaskan ranger? We were about the same age, he says, starting the article by comparing himself to Chris. “I did everything right, everything careful, I follow the proper rules” he seems to be saying. “And now he gets all the attention.”
It’s admirable for this ranger to work hard to make his dream of a particular lifestyle he wants come true.
But to me it is just so much more appealing that Chris was striving not for a particular lifestyle, but a soul purpose of truth and authentic living.
Why should this ranger compare himself to Chris, when their motivations are different?
Do you have something negative to express? Is it perhaps because you too have been selfish all your life and you finally have a self to say so?
I tell you what B mol in response to your response to (T) Her lfie as well as everyone eslses lives is worth being recorded for the simple fact that we all struggle and put up a hard fight to function & contribute to a better society while understanding it’s ills. There are plenty of ordinary everyday people who lead extraordinary lives doing the the simplest of things and over coming obstacles and making sacrifices to bennifit others as well as themselves, it’s just not highlighted and reveal to the masses in such melodramatic fashion. I know plenty of people who have endured many things and persevered thru it all with their humanity in tact. I tell you most certainly the world isn’t perfect and therefore society isn’t perfect and never will be ( but what’s the alternative) but it is what is and as live in it we have a choice weather or not to accept it’s ills or adapt and be refined by our expiriences a let them mold & shape us into better human beings.
This refinement process builds strength of character and moral fortitude. All who choose refinement help build better families & better families build better societies. It takes courage knowlege and determination to be of good character and moral fiber amidst a decaying moral decadent society that is corupt. How does one know who they are and what their potential is? Like Chris these things must proven to ourselves or tested as to weather it is so. That being said there must be contrast where there is light there is darkness and where there is good there badness. Society is the contrast or refiner and we are it’s neutral subjects ( we have a choice) the good that is taught or not taught is the measuring stick. Those who measure up to it…well their in lies your heros!!!
So (T”S) life and anyone who lives up to the true standard of goodness who have their character and moral chasteness tested and proven by this wicked society deserves to have a movie or a book produced in their behalf.
Yes that is the person I was thinking of ( Dick Proenneke) he lived in Alaska for 30+ years in the wild. This is a man who was very successful at self reliance away from society…but where is the praise & glory for him where is the movie & book deal. An example whorthy of imitation doesn’t even get an honorable mention, instead is left to obscurity. Why????????
the ranger (s) are saying that there are thousands upon thousands who have done what Christhopher has did but lived because they took a few extra precautions such as bringing a basic map and maybe even a compass! Without, Christopher couldn’t really have left the roadway and ventured off it because he would have probably have gotten lost in the vast Alaskan terrain. Christopher was confined to the road and was lucky (or unlucky some might say) to find the bus because his tent was crappy and not sufficient for the climate. Did he know about the bus from a local. He stayed in Fairbanks for 2 days and I am sure everyone there would have know about it. Certainly it is possible that he knew about the bus before going down the old roadway known as the Stampede trail. Correction: many many, many have way outdone his acts by living in the wilderness and hiking in it and finding their way and exploring it rather than hking down an old roadway and staying in an old bus. Sorry to be frank but I think what I have said is true and only based on the basic facts and events that occurred.
Thousand and thousand people went into the wild but how many gave their life’s saving ($24,000) for a gift.
How many did walk across the US during two years?
May be, we do not need a map, GPS, helicopter emergency to be lost into the wild?
May be Chris need that feeling to have a real adventure?
Look at his mind, what he did, what he thought. Look at the deepness of his spiritual research.
Everybody can go into the wild, walk, camp, kill a bear, etc…
How many research a way of life as Chris among the advanturer we have here?
Be super controlled by a super achiever self centered father that considers you just an extension of his narcissistic self like an arm or a leg and then while your still trying to find a small breathing space enough to grew into a separate identity from your father’s idenity which you don’t cater to at all as a life style and then besides you find out it was all a false reality he was having you pay honor to when you discover you weren’t even born illegitimately, is enough to make most anyone feel the need to escape to find their own rebirth and like in the movie he goes through stages of maturing, rebirth, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, wisdom. He did finally find a parent that cared about his feelings and needed him as a separate person but by that time he had matured enough on his own not to need nurturing. I guess some people go to head shrinkers and others fly over the cukoo nest. Chris took to the wilderness and yes it was that painful enough to need to go. He was a very sensitive person well put in the film as being like crystal but was wasn’t even considered much by his over bearing father as a human being with his own needs, feelings and desires. Emotionally he felt like his parents, particularly his father was sitting on him to the point he was unable to breath and grow. I know I’ve been there and it doesn’t get better until your able to escape. Forever!
given his resources his journey was restricted to the stinky bus and roadway otherwise his chances would have been almost zero to explore the seemingly limitless Alaskan wilderness as he would have probably got lost, froze, starved sooner because no stove in the bus and shelter, etc. Maybe Christopher had enough sense to know this and that is why he stayed in the stinky bus and on the roadway rather than exploring more remote areas. I think the stampede trail is one of the more travelled paths especially in the winter for snowmobiles and especially because it is so close to the town of Denali that is the prime tourist spot in Alaska and right off the main highway.
life can get rough…anyone will agree…do you take it out on your sister…your mother…do you burn money rather than give it to a homeless person….was that money (24k) even his to give away?…was it ever established that he even earned that college fund money himself?…did he give away someone elses money?….some say he has a right to do with himself as he chooses and that isn’t selfish…isn’t it?…no one walks alone in this world…to try to walk alone IS selfish..it’s the purest form ..hence the word SELF-ish…anyway now for my theory…he was spoiled…got anything he wanted..was even offered money to go to a nice college..many would do anything for that opportunity…he had a huge ego and thought he could do anything and wanted to prove it…why else would he take pictures at every corner of his trip if not to come back and say “hey look at me”…can anyone say “karma”?
your right he was basically restricted to the road and the bus given he did not have a map of the area and other basic camping gear and therefore could not have hiked, camped and explored the wilderness like other campers do…
how much further does the old road known as Stampede trail go anyway or was he at the end of it?
Well, I guess he could have ventured off a bit from the road but not much or he would have risked being lost in the middle of no where… It is challenging enough even with a map and compass sometimes to find your way in the bush!
Chris died while doing what he thought that he wanted to do.
You can’t fault him for that. He didn’t do anything to be considered a hero or someone that people should model their life after.
He died for the mistakes and assumptions that he made by going out into the Alaskan bush the way that he did.
I fault Penn and what’s his name, the author of the book, for making it seem that his life was something to use as an example of how unhappy people should want to live.
Chris was basically a loner and left anyone that actually started caring about him and sort of used them for his own means when he needed to.
There are a lot of better examples of people who have lived their lives the way they wanted. The difference is that they didn’t die doing it and someone didn’t write a book about them. Someone won’t write a book about McCandless followers either. Their’s a reason they call them fans – short for fanatic –
Some of you are really stupid monkeys with your borings comments.
You are just dead persons walking and nothing else. Please return to the school and try to get knowledges. Although, I think you won’t be smart a day.
I do not want to increase the level of the conversion. It is useless.
I agree with comment 431 – “Summary”. Well said. I might just add that their are a lot of amazing movies documenting
people who have lived their lives the way they chose to and in a manner that was often radical and at odds with society’s conventions. Some of these movies are actually fairly accurate accounts of the real events and not too badly sensationalized in attempt to sell the movie and make a lot of money
sorry you don’t like others comments and have to critisize others comments, insist yours are correct and call people stupid monkeys. Your right such trash is useless… Why don’t you try to respect others views and just comment on the movie and topics rather than critisize others views? Do you not see what you are doing or do you have too much of a self centeredness and ego to see it or admit you are wrong in doing so…. Your attitude is poison (plain and simple)
It is amazing, we have people here who say the life of McCandless was nothing and nothing more than their own. You say there no interest to make a movie and a book of his life. He was charismatic more than most of people in this world !
I do not want to live as him but I am respectful. He did an adventurous travel and it is interesting to study his quest !
I do not want to study the quest of every common people that go to the work, home, and return to the work. I do that very well and no need to hear more about this. I cannot support the fact we can make a good movie and book with this kind of story !
It is the reason why there are a movie and a book about him !
Sean Penn, Vedder and Krakauer produced this movie not only for money as I think they have already too much.
I only find CRITICS here and no respect. American filmmakers of Hollywood and Co. produce 98% of shit and 2% of good movies, that is the case for “INTO THE WILD”. We have the opportunity of watch a good movie ad to discuss, and I only find bad critics !
All filmmakers earn lot of money with their shit ! They do not need to be inspired by a true story to do that. There are enough idiot americans and others to watch the 95 % of shit and let the filmmaker to earn lot of money.
I don’t think people are disrespecting Mccandless or being critical of him per say. I think we were all shocked at the morbid waste of intelligent life that if he had lived to conclude his journey he had the possbility of fully having a much more profound effect on all who wittnessed his account. Second of all his journey was inconclusive (what did he do?) he traveled as a vagabon, he hunted game in the wild, and he died on a bus. On to my last point and here is where the perceived criticisim comes in, IT is peoples inept attempt at Idolizing Mccandless as some kind of hero that I believe is most frustrating, those are the issues that I perceive. I truly don’t believe many people have an issue with Mccandless himself but rather how we the general public have reacted to his story, because a person has the right to live their life how they choose.
I think we all can certainly admire and respect Mccandless for first having the insight to have Ideals and then having the conviction to pursue his Ideals and getting people to think about their role in society or not. We can all appreciate that.
There have been plenty of people who have done similar things some successful and some not, Buhhda, Ganhdi, Dick Proenneke, Timothy Treadwell just to name a few but all these people did much much more than Mccandless did and would have done possibly had he lived.
Heroisim to me is Shindlers List, one mans actions to save others a whole nation in fact at the most devastating and horrible time in human history
Basicly the movie and or book is an observation of the pursuit of Mccandles Ideals and the events in his life nothing more nothing less, designed to invoke thought and debate.
The movie lacked any real substance that would invoke change and substantiate that change with profound evidences.
I found that Chris McCandless has inspired me to live life to the fullest! To not live with any regrets and go day by day stewing on how much we hate someone! The book “Into The Wild”, has very much so inspired, many lives and has brought to people’s attention that we were given our lives to live, not to sit on the couch for the day doing absolutly nothing! People need to get out more and fit time in to take adventures and step out of their comfort zones! This book is an amazing story! And yes, people have their own opinions about it but here’s mine!
Thanks for you comments “Wake Up”, I appreciate your point of view because there is a feeling in it. I will try to answer you in English even if it is not my langage.
You are right, McCandless is not an example because we all want to stay alive and he died. He is not a hero and the movie does not promote McCandless as a hero I think.
(In fact, what is a hero? certainly not those “Machine gun man” embedded in Irak as I read. Most of them are engaged there because they wanted to kill Arabic and the others are poor americans without any perspectives in their life. They just needed a job and they were lucky !!! the army kindly find one for them. It is better for the american government to have them killed in Irak than as a killers of gangs in american streets.)
McCandless wanted to feel free that all we want. He was in his manner !
Everybody woulld like ot earn lot of money. How many sacrifices to get it? So much. People are nasty and they need to be opportunist to succeed in getting money. How many liars between persons at the work to get a better job in a company? a lot. Consequently, is the relation between people better? I don’t think so.
Then MacCandless gave his money because he knew that generate a “big disapointement” and misleads between people.
Do we need a big american car with a big V8 and lot of pollution with? I don’t think so. McCandless did not want a new car to respect the planet. No more car, no more pollution, etc…
Of course, we almost all want lot of money, a big luxury car, a big house,etc…but the profits destroy the planet and relations. We are all aware of that but we continue to provide our contribution in destroying the world ! unfortunately me too !
C McCAndkess wanted to be away from this world and he looks like an allien for some of writters here. He is not for me and I undestand his feeling. He was respectful for all. Be respectful for him. His action was certainly extrem that make him so charismatic. In what he did, I appreciate him because he wanted to be extemely honest with him and the others. He tried to find the hapinees in his devotion to the nature and may be he found.
The end of his life is a “contreverse” as his relation with his parents. We can not have any judgment on that point as relations in a family can be extremly difficult.
He was probably obseded and determined to accompish his action until the death. He was also certainly afraid by death as a human being and also wanted to come in the civilization he flees to share his quest. But , people mind was the same before and after his departure, so he would have found the same society. In consequence, it is possible he let him died, we can speak about a suicide, into the wild, in this world where there is no liars, no profits, just the beauty, “purity” of the nature, the contemplation…..and so many things we certainly can not feel.
I think it is reasonable to assume that Chris knew about the bus before he arrived in Alaska. I think he probably decided on that region of Alaska because he’d read about the delapidated bus on the Stampede Trail. The works of Krakauer and Penn assert that McCandless happened upon the bus as a matter of chance, but I doubt that was the case…
OKay Chris went for his dream, thats great, but he didnt contact his loved ones, his sister, parents. he was trying to be happy, but was he happy when he died, did he give any happiness to any of the people he knew. his mind was full of all that “finding himself crap” . how many people leave the world to find themselves. according to me Chris was one overconfident guy, and at last when he lost all ways to go back, he wanted to leave that place, he must be very scared, it was a sad and tragic end of a beautiful life which could be enjoyed so much
Well, no fence sitters here. But how about some common courtesy and mutual respect. We all can recognize something
in this “story” that reflects upon some obviously strong opinions that each person holds after reading the book or seeing the movie. But those are not nor should they be definitive. Each is the creative work of someone interpeting Chris’ life from the slimmest of information on anything other than the immediate objective facts. No one can or should judge Chris’s motivations to live the way he did. Your personal opinions are just that- personal and have squat to do with how or why he chose to have an adventure. And then lets graph it out on the “good/bad”, right/wrong. Waste of effort. And your insights are about as deep as can be expected from a generation that spends more time in cyberspace than doing anything substantial. To few of you would or could even take the chance to try a pass/fail test of your beliefs that might have such an outcome.
Sorry-now i’m getting preachy. He how about sharing insights instead of opinions.
I met “Alex” the spring of ’92 in Washington State. He was around for just a few days and was as often quiet around folks. Only once did he go into any detail about his adventures in our conversations ;and its was only when I had volunteered a story about how I ended up in the NW enroute to Alaska a couple of years earlier. He shared some about the previous times spent in the desert and how he was headed north as soon as he had rounded up his resources.
Partly as a result of this conversation, I ended up going north to seek a fishing job that summer. And after many trials and partly living off the land, I ended up living in Juneau when I wasn’t gone fishing. It was there at the Alaskan Hotel that I became familliar with the “character who lives with bears”.
In the fall when Treadwell would show up, the concensus of the caucus of bar regulars would be that Mother Nature had again missed a chance at natural selection. One of the first adjustments any one needs to make up North is that People aren’t exclusively at the top of the food chain. Mama bear can take you apart with little effort or any remorse. And death isn’t selective, but it is oppportunistic.
And Treadwell was obviously more than half a bubble off plumb. Compared to Chris- he (Treadwell- ex junkie) was getting off on the rush of survival and full of himself. He was a gambler that kept getting lucky and started to believe the bears held him in some kind of regard.
Chris was a reader- we shared an interest in Jack London. It seemed he was attracted to the idea of experiencing “nature”, living contemplatively and actively. And seemed most comfortable dealing with others one on one, or a few at a time.
I didn’t even realise that “Alex” of the book was the same person I had met. Years had passed -details get fuzzy. But I don’t forget faces and it was that color photo at the end of the movie with the red hair and the facial expression I have met dozens of people who say they are going to do something anytime now and never seem to get enough momentum to break the enertia of everyday life. I was that way up to the moment I left for Alaska. And it was partly because of his influence, that I finally did.
I have met many other folks that have had great adventures- all drawn to Alaska.
In Seattle, while visiting friends; at Pike’s Place I met two Argentines who had biked all the way north depending on the generousity of those they met and from the sales of their self-made cards of photos they had taken along the way. After a fund-raising pot-luck, they headed north to the Alcan Hiway. Later that summer in Alaska, I was introduced to a German couple who had ridden their bikes up the Alcan. Although they hadn’t met the other two they did remember seeing them. The two Argentines had distinctive collages of Christ mounted to the handle bars and thr germans were totally confused by this.
Alaska draws the dreamers and the adventurers- Jack London himself was part of the Gold Rush to the Klondike and much of his best known writing, years worth of work and income came from mining those experiences and the stories that folks shared there.
During my years up north; I survived being swept overboard, had a gaping shark’s mouth suddenly break surface below the king salmon I was trying to land from the cockpit of my fishing boat ,had a handgun pulled on me when I tried to intervene in a bad domestic scene of a neighbor, almost suffocated in an empty fish hold that a freon leak had displaced all the oxygen, and waking up below decks of a sinking fishing boat and having to find a way out in the dark with water waist high and rising.
And the other 99.9% of the time was spent alternately feeling blissed out or amused at my good fortune to live an interesting life by choice.
I also had another motive- I was ex-military and likely to be recalled. I was less than surprised that Bush Ist was willing to use our military for whatever reasons (Gulf War1) and that most of you goomers would go for it if they hit the fear buttons in the right sequence. And this was the next new big thing now the Russians were out of the cold war. I didn’t trust Clinton not to need to look tough on the job either and hey its hard to get official mail without an address.
I have a brother- a half brother as he and his sister are specific- who volunteered for service in Iraq. Do I agree-no. But I do respect that he , for the best of intentions, chose to do so. Not that it was/or will be the best use of our money and efforts to win friends and influence people in the MId-East.
Couldn’t have done a worse job, if you tried…
And any other right winger Pro-Bush should go as well. Follow up that hot rhetoric with thoughtful action. And all you Call of Duty Fans- can’t beat the real thing…
I agree with “Wake up” and just because people disagree with the way Christopher basically killed himself doesn’t mean they are being disrespectful. I mean, I think Christopher himself would agree that he would rather have avoided his miserable death… (otherwise, he wanted to die and yes we should respect that; however, absurd and seemingly wastful suicide is. I guess everyone has the choice to take their own life; although if the person is not of sound mind then I guess they arn’t and that’s were hospitals come in and medication… etc.)
If a person is not of sound mind and/or is harmful to their selves, then by law they can be constrained to a hospital and medication etc. (similar to if a person is harmful to others, homocidal etc.). Unfortunatley, many people don’t get the help they need before their are terrible consequences…..
it’s a shame he died so young and unnecessarily…..
obviously he was extremely unstable minded and lonely and didn’t get the help he needed only realizing he needed to reach out and share his life/thoughts/feelings when it was too late in his last breath. Very very sad story…..
I just watched the movie and thought it showed a young man trying to grow up and find his way and I think so many people can relate to this exactly because it was so ordinary up to the point where he launched himself into the Alaskan Range (oh, and of course, the giving away his money). When about his age I myself trekked to B.C. and lived there for over a year and have returned there many times since. I have also explored all over Alaska including locations very near where Christopher was. Most people have never been to Alaska and many havin’t even been to B.C. but they should go as they are among the most beautiful, awesome places on the planet! These locations are majestic, pristine, and offer panaromic landscapes only understood by being there. These locations represent the last frontiers on this planet where nature reigns supreme as was once the case everywhere. These locations make people humble and understand their lives better. When exploring these places just remember to take precautions and you will have an awesome time you will always cherish.
yes, it is most difficult to explain the impact on the senses that visiting and staying within such extreme examples of nature and wilderness has on a person as I have realized when explaining to people about it who have NOT been to such places. I guess it is kind of like explaining colours to someone who is blind. It is difficult if not impossible to convey how awesome it is being there; you have to experience it and when doing so it is humbling to me and many others. Why?
I don’t know? Maybe, it is because when you are in such an environment only then it becomes obvious that we are part of nature and rely on it and subject to it (in many ways) and NOT just a part of civilian life that claims (and often succeeds) to have dominanted nature. Of course, there are some trees around and some birds in the city and patches and signs of magnificient nature and if you live out of the city and in the country then maybe you see quite a lot nature (as Alaska isn’t the only place); however, I don’t get the sense of nature until I go to a place a little more in the country rather than city…
If you are not humbled by being in a wilderness setting then so be it. Everyone is different. I myself like the experience and benefit by it in my own ways.
we are only part of nature like all the animals and life in it, but often people do not see this when they are in the city or close to it. Rather, people often think people are dominant and have conquered nature and don’t think much of it (take it for granted). Of course, people who experience natural disasters etc. are immediately enlightened…. Visiting Alaska and profoundly awesome places is the nice way to realize or be reminded of are roots/ human condition/essence.
Just watched the movie. I always believe the truth is different than the movie. but it seems that in the end in the movie anyway he comes to understand that what he was searching for he already had found in the people he had met.
Sort of the same conclusion that dorthy comes to when she gets back to Kansas.
That sometimes what we are looking for is in our own back yard.
Alaska is a big place with nothing there in much of it. Even among the people who live there there is a saying of “people go missing”
Nature is an uncaring master. The movie protrays a person who is admirable in idealisim, but idealisim does not work well in the wilderness or dictatorships.
yes, in the end it seems like he appreciated things in his life that he didn’t before including people and even his family that was estranged….. (that says a lot!) You know what they say “you never know what you got until it is gone”.. Aerosmith, ya, baby, ya… Unfortunetly, he didn’t have much opportunity to benefit from the new sense of appreciation and wisdom….
Frank. You are a god damn embarassement to your name. What the hell are you trying to say. You make no sense. This kid was an idiot. He went into the wild to die a coward. Although his travels were adventerous, he seemed to hurt everyone he came in contact with. He is no inspiration, just a coward. He had every chance to live and return back home. If his memoires are correct, he only realized what life was about upon his death.
I have read the book at my leisure, and I eventually saw the movie about Chris…and I am left with what may be judgments, but I cannot help feel are simply statements of fact about him
He was –not- a unique snowflake, foraging some ‘new path’ bravely by making his own rules that consisted of ‘declaring Society bullshit. In my own adventures, I have met –many- people like Chris.
He was just another upper-class white kid that was –ashamed- of his affluent upbringing that, ironically, afforded him the time to think about how ‘Society was Bullshit’ instead of doing what other kids were doing: Wondering how the hell they were going to pay for college, or not be beaten up at school or by their drunken single mother or ponder the ‘Ifs’ of being shot at in a drive-by, or which gang to join for protection and companionship.
In fact, -most- people that have to deal with TRUE survival think VERY differently and are often FAR more inspiring. What was his first decision? Who to give $24,000 dollars to. QUITE a ‘character builder’. What was his last? To live in a bus created by the very civilization he declared ‘bullshit’ prior to realizing why MOST people, in fact, do not die by starvation alone in the woods.
I read a story once about a young man who grew up in Harlem, got himself into a community college, and eventually became the Secretary of Defense and essentially turned down the Presidency, and is still alive today teaching and providing. Not many blogs about him. On the other hand, here is a movie, book, and countless blogs and pilgrimages to a man who grew up in a wealthy family and died shitting himself to death in a bus, Canonized because he burned identification he later replaced and cash he later earned again.
Yes. McCandless is one of millions of young, white, -ashamed- males and is in fact in a minority amongst such because most of them at some point realize they are NOT the center of the Universe, and figure out what McCandless never did – though his final entries regarding the lack of novelty of being alone show awareness off: We ARE a communal society.
We did not sprout as a civilization until we became Tribal. Communal. Caves were replaced by concrete structures, skins were replaced by Suits, but it is NOT a coincidence we became the dominant life form on the planet and doing so is not a source for SHAME. The thought of such is NON-sense. Regressing finds no great Truths; its only covering ground already tread upon.
YES, you should know how to survive on your own. There may be a time when grocery stores are closed, and busses do not run. But to defy the logic of what we have become as a civilization, deny its purpose, die for it at 1/3rd our body weight, and STILL cling to that as any kind of ‘right idea’? Asinine.
Live within your means. Love all you can. Plan accordingly to keep doing both…but don’t renounce all we have become over the millennia because you are ashamed you had heat, food & clothing all your life.
Shame of your existence does not lead to nobility. Combining it with a fear of failure in this world (which I believe he did, leading to him ‘creating his own ideal’) leads to the disaster he found—and regretted in the end, by his own writing.
If you want to know about nobility or purpose or shame, talk to a single mom putting her kid(s) through college, or a cop that has been covered in shit and blood defending a stranger for his ideals…not a kid with balls enough to strike out on his own, but not the sense to plan a way back.
You are correct that Chris was not unique one does not need to be unique to have an inspiring story. He did not seek the movie or book so we cannot blame him for his subsequent fame. Also, I believe heros can be either rich or poor.
I find the stories about people overcoming racial and economic hardships to be inspiring as well. I do not see why it has to be either/or. I say make movies/books/blogs about both. If you’re complaint is about the lack of movies about young men in Harlem, then I share this concern. However, I find it wrong to view it as a competition between Chris’ story and theirs.
I wholeheartedly agree with you that communal society has reaped great benefits for mankind. Chris may have agreed with you as he did not intend to stay in the wilderness forever. It was part of his existential journey. While society has its advantages it is not without cost. Materialism and conformity can distract the individual from life’s true meaning.
Many commentators bash Chris for his lack of preparation and label him as foolish. Inherent in this label is an assumption of what the proper goals of life should be. Should we live life constantly trying to minimize any exposure to danger? In that case, anyone who drives on the freeway may be labeled as foolish. Where then should we draw the line between safety and achieving our goals? To me, this is an entirely subjective decision based upon the mentality of the individual.
Chris’ death does not automatically make him a failure. The fact is that we all die and 80 yrs lived in unhappy safety is not necessarily better than 24 yrs lived on the edge. Chris did not seek death but he accepted and confronted the prospect of death in his journey to find meaning and happiness.
For those of you that have read Into the Wild-
You know the passages from different authors Krakauer includes at the beginning of each chapter? How well do you think he chose them- obviously he chose them because he thought they provided insight to Chris’s life, but do you think that these passages are accurate? (From what your impressions of him are anyway because of course noone will ever know how accurate those passages are in portraying Chris…) What kind of insight do they give us to Chris, not as a brave hero, not as a tragic idiot, but as a person? Those are just some of my questions that are kind of hard to answer so I want to know other people’s thoughts!
In my view, choosing to drive on the freeway is much different than choosing to go into the Alaskan plains without the necessary survival equipment/plan….. However, choosing to drive on a busy freeway during rush hour without any driving training and no license may be similar I guess? Especially on the freeways where I live, ha,ha. In short, any one who goes into the Alaskan wilderness not well prepared is tempting fate in a very large way and it really shouldn’t be surprising if something aweful happens…. (this is not rocket science…. and people should use common sense before all if in fact the main thing is first to preserve one’s life). Perhaps the starting point for all this discussion should be a good understanding of what Alaska is really like as most people have never been there I am sure….. Has anyone on this forum been to Alaska?
or anyplace comparable in harshness, coldness, lack of foodness (northern tundra, no fish in the interiour north etc), and packed with the notorious grizzly bears…… If a bear would have killed him even though he had a rifle it would not have been surprising given his lack of outdoorsman knowledge….. (and bears do NOT usually attack unless people don’t take the necessary precautions).
Of course driving on the freeway and going to Alaska are not the same but they are similar in the respect in that risk is taken when doing either activity. It would be wrong to drive on the freeway unprepared because it is difficult to see what worthwhile goal this would achieve and it would expose others to danger. However, entering the wilderness with minimal preparations only exposes oneself to danger. I agree that common sense is often a virtue and taking precautions is usually wise but oftentimes a concern with safety limits the benefits that could be gained from a journey. The best analogy I can think of is people who climb Mt. Everest without oxygen tanks. Sure it is easier/safer to use these devices but I suppose these climbers feel that it takes away from the full experience.
Indeed, the guy is not very bright
Clearly out of his depth,.
You dont respect the wilderness u pay the price.
How great a man he would have been to walk out of that wilderness all that time later and to have achieved something and ultimately learned to forgive and therefore to love.
He died a nobody, 1/4 of a mile from freedom across the river….too stubborn for advice and knowledge. A noble man perhaps in his ideals and his resolute determination….but its not called the wilderness for nothing.
I have sympathy only for his family for the shameful way he treated them..
He’s just a bum,
Point well taken. I am sure you agree then that often there is a very fine line between risky and too risky. Personally, in the past I have had a keen interest in Mount Everest Expeditions (read, watched all the movies/documentaries, researched etc.) and I think many have unwisely and carelessly went too far getting carried away to summitt at all costs and some have lost their lives or limbs and came back a complete train wreck! My understanding is those that try to summit without oxygen are almost entirely extremely experienced climbers/mountaineers that have years of successful climbing experience. Additionally, certainly Mount Everest and particularily the most common route (that almost everyone who attempts it takes) is very well navigated, known, studied, and prepared. For many years now, people have been summitting if they follow certain procedures, have certain equipment, have expert guides, certain level of fitness, and OF COURSE, have luck with the weather! There is a lot that goes into summitting Everest and I think it is safe to say that people doing it half-baked usually don’t succeed.
I understand what your getting at with the idea that reward is proportional to the risk; and therefore sometimes it is worthwhile to take risk even if one’s life is at stake. However, personally, I think it should be well thought out and the risks calculated and my impression is that Christopher didn’t know what the real risks were in the Alaskan wilderness. Going in blindly so to speak and not understanding the risks my give some thrills; however, I think it is even more thrilling when you know and appreciate how great the risks are and deliberately and knowingly overcome them!
Some may think this approach involves too much thinking and preparation; however, in my view there is NO shortage of adventure, thrills, and surprise circumstances and challenges living in the Alaska Wilderness and therefore one should take all the precautions they can to preserve their lives and enjoy it and return to share the experiences with others (ie. you cannot take enough precautions when trying to actually live in the Alaskan wilderness and make it back alive and well).
Once again, has anyone on this forum been to Alaska near where Christopher died? The more I have thought about it the more I am convinced that it is one of the harshest areas on the planet. Even the Grizzly bears have a tough time living there and they have evolved over millions of years to adapt to the climate….. In fact, Christopher would have been directly competing with the Grizzly bears for food and the ground squirrels he mostly ate are key to the Grizzly bears survival in this area. After he shot one, a bear could have smelled it for miles and that’s why I wouldn’t have been surprised if a bear would have caught him off gaurd and attacked him as he couldn’t have been on gaurd with his rifle the whole time he stayed in the bush…. (maybe the bus was sort of secure and difficult for the huge bears to get in… and there was probably an element of luck on his side too…)
Being prepared, not being prepared, taking precautions, not taking precautions, understanding the Alaskan wilderness, not understanding the Alaskan wilderness….
….I do not believe the book is about that.
The book was written out of curiosity to delve into the mindset of Chris, his adventures and travels that ultimately ended with his death.
The truth of it all, we can never delve into someone elses mindset to the extent that we can truly come up with explanations in full (I believe the author John K. would not disagree)…. we experience, we observe, we draw conclusions…..conclusions and perceptions based on our own life experiences and beliefs.
Had Chris survived, I choose to think that he would have…….the possibilities are limitless.
A few years ago, while living in a major city, I had the strong urge to ‘get back to nature.’ As luck would have it I received a job offer in Northern California by the Oregon border. Absolutely CLUELESS I went hiking with my dogs and got lost in the Oregon forest for 5 hours. I finally figured out which way west was as the sun started to go down. I mentioned this at work and someone I worked with started screaming at me, “You NEVER go hiking alone!! Who knew where you were? Do you have any idea of how many people are found dead out here?? I’m search and rescue for God’s sake!!’ Did I learn? Well, not until I was wandering the ‘wild Oregon coast’ and was hit by a wave that washed over me. The tide was coming in with sneaker waves and I couldn’t find the path. My dogs were on leash and were so freaked out they literally lifted me to the top of the mountain, my feet barely touching the ground . Thankfully I have big strong dogs, that once we got to the car were extremely pissed at me and ignored me for the rest of the day, were able to pull me up. Finally I learned my lesson. I went out with guides and learned about wild edibles (a whole lot to learn,) took a survival course that almost killed me….talk about rough…and I had experienced guides with me. I learned a lot about water (oceans, rivers, etc.) My point? I am extremely humble to the forces of nature. When it is beautiful it is really awe-inspiring and spiritual. When it is brutal you can be dead in an instant. If anyone feels the urge to go ‘into the wild’ learn from experienced guides. It truly is an adventure right up to the point when you realize you’re not prepared or you sustain an injury…..that’s when panic sets in. I’m a firm believer in adventure…that, to me, is living. On the other hand, Alaska is something to grow towards not start out at….unless you have one hell of an ego. By the way, experienced mushroom pickers have gotten lost for weeks some never to be found. That’s just how easy it is.
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today.-’Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’-Is it so bad then to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
To put a finger on one reason or another is to hard to judge.. whether it be why he decided to do this. what caused him to, whether it be his parents or himself. Maybe it could have been an over reaction but in my own life i have felt this way myself, as if i had to run away. I have to say fuck anyone who are dumb enough not to understand the feeling or sense that everything is so wrong at one point that you need to do something FOR YOURSELF to make it right. who are you to judge. he took it to an extreme i understand but look at all the other people who take no action themselves who sit there living in a life they hate. i believe in the time he had on his trip he had more life experiences then a lot of us. I dont want to die, i love life and i believe he would not do anything to take back what he had done because to gain the understanding he had in the end he would of never lived a full complete life and i believe a full and complete life is being happy, that moment of happiness that he found which was so deep inside covered by hate and remorse came forth leaving him with a sense of accomplishment. everyone has regrets atleast he only had one.
An interesting story. Read a column by Craig Medred (outdoor writer for the Anchorage Daily News). The column suggested Chris was schizophrenic. Perhaps being alone out there for weeks and weeks with nothing else but the voices in his head for counsel inhibited his ability to make rational choices. For example, why didn’t he look for a better crossing spot on the river when he was trying to leave? If he’d gone upstream, eventually he would have found one.
I don’t understand his purpose for going out there. Why would one need to go to the wilderness to find one’s self?
That being said, many people do what Chris tried successfully. No movies about them, though. What does that say about us?
While here on earth, part of our existence involves asking why and why not. While we exist, we understand, we do not understand, we partly understand, we absolutely do not understand….right now I think I am in need of a caloric source….going for a granola bar….oh no!…which one?
i’ve waited a long time to catch a bus before but that is ridiculous!.. i assume after 2 months he probably started suspecting the driver was not coming back and got totally disheartened with the whole transportation system and wanted to end it all at that point..wouldn’t you?
yes, there are people who sit around and do nothing and do none of their desires, passions, fun stuff, advenutures etc. (they don’t really live life to its fullest or like it should be); however, why look at the bad examples (except to realize we Don’t won’t to live like that):
Tis true it was better that Christhopher die in the bust than of eating potatoe chips on his couch but why choose? After all, there are millions upon millions of people in this world that live awesome, trilling lives full of wonderful adventures and keep living……
Finally, maybe Christhopher’s mind was bent so extremely in the direction that he just had to do what he had to do and their are people like this who do much worse things (even henious crimes, murder etc.) because they just feel they have to (and have no other choice). I like to think that their are usually alternative ways to go; however, people sometimes need some help sorting things out, learning, healing, growing, making good decisions and in the end enjoying life to the fullest… (and hopefully godwilling a much longer life than 24 years old and say around 65, that’s a lot of extra years of living!)
After seeing the movie I was immediately enthralled with this story, and I am not even sure why really. While anyone can argue that his life was pointless, I have a feeling that he lived more than you ever will. You can sit in your little cubicle and point figures about he didn’t contribute to society. He didn’t use his brain for good or whatever other reason that you can come up with. He was trying to break out of that society in which you demand his contribution. He didn’t care what anyone thought, and quite frankly, that is pretty refreshing.
What I personally took from the story is that you have to live the life that you want and find your own happiness. You can’t let people hand you their version of happiness and spend the rest of your life trying fit the square peg of your life into that round hole.
Chris needed to be a little bit more of realist to be successful out in the wilderness, but I think his goal was to break away and that much he accomplished. A send-off letter to his family would have been nice but either way I have to appreciate his drive towards his dream. Is it everyone’s? Of course not. Other people might dream about owning a 7-series or sailing around the world or whatever. Some dreams are inherently more dangerous, and in my opinion, a lot more rewarding. I will conclude with a line from fight club (a movie I don’t particularly like full of idealist propaganda) when they intentionally crash a car.
“You just had a near life experience.”
Reading about or watching experiences are not experiences.
there are an infinite amount of ways to find thrills and get the heart and blood pounding in fear/excitment and thousands to spike all the other senses such as awe etc. without having to take significant risks of ending one’s precious gift of life or having a life-altering injury. I prize life too much to take great risk of losing my life and choose to have experiences that thrill but don’t kill (unless it would be a very rare event). Christopher going into Alaskan wilderness and not being an outdoorsman was too risky in my view (but the fact is he did for whatever reasons and it cost him his life) In this sense, it is really quite simple. If someone else did the same thing, the outcome might be similar as such is fairly predictable….
The life makes sense when it is exciting, full of discovery.
Some of us need to take huge riks to feel something strong and they strongly experience ther life as we will certainly never get on a seat in front of the TV. CMC was kindly involved in his quest and his short experience was really strong. It the reason why so many people are fascinated by his life. Some will undestand why he did such an adventurous travel but the victims of comfort won’t understand his mind. He just wanted another way of life that he knew for 22 years. He faces him in a new experience and unprepared as all we are. The destiny in unprepared experiences is to stay alive for ones and not for the others.
Chris McCandless was a normal human being. he followed his dream, and it lead to his death. sure, its easy for you people to say that he was selfish or stupid or naive, but that was HIM. look at all the people these days who are twice as stupid and selfish as mccandless. if he weren’t dead, would you say he was, instead, brave? or strong? you people are basing your opinions on him because of a stupid mistake he made that took his life. well, lots of people make mistakes just as stupid, and they survive on pure luck, and are looked at in an admirable way. i’m not saying i know chris mccandless, nor am i saying i would ever have the guts to do what he did, knowing i may die, all im saying is, dont judge him if you dont know him. i cant say whether he was selfish or not, but for the sake of my imagination and my sanity, i like to think that he was simply risking everything he had, and everyone he cared about to be happy.
I saw this movie a week ago and have been haunted ever since. It has taken over my thoughts and awakened something in me I didn’t know was there. I guess I never stepped back from myself long enough to realize that we are all in a fishbowl. I respect Chris immensely, whether what he did was naive or brave, he was following his beliefs and his heart. I find myself obsessed with his story, and I am heartbroken by the ending. I guess it’s so tragic that he didn’t succeed. What he learned in the end is very profound, happiness being real only when shared. Although I feel compassion for his family, I believe everyone has their own path. I am dealing with the reality that perhaps I am not on the right one. Ever wonder why sometimes you are numb, surrounded by things that in the end mean nothing? I do. I have a family I love dearly, but I wish it could all be as romantic as Chris Mccandless did. Because he didn’t survive, and died alone doing what at first made him whole makes everything seem a little greyer, maybe a little less than it was before he died. With Chris alive, anything is possible and romanticizing living your dreams and letting go of the materials that surround us seems reasonable. Now a beautiful and gentle person is gone and it breaks my heart.
This forum proves once again that we can always take positive things from any experience/story.
Even the worst experiences in life can be viewed in a positive manner as is proven time and time again by survivals of horrible experiences, victims of crime etc…..
But to me the main thing about the story is that a life was lost in such a predictable and unavoidable manner…. (oh, unless he was destined to die…. If so what a destiny he had and miserable fate, rotting, every so slowly and painfully away).
Is God so cruel (oops that opens up a can or worms!) or maybe we should take something away from the event and that was the reason for his untimely death.
All the evidence indicates that Christopher did not prepare himself sufficiently to ensure survival and he also didn’t struggle much to rejoin civilization and fight for his life…. His dislike for civilization and loner state of being seemed to outweigh everything else in the end…. really sad
Chris Mccandless did something so radical that it cant be appreciated right now. its like movements in art. his was a movement in life, a completely different way of looking at and living life. hes like an artist of life. why does anyone argue he was stupid for his journey and ill prepared. it was his journey, no one elses, so why argue now. chris did what very very few people in this world have the balls to do and that is follow and even create their own path. he threw away what everyone today believes a necessity for life and he was looked on as crazy because people hate change and radical ideas. chris is a revolutionary and an inspiration to any who feel trapped by the virtues of todays society.
I dont’ think Christopher McCandless was selfish, he seemed to be reacting to what he was dealt. Shame on anyone slamming or calling this man names. He may have hurt his family, and he will have to dal with that in the next world. He was naive, yes, but by no means does he warrant your harsh criticism. I was raised, as part of the culture of our tribe, that what you say, will be said about you. Will you like it, when you look down upon those that miss you, and others that haven’t known you are using bad words, and the ones you love have to hear them words, on top of their pain?
Christopher McCandless had a dream, and an idelology, and he lived it. I wish more Americans had such an approach to life. I will not criticize American materialism, but it didn’t suit my family and I when it was thrust upon us. I would never encourage anyone inexperienced to go into the woods alone and unprepared as he did. I do it every year, as part of the hunt, and it isn’t be no means easy.
But he did it, and I think a part of him will forever be happy because of it. That we all should take comfort in. I’m sure the other part of him wasn’t at all happy, but in pain, as he wasted away. Hopefully he made peace with his creator, and he is at true peace with himself.
I’ve read reports of locals criticizing him as well, because it glorified going out into the wilderness, and has become an attraction spot. I hope they realize anyone who copycats this event, knowing the outcome, isn’t utilizng very much intelligence. Blame is a game, just understand there’s a reason why someone would choose to do such a thing.
i will not write a very long detailed message as most have, but i don’t understand why so many people have hate or love for what he did. i’m mostly irritated at the people who bashed him because he “ditched society” or whatever.
what does that matter? some people might paint their nails die their hair black and listen to horrible nu metal music then shoot up a high school as a way of dealing with their “rough childhoods” or inability to cope with society whereas chris just left it all to be alone w/ nature. he’s not a hero in my eyes, but certainly not an idiot. he’s just as great as anyone on this earth who has went for their goal and never gave up. the opinions of him will probably only differ depending on weather you care about the things chris cared about.
I think more oftenly that this world is a childhood. This society becomes more and more riddiculous where referees are not.
I would like to stand as far as possible away from this society while living in it.
In a world corrupted by materialism and superficiality where our relationship with Nature is gradually becoming limited to having a bonsai in the living room or shrieking at a tiny innocuous spider Christopher McCandless is but one of several individuals at loss.
The ideals and the driving force behind this decadent Western World have proven to be deceitful and in the space within which we have to move and survive is becoming tight and asphyxiating.
The vast majority of the populace who has long forsook the pursuit of the opening of the third eye and the true understanding of the ways of Mother Earth has no doubt and readily casts Christopher’s reckless act in the abyss of ignominy labelling with the foul terms of “wannabe hippy” and “crazy kid” which are far from describing the act and the need that brought upon the act itself.
We might not all have the strength to cast away the chains that keep us fettered within a virtual prison, some of us might realize the romantic and idealistic appeal of such a rash and uncompromising decision but few, very few of us, will perpetuate and honour Christopher’s parable in seeking the awaken the torpid minds of men.
In Nature lies truth, in Man’s artificial and self-constructed world only delusions hold sway. Hypocrisy and Lies are but two of the sly regents of our degenerate human existences.
However Christopher’s failure, and that of others, might painfully remind us that Man has been banished from Mother Earth’s womb too long ago for us to hope in a late reconcilement.
Christopher’s epopee was a personal one. He wasn’t a Messiah, he wasn’t a prophet. The choice of a lifetime was his and his only and no one should judge the act of a Man who sacrificed himself (willingly or unwillingly considering the unfavourable outcome) for himself and not for a generation of blind men. Strictly speaking hje wasn’t a hermit trying to prove something to others, he was a simple man who was looking for answers and found them in the words of great men of the past (who in similar ways had forsaken a preestablished and narrow-minded interpretation of life) and in the truth that only Nature can reveal to its closest devotees.
A tale of a man who will be criticized beyond measure, who will be mocked shamelessly by a horde of insignificant men who live their lives with a preordained purpose and cannot understand those who fled such a misleading prison.
If Chris had completed his journey and came back to society as it seemed he might have would people feel the same way about him and or his journey? If chris had returned to society and wrote a book and or movie about his adventure would it have recieved the attention it has thus far? As I have stated others have done what chris did and were and are successful till this day yet no one is inspired from these who are successful at self reliance in the wilderness no one wants to journey and meet them and talk to them or take picture by their home. Chris was not the first to do what he did nor was he successful there were others before him who were and still are successful at living on the fringe of society. If chris had completed his journey and came back to society it suffice to say that he would have been percieved as another crazy man off his rocker like even John the Baptist was perceived. It seems as though his death appears to authenticate and validate his life journey no matter how sound or unsound it was. I ask YOU what is the difference between chris mccandless who failed to fully accomplish his journey and those who did the same as chris but saw their dreams realized and are still living it TODAY!!
I think the reason so much attention has been brought to Chris’ story is because it appeals to every need to break from society and materialistic nothingness that we wallow in every day. I think each of us has a yearning for more, but very few attain that goal, or are brave enough to even take the first step. Yes, there are others who have followed a similiar path and succeeded, and they are equally looked upon as driven and gentle and unique and all of the other traits we ascribe to the people living on the fringe. The significant difference is that Chris DIDN’T succeed, that he was still naive enough to take on this adventure unprepared because he romanticized the undertaking. That is why it is so powerful, Chris was not just an adventure and truth seeker, he was a romantic. And his death hits home with a lot of us, because we always want the dreamer to do well, after all he is dreaming and living for all of us who are not brave enough to take the first step. I think all who do are admirable, but those that do and do not succeed clearly make for a much more heartbreaking story.
in responce to “wake up”…agree totally…the fact is people admire those on some sort of heroic mission and if they die they even admire them more….people are assuming this mcandle person was fighting against the machine of society and died doing it..anyone believing this is truly naive…he was nothing more than another youngster with the world at his disposal thinking he can do with it as he wants and it will always still be there….he was coming back with a fistfull of pictures to prove to his father he could make it on his own……but did he prove that?..this wasn’t trying to rebel against society….could he have ever even gotten that close without the help of his family and others and learning….could he survive w/o clothes and guns or whatever the “society” had to offer…no.
Yes!!! I concur with you, you have captured some of my thoughts in your statement as well. I had posed questions wondering if anyone would ask more questions and arrive at a similar conclusion.
The movie never makes it clear weather or not chris scoffed at society people have come to that conclusion on there own. I do not think chris intended to live in the wild very long, perhaps no more than a few years. I think the journey was purely one of a selfish nature and thats ok, we all have our own lives to lives for ourselves and that to me is what chris was doing. As you have stated he wanted to prove to his father as well as to himself he could make it under his own power without standing on the shoulders of his parents,
and accepting what they deem as success and happiness which society dictates to us all in so many subtle ways without saying a word. I don’t think chris rejected society I more or less think he questioned it he had every intention on coming back.
The movie was more or less just a record of his journey nothing more nothing less. Hollywood knew people would read into it more than what the movie projected allowing room for asumptions and debate = MONEY. I feel that chris wanted to make his own way, prove to his father that he could make it his own way while also proving that we or he don’t need all the things society says we do to be happy. Why would he keep a book of memoirs to record his adventure if didn’t plan to come back. I beleive chris would have come back to society in search of a book and or movie deal to capture his introspection soul searching journey which would have turned him into the new(not really) American Idealist. It would have also set him apart from his parents, meaning he is his own man making his own way making his own money making his own future.
Coming from an affluent family makes all the difference too! it gives the story validity because if a homeless person (dirlect) did what chris did No One would care! I beleive had chris survived the book and or movie would have been an even much bigger success, because chris would have had even more adventures to relate and most importantly he would have been Alive to interpret the events and market the movie to a greater degree. His affluent background would be a significant factor in the promotion of the book and or movie deal ( a rich kid giving up the luxuries of wealth to live in the wild) No one would care if it were a homeless person!!!
You made a good additional point as well reffering to chris need of things from society. Precisely, he would need deoderante, soap, clothes, spices, bullets & ect hence the need for money hence the need for a job! It is an inevitability that is inescapable. To truely live cut off from society is to live without it, to live completely off the land and he would simply be living to exist and that is no way to live. That did not appear to be the objective chris had in mind, he wanted to LIVE (have experiences, philosiphy, travel & meet people) and he kept a record of his adventures obviously to share with others in some form or fashion. The fact that he kept a record say’s it all.
TO m, I wrote post 489 under anonymous ( don’t know why wake up didn’t display)
I have no intention of intentionally putting myself in a dangerous situation whereby I would be at risk for dying. But there are times in my very responsible, productive, respectful existence, that I feel as if I want to take off far away and lose myself to into an unplanned “Supertramp” excursion.. not a tourist trip, but an extended trip “on the road”, venturing into the unknown. At times I am tired of society – behavoirs of others and materialism. I have taken off on few occasions…and am very glad that I did (pictures, people, places, mistakes, accomplishments, and all). I have a great spouse, great family, great childhood, good friends, good job…so go figure. Relating to a story, feeling some sort of connection, to whatever degree, is totally dependent on one variable, yourself.
Nothing in the world of “nature” can be critized but the society can easily do.
If you keep away from the society to meet the nature, you live in a perfect world ! The nature is powerful and perfect. The city and society are not !
Chris wanted to experience his life in this perfect world. Afterwards, everybody can argue about their own point of view and build its own idea of the CMC story. He wanted to come back or not, prepared, unprepared, etc…
Nevertheless, it appears very difficult to critize somebody who wanted to live in a perfect world ! After watching the movie, I feel the necessity to be more close to the nature, to learn more about how to live inside it and the importance of the respect between persons.
Anyway, our kind of society will fail and as always, wars will occur.
Many interesting comments here. I’d like to address some of them.
First, was he selfish for doing what he did? No. He wasn’t married and had no children. To suggest he should some be shackled by his family, being denied the right to live his own life on his terms, is ridiculous. Perhaps he should have somehow communicated his intentions, but beyond that, he was obligated to no one. Are you all doing exactly what your Mom/Dad/Sister/Brother think you should be doing? No?! How dare you!
Yes, he was ill-prepared. His biggest mistake.
Those of you who are all tied up in the material world, fast cars, big houses, expensive toys…you won’t get it. You are so far removed from spirituality and the power that is true freedom that you won’t even be able to comprehend where Chris was coming from. You can’t even imagine not having your Starbucks everyday, much less actually sleeping in the wilderness.
If Chris died happy, then all was not wasted. Time is relative. He probably experience more freedom, happiness and contentment in his short life than most of us will experience in 70 or 80 years.
Regarding the Alaskans who prefer to demean Chris, calling him an amature, etc., they are only feeding their own egos. They have to build themselves up by knocking others down. They would have you believe they are something special because they know better than to do what Chris did, but in reality what they are saying is, even though they live there and have all of their worldly experience, they STILL don’t have the balls he had. Its that simple. He had no fear and they do and thats how they deal with it. Sissies.
the above post was funny thanks..lol…completely silly but amusing….yes he had fun…you always go to alaska by yourself w/o even a pet to have “fun”..lol…hey sign me up!….where can i get some of that long starvation by myself…sounds better than disney!…hehe
I have read the book and seen the movie and I do admire Chris for having the guts to go after his dream no matter how crazy it may seem to us. Also, I don’t think it is that uncommon for a young man in his 20′s coming from his background to feel invincible. A point made in the book and in the movie is many young people feel they need to run away from what they consider controlling parents to grow up.
I think we can learn a great deal from his life and death.
I read this online PDF of a park ranger in Alaska who called Chris an idiot because of what he did, and compared it to his own life. It doesn’t surprise me how he and other people don’t have a clue about what Chris was all about. He went on rambling about how chris should’ve gone into the wild prepared and with all necessary tools with him as if Chris was on a mere camping trip.
Sure, why didn’t he bring everything he could from the society he wanted a break from, and while he was at it, why didn’t he install electricity, phone service and cable TV on the bus?
Wow, I can’t believe how heartless some of you are. What Chris did was far from selfish. I think we should put our dreams and passions in front of others needs to control once in a while. Chris left because he didn’t want to be controlled or tainted by society’s ways. He never said he was gonna be gone forever. Can’t a guy take a vacation? What ever that idea of vacation may be is the travelers decision not yours. He obviously fell too ill and weak to hike his way out. Poisoned or not. Maybe he thought he would get better and decided to wait it out dieing in the process. If he wanted to fucking kill himself he had a rifle right next to him. Maybe he was fasting. Some non-materialistic people do things like that for spiritual reasons. Who knows. If Chris’s family knew their son or brother and appreciated who he was and what he stood for then maybe THEY could get over THEIR own selfish needs, and that is to have control. Screw that. Chris wasn’t going to be a hero to anyone but himself. He didn’t owe anybody anything. He did help others though by the way for those of you who think he was so selfish. He inspired others with his advice and great wisdom and lets not forget about the $24,000 selfish dollars he donated you assholes. Grow up and take a vacation yourselves. Maybe he took his journey a little too far. Maybe he should have done things differently. But that is the beauty of it. He was stubborn and filled with pride. A man who was too brave for his own good. That is what makes him such an inspiration. I think he rocked. He died, can’t you show some respect?
Your sarcastic comment “Sure, why didn’t he bring everything he could from the society he wanted a break from…” is totally lame. People are just suggesting that McCandless could have brought better supplies with him – a gun that fired a caliber more suited to the game up there rather than a 22 plinker, etc. The fact is that McCandless didn’t totally break from civilization. He wore machine-made clothing, firearms, printed books, etc. He should have just brought more, and the right stuff. If he had wanted to truly “break with civilization” than the only way to truly do that would have been to go out completely naked, knap his own flint spear points, wear the hides of animals he killed, etc. Truly breaking away from the lifeline of civilization is as deluded a goal as everything else McCandless did. True enlightenment comes from authentic and meaningful connections with other people, being a contributor to others. McCandless broke off from all connections he had with people, except those he exploited along the way (I’ve actually read the book, not just seen the movie). He was a pompous selfish ass who did not help anyone else out, did not solve any problems, he just indulged a selfish fantasy. “Testing” yourself comes from living in civilization without being corrupted or downtrodden by it, becoming the best person you can, one who is kind and charitable to others. It’s about being the best parent you can be in spite of the frustrations that parenthood throws at you. McCandless, with no real life experience, missed all that because he was stupid. All he would have had to do was live a few more years, have some real and authentic life challenges like the rest of us deal with every day once we become adults with families we are responsible for, and then he would ahve been tested. Life is an endurance test, and dying at 24 due to your own stupidity is the ultimate failure of that test.
Sorry, this dude was a selfish fool and a spoiled upper-class brat. I feel badly for his family but his early demise is exactly what he was working hard to earn (even if it’s not what he intended).
1) He could never have gone on his adventure in the first place if he hadn’t had a wad of money to pay his college tuition; the rest of us all graduated and went to work to pay off our loans. The fact that he even had money to give away after college means he was privileged.
2) This guy was idolized by my college classmates, most of whom were sheltered, relatively wealthy urbanites. They had the same pathetic need for “real” experiences and, at the same time, the arrogant expectation of success and resulting disdain for proper preparation that comes from never having failed at anything in their lives. Going into the Alaskan wilderness without map, food, compass, adequate clothing, or research and practice is not heroic. It’s ignorant and egotistical. The best (and most independent) outdoorsmen spend years learning from their more-experienced elders. Just because you were a superstar student and athlete and have always been told how brilliant you are doesn’t mean you get to skip all the hard work. I’ve no doubt that he was smart, but he was ignorant and inexperienced.
Learning about yourself is a process, not a one-shot deal, and a big part of it is having at least some concept of how much you don’t know, not just what you do know.
3) If he got this idea from Thoreau and London, he wasn’t reading very carefully. Thoreau lived in a cabin on the edge of town (not in the wilderness) and on land belonging to Ralph Waldo Emerson. People who cared about him knew where he was. London was a good enough outdoorsman but a failed rancher–liked to play at ranching but didn’t want to bother with the real work. His Alaskan experience was during the Klondike Gold Rush, and he had plenty of shelter and help from others.
4) His “extreme” experience was all about him. How about joining the Peace Corps? Teaching in inner-city schools? Working in healthcare in some remote village somewhere? Sharing some of that expensive education.
5) I’m no outdoorsman but I’ve been out enough to know that Nature is not your babysitter. Nature doesn’t care if you live or die. “Cold” in the lower 48 is nothing like “cold” in Alaska; that’s a climate you don’t want to mess with.
6) He missed the point, anyway. He was already controlled and tainted by society or else he would not have worked so hard to avoid it. Instead of finding himself, for himself, he still had to search for himself in relation to–in this case, against–society, so what he felt he “had” to do was just as controlled by it as his early conformity had been.
7) Unprepared people who set out on “adventures” and need to be rescued are neither heroic nor independent. A lot of other people–park service, volunteers, medical workers–end up spending a lot of money and risking their own necks to save them. When I was a kid in Colorado, there were always young guys going out, ignoring warnings, and getting caught in avalanches or getting lost in the woods or falling down mine-shafts, and a bunch of other people–better-prepared, better-trained, and more sensible–would have to go out and get them. Chris spared everyone that trouble, but I’m sure there’s a whole line of wannabes lined up to try it. I hope they have to pay back every penny spent on their rescues.
I’m hoping I have a somewhat different take on Chris McCandless because I didn’t know much about his story before I saw “Into the Wild.” I knew that a book had been written about his travels and experiences, but I thought that HE wrote it… I didn’t know he died.
When I saw the film, and realized what was culminating in the end, I was horror-struck, shocked, and grieved. What a loss to this world! We desperately need more people like Chris McCandless, and how tragic it is that he lived a dream which ended up killing him in the end.
I suppose what we all find difficult to accept is that he took his ideals to the extreme limit, as far as they could go. In a society where everyone has their price — and sometimes it’s an embarrassingly low one — how many of us could or would die for what we truly believe in? I personally believe it is the irony presented by Chris’s death that is the hardest to digest — he died learning how to live. Arguably, I suppose he really did achieve the highest spiritual journey, away from society, away from artifice, freed from every constraint and physical need, including that of his own mortal body.
I wish the loss did not have to be so great, but nothing worth knowing comes without some sacrifice. Chris McCandless left us with many lessons, and each person’s interpretation of his death (admirable idealist or unprepared lunatic?) tells us more about ourselves than it does about him.
“There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive.”
the only compelling aspect to this forum is the people who somehow found insight into life through this kids vacation or see this candle person as some sort of folk hero…truly amazes me how gullible people are..but i guess i shouldn’t be too hard on them…i mean after all if your 10 there might be a lesson here
Why do you take it on yourself to be hard on other people presenting thoughts/opinions; people just simply sharing thoughts (their own thoughts)? especially with a topic that is pretty much benign when compared to other terrible things that happen in this world. Enlighten me?
This string somewhat concerns me. There were many people making comments above that were scored for sharing their thoughts. If this is just a tribute site, then it should be labeled as such. If it’s a forum for exchange of thought, then let the people speak.
I saw the movie too, and I was also moved by it. However, I then researched the facts about CM’s trip and tragic death…. as the book, and especially the movie, took some creative license with how the tale unfolded. In truth, Chris was selfish, fairly unprepared, and possibly schizophrenic. Does that make him a bad person? No. Does it make his story less tragic? Nope. Does it make for a great story? Sure.
After a lot of reflection, the message I got…not from the movie, but from the responses it got from the public on the web…was that society needs heroes. We have this slant current culture likes to put on “society”, especially American society, is that it’s inherently evil or wrong in more ways than it’s good and right. I don’t want to get into that whole debate, but let me just say I wholeheartedly disagree with that line of thinking. It’s not an original concept, and thousands upon thousands try to reject society every day. My thought is: if you don’t like living in this society , either work to change it yourself, or leave. My whole point is that amongst an endless multitude of people who want to escape the “cage” of society, one unfortunate fellow was crowned a hero. The reason he’s getting all the attention is because someone wrote a book then made a movie about it. Current culture LOVES a good story with a moving soundtrack…no matter how accurate the story was to the truth, or how possibly unromantic the actual events may have truly been.
Aaaah…now some of you are getting mad and ready to reply to this note. Right?
Instead of going on forever, I’ll get right to my point. We DO need heroes. The problem is we’re surrounded by them every day, yet those heroes mostly go unnoticed. Our service men and women in the middle east…teachers…firemen and policemen…blood donors…foster parents….the people who fought the terrorist on fight 93 – - – the list goes on forever. Now if Sean Penn and Eddie Vedder would put a moving movie and music to some of their lives, we’d probably all jump on those bandwagons as well.
Chris was a passionate idealist whose tragic story had some good messages. But we should not forget those heroes around us every day who don’t have movies made about their lives. Celebrate them while they’re here. If you’re still not feeling the emotional attachment to them and their stories…try listening to the Call of the Wild soundtrack while watching the courageous children at St. Jude’s in Memphis fighting cancer. If that doesn’t stir your soul…
I just watched “Into the Wild” last night. I had initially (stupidly) suggested to my son that he watch this with me (instead of the zombie movies he’s so fond of). Ashamedly, I only vaguely recalled the harsh finality of Chris’ adventure in 1992–I had no idea when I rented the movie how it would actually end. But, then of course, neither did Chris. I am 43 years old. Thankfully, with hankie in hand, I watched the movie alone. At 23, I know (KNOW) that I would have found chris’ mission poignant, romantic, sad but full of truth. I wouldn’t have seen it through any other filter. And that was the point of Sean Penn’s script I think — Chris was in love with the beauty not only of the raw and unsensored wilds of Alaska (espoused by London in Call of the Wild); he was in love with the idea of freedom from the constraints of society–of needing others. He didn’t, COULDN’T, see that in 10 years maybe, 20 years for sure, he would have understood what the greatest writers of our time, painfully, bitterly, all understood in the end: we cannot escape our pasts, our parents, our upbringings. Our need for one another. I want to do now what the lovely dark haired actress (I forget her name) whose son ran away as a teen struggled valiently in the film not to do: grab Chris M. by the shoulders, hug him tight and tell him it will be alright. It will all be alright and he is loved.
Well, I have recently gotten the book and seen the movie. While I got alot out of what Chris did (went into the wilderness etc) and can relate to the why and how of his decision, I got alot more out of his sisters dialogue about how her parents realized the fragility of a Crystal glass and yet did not realize how fragile their son Chris was nor the imprint that they made on his life. She caused me to rethink the impression(s) that I have left (most of them unintentionally) on my own sons and the sometimes selfish decisions that I have made never thinking about how I may have hurt them. One of my sons is in his 20′s and had NEVER gotten over the divorce and the daily battles between his Father and I from many years ago. I don’t think that many of us realize how fragile human emotions are. In my day, I feel I would have been a very good friend of Chris’s, maybe even a soul mate. He dared to do what I dreamt of doing before I married and settled down and had children. We are nearly the same age and I graduated college around the same time, however, I bought into the family, house, money game and already had 2 boys by the time Chris died. I feel for his parents and I feel for the pain in his death. I personally don’t think that he meant to die, he made some serious errors that led to his death, but than, God does not make mistakes and perhaps God was who called him home in the end. I feel he is at peace and how he lived was more of a statement than his tragic death! I love the man though I never met him. ~ Michelle
The alaskans are alive and living well!!!
and I’m sure they’er much happier about that
than being some dead adventurist who did not
get to realize his new wisdom that the whole world over
Yes we can learn alot from Chris death.
What not to do!
Plenty of children come from much much worse
backgrounds than chris did,but they over came
their circumstances and went on to become fine
upstanding people with good carreers.
That in it self is heroic.
Point being I think we all wanted run away
for one reason or another, those of us who didn’t
can look back and see what our parents were trying
to teach us and prepare us for. Most of us have loving
parents who want us to succede and live happy lives,
they don’t always have the right answer or know exactly
how to teach and love but they do what they can.
It is only after we have matured an experience life
and parenthood ourselves that we can fully appreciate
our parents because we are now living what they lived.
I am sure had chris lived long enough he would have come
to this conclusion. Chris did not live long enough to fully
mature and learn from his new found wisdom.
Ive seen plenty of runaways on the street as prostitutes, drug addicts and or DEAD
and chris fate was no different. IF WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY KILLS YOU then what good is it!!!
Chris Mccandless…Wealthy, College Educated,$24,000 in Bank,Bright future, Young 22 years old.
Chris Mccandless,Traveler,Pennyless,homeless,Parentless,Goes to Alaska lives 113 days,Chris Mccandless 24 years old…DEAD!!!
Paul,Peter,Jesus died for their beliefs
and the people in Iraq & Iran die everyday
for their beliefs.
Moral…make sure what you beleive in is
valid & true and has a reward for your sacrifice!
You say the highest spiritual journey???????????!!!
I niether read nor saw that God was part of his journey
All I saw was birds & the bees & the flowers & the trees
Just the humbleness at Gods awesome creation
Worship the creator not the creation!
RE: Peter, Paul & Jesus. If you want to draw parallels to the bible, there are many tales of Jesus and other prophets who travelled to the desert for “40 days and 40 nights” without shelter or food. Their goal or quest was to relying on nature and “God” to provide for them, while waiting for a vision or spiritual revelation (most likely brought upon by hallucinations caused by malnourishment & exposure.)
RE: Adam & Eve. This is a moot point. They were not doomed to death because God could not control them. Adam & Eve are dead because (if) they lived, it was thousands of years ago. If you believe in the literal “Garden of Eden” story, then you must also believe in a talking snake and that Adam & Eve had 56 children, and Adam lived to be 960 years old. (Sounds like a ripe old age to me, by the way.)
RE: Iraq & Iran. I don’t wish to generalize or create a controversy, but unless you count suicide bombers (and I do not) I must observe that there is far more killing done in the name of “belief” and “religion” in the Middle East than there is self-sacrifice. These attitudes are or have been historically prevalent in every society where church has had more authority than state.
When I apoke of Chris McC possibly achieving the highest spiritual journey, I did not necessarily mean that as a reference to God. All too often, “God” and spirituality are mutually exclusive ideas. Chris’s goal was to leave behind man’s dependence on luxury and artifice, and I believe that included the self-righteousness and judgement that can accompany over-zealous religious or moral conviction. When I read some of the above postings on this site, I can’t say I blame him.
Unfortunately, he ended up sacrificing his own body in the same way he sacrificed all other physical comforts. The greatest irony of his death was that in forsaking society, he learned that he was doomed. To me this is evidenced by the fact that he made the effort to post an S.O.S. sign, seeking help, before he succumbed to starvation. He realized, perhaps too late, that having one man or woman in closer proximity, could have saved him, and I believe he would have been grateful for their help, if they had.
TO: SV (508) –
Thank you for your response. I, too, share your sadness that Chris will never be able to contemplate his journey with the hindsight of maturity. If he had lived, his adventures would have lighted the path of his entire future life… I like to believe, positively. But from another perspective, would anyone have noticed? In this life, too often it seems like we learn lessons only have some important sacrifice, usually a tragic death. For the most part, a true hero/legend/icon is defined and created by the debates his actions continue to spark. Only a passionately motivated individual can light a fire under so many people, with so many conflicting reactions to his life.
“SuperTramp” Did something that he wanted to do! Part of that something was avoiding and racing away from society. Society : people.
And it is all those people he was trying to segregate himself from that are writing these entries.
I simply believe he never wanted to die only to live w/ his fist raised against the machine that we live in today and claim to have beaten it. But, not for one second do I believe he wouldn’t be somewhere today drinking a beer on a bar stool telling others of his accomplishments along w/ sharing how beautiful the world is according to his eyes. And after hoping in a BMW to drive to a home w/ a 1,000 dollar mortgage.
what a cool person. regardless of his motivation to go to alaska, he accomplished a lot in his life. if you subtract the public knowledge of his story you are only left w/ a 24 yr. old dying too young and leaving behind a family who didn’t know where there son/brother was for the majority of his adult life. this is sad. but, now the public know’s about this kids life so we are left to judge. and i believe the only verdict to give is that of guilty of being a failure in the first degree. b/c he didn’t not walk out of the wilderness rather flown out in a helicopter makes him a failure.
but, that failure should not shadow this guy’s accomplishments. once a person stops trying to locate a reason for him leaving they’ll be able to see in it’s most simplistic form an “adventurer” and w/ out this understanding he’ll never be understood but then again i don’t think he wanted to be understood.
2. failure – he did not walk out of the wilderness
@ some point a person has to understand this world we live in is the way it is and a person that tries to run from it will learn it will eat you up and spit you out. i guess they didn’t teach this at emory or if they did chris didn’t take the course
I read the book and saw the movie. I really like Jon Krakauer and have read some of his books. However, some of his info and long with Sean Penn’s is just flat out wrong. I wish people would stop staying that he gave up all of his money and worldly possesions. Although he did write out a large check to charity, (read the coroners report) he died with $300 dollars in his pocket, a drivers license, and social security card. As far as Christopher McCandless being a fantastic person….I would agree that he did have guts, and a free spirit, I can only describe what he did to his family as assholish. Clearly he had many psychological issues to just up and leave without telling anyone that cared for him. Being a father with 2 kids, I can tell you that nobody writes the perfect book on how to be a parent. You learn from experience and you don’t do everything the right way. Thats just life!!! I can tell you than children are sometimes harder on their parents than they need to be.
Weather or not you think Chris “Alexander SuperTramp” Mccandless was hero is up to you. But I need to say one thing. Yes he might have been unprepared, we don’t know all the facts. But from what I know, I truly believe he set out to do something that the average man wouldn’t dare do. People are obsessed with money and things, and yes he may of had money with him but he certainly was not a spoiled kid. He wanted to live life on the bare essentials. People say many die the same way Chris died so “why are we making a big deal about him”. Well, for one things it is completely and utterly wrong to call man stupid. Yes maybe you don’t believe he was a hero but do not go around putting him down because of that. He traveled far to get to were he died. He met so many people and changed all their lives. He had the right mind set. I believe he was as smart as can be. Grades, wealth, and possessions so not determine how smart you are. Te way you live your life and the way you yo look at life (like the way chris looked at life) is the what should determine you degree of intelligence, and not just mentally but physically and emotionally. This book and movie impacted me greatly and made me want to do the same thing. Not just for a week but the rest of my life. I want to be a “rubber tramp”, I want to explore the world’s beauty the way it was intended to be to looked at ( the way chris looked at it). YOU MAY THINK CHRIS WAS NOT A HERO BUT IF YOU DARE INSULT HIM YOU HAVE BECOME ONE OF THE REASON CHRIS SET OUT ON HIS JOURNEY, TO GET AWAY FROM “SOCIETY”, PARENTS AND PEOPLE WHO DID NOT BELIVE IN HIM LIKE YOU.!
jeezus….doesn’t anyone remember being young…setting off on a journey after high school or college having no idea what will happen…yet you still know you have people to fall back on…your family and friends….we also know regardless how we treat our family at that age they will still come to our rescue….maybe it’s just me but his trip is nothing new…sure he died…so that makes it different…or does it….can’t even imagine how many runaways there are these days….turning to prostitution on the streets..maybe some get killed,we never know,maybe some get abducted and get sold to slave rings….sure there have been stories like this one…and their sad…period….are we all missing the point…..shouldn’t we show how dangerous this can be…discuss the dangers so we can help kids see how dangerous this can be…or should we create a hero so kids emulate this activity and go off and get killed as they are doing as we speak!
At the end of the day what he did with his life was his decision.
I watched the movie but does a movie ever really tell what happened?.We all at some time in our lives want to be alone …I know I have.He wanted solitude .. he obtained it.In his writing he wrote that “happiness is only real when shared”.Maybe he only learnt that at the end ….. maybe that is something I still have to learn,so am I any better than he?
Am I selfish?You can live in a whole city filled with people and be lonely and even die alone and not be found for weeks.That is the end result of solitude.But is it a wasted life?I don’t know what he was trying a achieve,whether it was right or wrong,but it was his life even if some think it was a mistake.
Many of you mention that he chose to “live in the wild” or the “bush” as you say, aka Jack London. However, he was found dead in a bus that he apparently had been staying in for some time. This bus was not airlifted to the spot it now sits. It was driven to that spot! If he truly wanted to live off the land, he would have seen the bus and kept on walking. By staying in the bus he was cheating. Had he not found the bus, he would have been dead within a week. This man is not the hero many of you make him out to be. He is a sadly misguided, possibly mentally ill young man who suffered a tragic end, and is now being used for profit by the same people he was attempting to escape from. No wonder he “disappeared”.
The guy was a fucking moron. All of you crystal wearing hippies who admired his actions should follow suit and the world might become a better place. Brave? Heroic? PFFFFF…gimme a break. People who sit at desk jobs every day to feed their families and pay the mortgage are heroic. People that tune out and go into the wilderness unprepared are a waste of time.
ummm last i heard alaska was part of this civilization..also i believe, although not completely certain,clothes,guns,ammo and everything else he had with him is also part of it as well…obviously kids are posting and can’t see how hard it is and what one must endure to raise their sorry butts…only to later have them leave w/o a word?…go ahead ,vicariously live off this macandle person with some whacko perception of him as your hero…it’s as close as your scared little butt will ever get to leaving mommy and daddy although i’m sure you make it as miserable for them as you can.
He certainly could’ve went to the extreme and gone there bare naked to break away from society, but those weren’t really the terms he set out for his right of passage. Stupid? In my opinion, no. Right of passage is supposed to be dangerous or it wouldn’t be what it is. But I don’t expect someone who’s tied to society and the things it provides to understand the concept.
He probably wasn’t prepared enough according to what society thinks he needed to survive. Some people might be locked in the terms that what hasn’t been done to this day is an impossibility but then again, that’s not what the first guy who broke the 4-minute mile thought.
Christopher seemed to be searching for some kind of meaning to his life, and He finally found what he was looking for. At the end of Christophers life, Chistopher found that true happiness needs to be shared. Shared with others as love is to be shared. It was to late for him as the story goes, he was trapped by the very thing that gave him his insight. He was lost. In the wilderness. Even though the wilderness took him. He found what he was searching for. How many of us are lost in the wilderness? How many of us are searching for meaning? Will any of us find it before the wilderness takes us too? Life is joy, and pain, and happiness, and more pain, and more joy. The End .
In response to your posting of “society thinks he needed to survive”, it’s not just society that knew he was woefully under prepared.
The main argument that Chris’s supplies were inadequate come from people that LIVE in Alaska. People who have either live their entire lives there, or whom have spent a great deal of time there. Most of whom know what it takes in the way of gear to survive at even the best of seasons in the Alaskan bush.
As far as Roger Bannister who broke the 4 min mile, he was an Olympic athlete before he broke that record. In the time leading up to his breaking the record he PREPARED HIMSELF to do so. He didn’t just decide one day to break the record and go for it.
I like the idea of what Chris was doing (RIP) but IMO went about it the wrong way. His family’s severe grief is a unfortunate by product of his dream.
“he didn’t set out to change the world or to help others”
….Uh, excuse me? Hmm, i guess you’re right; he didn’t really do anything to help people except, gee, I dunno, giving his freaking life savings to charity. You’re an idiot; before you go to ridicule someone for their ‘selfishness’ or ‘stupidity’ at least do a little research about them. And he did change me, for one. Maybe he didn’t change the world, but he definately changed the way I look at it. His story made me realize that I don’t need to be bothered with ignorant, superficial people like you. I’d be fine ‘ditching out’ on people like you , and if you think he’s so foolish why would you want him in your society anyway? Don’t you want ‘freaks’ like that to be isolated? And why do you even bother reading a book about him? (IF you read it)
Clueless as we all were, to whatever degree, prior to having adult-life responsibilities. I grew up with parents that were very responsible and loving….great mentors , however, I had a lot of learning from “screw-ups” that you would have thought I should have known better. In hindsight it’s so easy to say I should have….., he should have…….etc.
I am not so sure what career he would have chosen had he lived on.
Being prepared, not being prepared, taking precautions, not taking precautions, understanding the Alaskan wilderness, not understanding the Alaskan wilderness….
….I do not believe the book is about that.
The book was written out of curiosity to delve into the mindset of Chris, his adventures and travels that ultimately ended with his death.
The truth of it all, we can never delve into someone elses mindset to the extent that we can truly come up with explanations in full (I believe the author John K. would not disagree)…. we experience, we observe, we draw conclusions…..conclusions and perceptions based on our own life experiences and beliefs.
Had Chris survived, I choose to think that he would have…….the possibilities are limitless.
You know I have critisized many aspects of this story and still do. I really do think McCandless was mentally ill. I also don’t believe you protest materialism to the point of killing yourself or otherwise die. But I will concede one thing. Perhaps, as parents, we worry a little to much about success. Here is my point. We all wan’t our kids to succeed and be able to make a life after we pass on but what about fun, joy, and happiness. Maybe we should be a little less pushy and a little bit more encouraging when our kids ask to explore. Perhaps Chris had less time to enjoy life. Maybe he was pushed to be a success and not encouraged to have fun. I don’t know. I do know he made poor choices and many of those choices can not be explained through the eyes of normalcy. They can only be explained through the eyes of mental illness. This world is a materialistic world, all of us created it that way, and one will always need things. You can’t escape it but perhaps we can be less pushy and less beligerant. After all it’s not how much money or things you have, those all pass away, but happiness last a life time. Remember happiness is a state of mind. We choose and make our own happiness. If your not happy do something about it, just don’t be foolish and die. Good Day, Joe.
Gave away his “life savings”? Crap. That money was given to him.
I watched the movie last night and several times felt like turning it off. Apart from the boring, dismal and repetitive musings of a well-educated hippie, I was appalled at his lack of awareness and preparedness. I kept hearing Jim Croce singing something about not spitting into the wind, pulling the mask off the Lone Ranger, or messing around with “Jim.” Seems to me that is exactly what Mr. McCandless did. He disrespected a formidable opponent.
“life savings” = money you have in the bank by whatever way you aqcuire it (earning it, given to you in the form of a gift, winnings, inheritence, and on and on). Although he did not necessarily earn all of it…the bottom line is that he being the ACCOUNT HOLDER, decided to give HIS money to charity.
Nonsense. The money I have in the bank right now I did not work my whole life for which is what the tern “life savings” generally means. His didn’t “save” it, it was given to him. I would certainly give him credit if he had earned it all before giving it away. That would make more of a statement. Much as those people who do something (write a book, invent something, etc.) often donate their earnings to charity. But they did something to earn the money they give away. Giving away something you were given, something you did not have to earn yourself, is an empty gesture.
So if I receive a large amount of money as a gift and decide to donate the money to a charity organization or an environmental group…I need to attach a note to the check -
Dear_______, Just so you know, this money is being given to your organization as an empty gesture, please categorize it as such.
I wonder how many people have benefited from empty gestures versus not so empty gestures?
I give him credit for doing what he wanted to do, doing what truly made him happy but let’s not forget he probably couldn’t have gotten to Alaska without the help of others, he wanted to leave and would have required the help of others to do so (as the note he posted indicated) and his body had to be evacuated by Alaska state troopers. I know this has probably been said a million times, but couldn’t he have at least educated himself a little more about surviving in the wild? When you go skydiving, you usually have two parachutes, the one you’re likely going to use and a backup parachute. All he had was a bag of rice, a rifle and a sleeping bag. Let’s not forget the fact he killed a moose, then he couldn’t eat most of the meat it yielded because he didn’t know how to preserve it. A moose died needlessly and 1500 pounds of meat rotted for no good reason.
What was really commendable about Chris McCandless anyway, and why was there so much press about it, as well as a movie and book? Aren’t there a lot of other people who tried the same thing as him (and even more amazing, survived doing it) ?
I am fifty one years old and the father of three girls that range in age from 12 to 20. I put this out there because it obviously prejudices my perspective. I began by seeing the movie first, not something I normally do, without any for-knowledge of the outcome. The movie left me feeling oddly ambivalent. Something about the story got under my skin. Immediately after seeing the film I downloaded an unabridged audio version of John Krakauer’s 1996 book about Chris. It filled out the story for me and gave me a much broader view of Chris than I came away with from the movie. This is not a criticism of the film, but rather a limitation of the medium. My feelings ran the gambit from anger, mostly because of how much his parents suffered, to admiration for the courage to carry out his “vision.” The most poignant moment in the film for me, because I can relate as a parent, is the scene where his father is simply walking outside their home and the pain wells up in him to the point where his features are distored and he is stricken immobile by the shear weight of his loss.
It is the counterpoint of these two emotions, admiration and anger, that make Chris’s pilgramage so compelling. The truth is that Chris’s story would not be tabloid news, a book or a movie had his adventure not ended tragically. We know about it only because of his death. To varying degrees of success there are and have been many Chris’s. Some are driven by wonderlust, some by a genuine sense of a desire to communce with nature, some as a rejection of society, and not a few because they need to work out some psychololigcal trauma.
Having grown up in the jungles of Sourth America (I am the son of an oil man) I am very familiar with what it takes to survive in the wild. Chris clearly did not go “Into the Wild” prepared. For him that was the point. Whatever you might think of him, his ability to survive as long as he did, was clearly an accomplishment. I don’t think he had any intention of comitting suicide, but he knew what he was attempting carried serious risk
Ultimately I keep coming back to his parents. It is hard to describe to those without children what it is like to go through what his parents did. It is a kind of agony that is unreconcileable. Chris’s adventure was bought with a very high price by those who loved him. His parents, his sister, his extended family. To ask them to accept the notion that he died “happy” is a double cruelty. I would hope that the mistakes I make as a parent, and they are too many to count, don’t come back to me in this manner.
We are never alone on this planet. We can’t simply slip the bonds of our common humanity by walking “Into the Wild’” Choosing to live as Chris did is not in and of itself right or wrong. Choosing how to do it can be. There was simply no need for his family to suffer as they did. Chris was old enough to make this decision on his own, to face his demons, to face his parents and declare his intentions. This would have been difficult, traumatic, but in the end redeeming. It would not necessarily have prevented his death, but it would have mitigated the pain.
Chris (God rest his soul) was an over confident dreamer, who selfishly and hap-hazzardly wandered into the Alaskian terrian with little more than a toothbrush. In the end his academic proweness and love for literature became one in the same, endearing words in a book.
I think what Chris did was a brave thing that alot of people want to do, but are to afraid to do it. i think people should stop judging him for what he did. he went out on a quest and followed what was in his heart. I don’t think anyone should judge him for that. His story should be inspiring to people to follow what is in your heart and not care about what others think. Is it selfish? Yes. But isn’t it selfish not to do the things you want to do?
I have rarely been touched by a story like I have been by this one. I can greatly identify with Chris’s mind set when I was his age. His story has given me the impetus to review my own life, my travels, my decisions, my foolishness, my courage, my cowardice. I am so sad that he let his disappointment that his parents were human affect him so negatively. He found freedom on the road and in the wild, and God bless him for that. If only he could have known the freedom that comes from forgiving one’s parents. Maybe if he had given himself the chance to live longer by using common sense he would have learned that. He forgave himself for wasting the beautiful moose. How about forgiving Mom and Dad for being less than perfect? His father took him camping and hiking. What I wouldn’t have given to have had a father who would have done those things with me. His parents did not beat or molest him. They wanted him to join the materialistic parade and he did not want that. All he had to do was say, No!”, and go his own way. I don’t understand the need to hate them, disown them, and never contact them again. You don’t need to kill the body to “kill the false being inside”. He should have read the part of Thoreau where he said, “Don’t stretch the seams in putting on the coat.”
i just do not see the point in bashing his actions. Many of us, i definately can, relate to him. Im always questioning reality and why school and grades even matter, and money. I think also there are certain people who are content with the world and enjoy it, but there are also those that naturally dont find as much happiness in the world. Either things are not necessarily bad. At 16 years old, I find myself wanting more, just not content with what society offers. its a state of mind, its your personality, and i think he was an incredible young man, but if u dont understand his mindset dont be so quick to judge him. ironically this is the very thing he was against, all the hypocrisy and judging in society
When I was his age (many years ago) there were a whole lot of young people wandering around wanting to “find themselves.” It became such a banal regurgitation that I am sure that most of them had no idea what they were talking about but it made it easier for them to shirk any responsibility for themselves or their actions. To deify a young man who made such terrible basic mistakes in his “adventure” into a wilderness for which he was woefully unprepared is to validate ignorance.
Well said. With just a little more prepardness, whether it being more adequate equipment , educating himself on meat preservation, or simply buying a map, he would have emerged from the wilderness alive. As well, I wonder why, with all his free time, he didn’t scout the area. He would have then found the river crossing.
he should’ve done this, he should’ve done that. he lived his life the way he wanted to. who are we to judge? he could’ve stayed at home and not gone on his quest and got hit by a car or shot in a crossfire. how many people who have commented on this page wanted to follow what they believed in or do something with their life, but were to afraid of doing it because of what people might say? you people are foolish and jealous. jealous in the sense that he wasn’t afraid to live life the way he wanted to, not the way society wants us to.
Foolish because we state an opinion that differs from yours? Yes, he could have died in other ways, but there are many ways of increasing your odds of dying. I wonder if his parents were impressed by his selfishness.
This is just one of many powerful lines in the movie. I find this so true, and so absent in american society. ( i can’t comment on other countries )
I can honestly say that I have no in my life. I have had a fairly normal, easy, typical middle class life so far. Unchallenged except for societys pre governed challenges. I yearn for the day that I can measure my self once, and not just feel confident, but know and be confident in myself.
I am sad his journey ended alone. I hope at the end he found what he was looking for. I hope his truth was found.
Ok, I totally understand what people are saying when they talk about his parents and how they “didn’t need to suffer the way they did”. I understand that. Anyone who goes on a journey like that has a loved one that is left behind. He did what he needed to do to find his happiness. Selfish you say? Yes and no. Don’t we all need to be selfish to find our own happiness? We should be and do what makes us happy, no matter how it affects another person, because how will we ever truly be happy within ourselves if we don’t do what’s right for us?
Forgot to put in my name…I don’t want to be anonymous
Ok, I totally understand what people are saying when they talk about his parents and how they “didn’t need to suffer the way they did”. I understand that. Anyone who goes on a journey like that has a loved one that is left behind. He did what he needed to do to find his happiness. Selfish you say? Yes and no. Don’t we all need to be selfish to find our own happiness? We should be and do what makes us happy, no matter how it affects another person, because how will we ever truly be happy within ourselves if we don’t do what’s right for us?
His parents suffered ? They didnt appreciate what they had when they had it. For those who put down his idea, thoughts or actions; you are the kind of people who gave him the idea to walk. The kind that focus on words like unprepared, selfish, etc. Preparation is in the mind only, and selfishness only exists when you take from others. I think Chris in the end, gave much more than most of us would in a live time. He gave hope, idea, thought, and encouragement. A search for something greater than electronics, greater than religion, a search for yourself. When you have nothing, you have nothing to lose…
Exactly. It saddens me so much when I see people totally blind to what he was doing. So many people missed the point of it all, even though it’s staring them right in the face. Maybe people are just too afraid? I don’t know. His story changed my life. I can only hope it will do the same for others.
All he gave was a notebook full of empty words that were turned into a book and a movie. His parents and loved ones did suffer from his selfish acts. They suffered because a spoiled rich kid didn’t have a clue about life, or how great he had it. What in his life was so bad that he had to abandon the ones who loved him most ?? His mother was not a crack head and his father wasn’t slanging rock on the corner of the street. He had a life that a lot of people would be priviledged and grateful to have. They paid for his college, supported him his entire life and loved him. So his dad had an affair at one point, maybe his parents didn’t always get along…..but that is life. What exactly was he doing ?? He probably asked himself that question about a week after that river go too full to cross !! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to hike up into Alaska and die of starvation in a bus. Bottom line is he died a lonely miserable death. I mean I feel for the guy and it would be a horrible way to go, but what did he expect ?? Alaska is no walk in the park, you just don’t go up there to find yourself. You go up there if you know yourself already and try your best to survive. Most of all it disturbs me that he is being portrayed as this “hero”. I can think of a lot of people who have accomplished much more than he did, and there aren’t any movies about them.
Ok first off, yeah, he did have a lot. He was very privileged. But he didn’t want all of that. He didn’t need it. He ventured out to find his own happiness. Like I said in an earlier post…what is wrong with him doing what makes him happy? Don’t we all deserve a chance to find our own happiness? No matter what that may be? As far as Alaska goes…he knew very well it was no walk in the park. Come on, nobody is that stupid to not now the wild is a dangerous place. He knew what he was getting himself into, and to say otherwise is an insult to him.
You’re right that is cool……….what a great society we live in to be able to have that freedom !!! You can delude yourself all you want, but it’s people like him that go around today saying how much they hate the USA and bitch and complain about every thing us Americans have. I guarantee that if he made it back alive, he would have cashed in on his little adventure and made shit loads of money. This guy was just some kid who was raging against the machine and wound up dead. If he inspired some people then that is cool, but to jock this guys nuts and hold him on a pedistool is just nonsense !!
You know what? He is a hero to me and tons of other people. Of course a lot of us wouldn’t necessarily do what he did, but it’s about what the whole thing meant. And please, don’t confuse society with America. He wasn’t angry at America, it was society in general. There’s a difference. I used to be dead set on doing everything I could to make money and become successful and stable. But I’ve realized that I was only doing that because it’s what everyone said I should be doing. It was the only way to be happy. But you know what? A person’s success and stability can only be defined by that person. Nobody else. Everyone deserves a chance to do what makes them happy, even if it might not go along with what other people want. My brother, sister, and I are going on a cross country trip this summer in an rv. But it’s not just a trip, the rv will be our home. We have no destination, no time restraints, we are just enjoying being alive. And that’s one of the many reasons Chris did what he did. He wanted to just enjoy being alive without all the bullshit of modern society. He wanted to experience life in it’s most basic form. Because we are no different than the wild. We are no different than plants and animals, we have just evolved to be self aware of ourselves. And being self aware gives us the ultimate privilege of being able to understand and enjoy life.
It’s in our nature to be a rebel in the early years of adulthood. So he has a chapter or two where he rebels against materialism, has major issues with his parents. There’s nothing wrong with moving on to the next chapter or chapters in life with a changed outlook; didn’t care about finances then, now does, once angry at parents, now able to forgive. If he had lived and cashed in on his adventure, no big deal to me.
How dare anyone judge another on what he lived for? Would any of you like to be judged on what you are doing in your life? Are you doing what makes you happy? Or do you go to work your 40 hours a week to get your paycheck because you have to?
Live happy, Die happy, It is a tragic story and after reading it all of us would be happier to hear of a tale of Christopher McCandless to be rescued or return from his journey.
I will not judge Christopher McCandless on following his heart, and his dreams. I hope that his adventure continues in heaven….
If he really wanted freedom and to find himself, he should have eaten some Mushrooms and gone out to the “Bush” for three days like everyone else :-)
Yes I do work 40 hours a week. I pay my bills, raise my son and support my family. What kind of cold hearted prick would I be if I decided one day to just abandon them because I wanted to be free ?? I agree that for him to follow his dreams took a lot of guts, but to up and leave your family ?? I can only imagine how much pain and grief that caused them.
I could care less whether what he did with his life, but to say he accomplished anything would be just plain crazy. To say he found hapiness…..well we could argue that all day. The truth is he created more paid than he did joy in his short life.
Chris had not yet reached where you are; he was just out of college; no career, no spouse, no kids, no house payment, the perfect time to take off….He should have kept in touch with his parents and sister no matter how difficult for him. He took it to the extreme not keeping in contact with them. He hadn’t yet figured out that the people closest to us (family) are not perfect and screw-up.
Not sure why anyone feels it necessary to judge Mccandless. Perhaps we’ll never understand his intentions or motivations. i have to admire his audacity. passion so intense that it refuses to yeild to anything or anyone, least of all logic. it tickles me that so many people are hung up on the fact that he did not buy a map. uh…you don’t see the irony there folks? Chris rejected maps his entire life, wasn’t that sort of the point? i think more than anything his story is an important one because it illustrates the need for balance between passion and practice. something we can all relate too…if we let ourselves.
Chris McCandless was no visionary. He was obviously suffering from mental problems that he was unable or unwilling to recognize and seek assistance for. Instead, he focused on selfishness and isolation and in the process caused untold amounts of pain and suffering to virtually everyone he came in contact with, including those he proclaimed to “love.”
He repeatedly broke the law in his wanderings and even though he was caught at this several times, he failed to learn from it and continued to break whatever law happened to stand in the way of his own personal beliefs. He poached game, He hopped trains, he trespassed and deliberately disobeyed the law and took great pride in doing so. I’m sorry, I thought laws existed to protect.
It seems the only person Chris McCandless was concerned with was himself and doing what he pleased, when he pleased, however he pleased and everything else be damned!
He goes into the not so wild (by alaskan standards) with a 10 lb bag or rice, books and little else to “survive.”He doesn’t even take a map or compass. He attempts to escape society and yet stops at the one thing that represents society, a mass transit bus in about 25 miles from Healey, Alaska. There he finally manages to do what he has been trying to do for so long – make the final “big escape.” Basically, he committed suicide the hard way…by being unprepared, unskilled and arrogant. Death by arrogance.
He tossed away thousands of dollars, a college education, the love of his family and friends, and became one of the most wasteful people I’ve ever heard of. He poached a moose for nothing. Even had he known how to butcher the dead animal, where did he intend to keep 1500 lbs of meat? He never thought that far ahead. He obviiously never planned much of anything very well.
Thousands of homeless people die of disease, exposure or other causes every day. their bodies are found by passers by just as McCandless’s was. Where is their news coverage? Where are their best sellers?
Chris McCandless was nothing special. He was lost…
It’s a really sad thing, that so many people can’t see the message that’s kicking them right in the face. Excuse me, they can, they just don’t want to, cause they’re scared of what it might mean for their own lives. Yes, Chris left his family with a lot of pain, but you know what? Every single person on this earth, and every single day, there are billions of people being hurt by other people. This hurt is in a different form than the hurt he caused his family, but it’s still hurt. And to say that what he did is worse than the hurt and the mind games that people play everyday is just ridiculous.
Nobody should EVER have to give up their own happiness to make someone else happy. That’s why so many people are so fucking depressed, they’re all trying to make other people happy and not focusing on what truly makes them happy, no matter what that may be. Now don’t get me wrong, in no way am I saying that if you have kids and responsibilities like that you should just leave everything behind. I’m saying really think about what makes you truly happy. And when I say truly happy, I mean the TRUTH. Not what you think will best please other people. And if what makes you happy is living a secure, conventional life with kids and a family then so be it, you can do whatever makes you truly happy. I think everyone deserves to do what makes them happy.
Open up your mind to what the message is. Don’t be afraid of it. Of course people have obligations, I never denied that, I never said people don’t have resposnsibilities. All I said was that everyone deserves to do what makes them happy. Is that selfish? Sometimes. But everyone is selfish every day. And I’m not saying if you have obligations you should just abandon them.
You need to do what’s right for you. You can do whatever you want, I’m not gonna judge you for that. If having a family, being secure and stable are important to you then go ahead…that makes you happy and I’m not going to deny you that or judge you for it. If someone will be happy living in a tent in the desert, then go ahead, that’s what makes them happy. If someone will be happy making a lot of money and being able to have anything they want, go ahead, that’s what makes them happy. And I would hope that you wouldn’t judge me for the way I live my life, cause I’m finding my own happiness and what I want out of life.
We’re all trying to find happiness, nobody should ever judge what makes another person happy, even if they don’t agree with it.
Life, liberty and the persuit of happiness. Chris McCandless’ persuit of happiness ended in his tragic death by starvation, lost and alone in the Alaskan wilderness at the age of 24. Leaving behind a trail of unrepairable broken hearts. Did he have the “Right” to do what he did? Yeah, okey. Was it a good and valid decision? Not in my view.
It is this kind of judgmental discourse that leads some individuals, perhaps McCandless included, to want to “fly below the radar” of mainstream society.
I agree that we can all learn lessons from the story. Those of us who bash him for his wild-eyed idealism should perhaps become more idealistic ourselves; those of us who idolize him for his “come what may” attitude should perhaps concentrate more on common sense and acceptance of imperfection.
This story has lessons to teach all of us, but because we are all different, we will never reach a consensus.
Can’t we all just get along?
McCandless was admirable for setting goals and attempting to reach them, but can be criticized, like any of us, for he was only human.
was the guy beaten and starved as a child…was he molested …were his parents drug addicts that stole his hard earned college money to buy crack…so he ran away,never to speak with them again…ok then he should leave w/o a word…..i dont think this is the case….lets try this scenario-he got everything he always wanted,probably threw a fit when he didn’t…was raised well,college paid for and further money promised on the way…obviously a clear case of self abuse -self punishment(viewed as punishing his family) for being a total pain in the butt his whole life..basically he didn’t like himself…it wasn’t that he was running from this evil society, he was running from who he was and always has been…get it?…he was punishing himself and everyone he knew because he simply hated himself… and he’s admired for it.
I’ve commented here before but I recently saw a dvd documentary on Chris called The Call of the Wild. For anyone who is for some reason (like me) “into the Chris story”, check it out.
The documentary, for me, opened up my eyes to how much Jon and Sean Penn both romanticized the story. The filmmaker of The Call of the Wild, Ron, is passionate about the subject and speaks to Chris’ old college roommate among others and presents Chris in a much different, more realistic light.
It brings up points such as the fact that it is proven Chris did not die from moldy or poisonous plants/seeds. Also, Chris did not burn all of his money … his pack was in fact found in the bus months later with a wallet containing a ridiculous amount of IDs from various states as well as (I believe but I can’t remember the exact number) 300 dollars in cash. I’m not saying it makes his story any less compelling, believe me, I am saying that I wish Jon and Sean would have stuck more to the true story and not have made it so hollywood for all of us.
Towards the end he brings up a pretty good argument about whether or not Chris had injured his arm in some way preventing him from swimming the river. Ron (the filmmaker), even goes as far as to “swim” the river himself at the same time period that Chris would have been there, showing that if you had to or wanted to most would have have given it a try. And most probably could have walked away as well.
Anyway .. this is much longer than I expected it to be but check out that movie.
“Thousands of homeless people die of disease, exposure or other causes every day. their bodies are found by passers by just as McCandless’s was. Where is their news coverage? Where are their best sellers?”
A little off topic but who is to say that Chris wanted this attention or media coverage? Who cares whether he got it or not … by no means did he appear to ask for it. Again a bit off topic, but Chris spent many weekends in DC with homeless people over his friends. He even took a homeless man home with him once and set him up in an RV. He was a caring person that probably lost his path a bit, but there’s no need to attack him for things he has no control over (i.e. media coverage, books, movies).
Also, it’s a little different when someone disappears, leaving no sign for their family or friends and shows up over a year later thousands of miles away in an abadoned bus in the “wilderness”.
to michael c
who the hell are you to pass judgement. you sound like a complete idiot. why should he of done the things your way? there was no right or wrong way to do the things he did. he went out on his quest the way he wanted to…we have no right to sit here(don’t you have anything else better to do?) and pass judgement on him. it is not selfish when you live your life the way you want to live it. family and friends will not always be there. you are always going to be with yourself. it would have been selfish if he didn’t go on his quest just b/c what others might have thought.
michael get a life and think before you speak
when you give your opinion that isn’t judgement….i can say i think chris mcandle was a complete idiot but maybe had his good points…we aren’t judging his acceptance into heaven or his motives….just what we see….the things that are evident can be and should be discussed…we aren’t going to help mcandle but we can help others who might have the same ideas as him or think he is some icon for heroism…obviously the guy wasn’t playing with a full deck