Friday, July 27, 2012
"Into the Wild" by Jon Krakauer
Contrary to public opinion, though he was reckless, McCandless wasn't stupid, and he probably would have survived except for a few devastating, but easily made, mistakes. In the end (and I'd agree), Krakauer seems to suggest that McCandless' greatest flaw was the hubris of the young. He rejected his parents because they had faults, rather than recognizing them as human. He rejected all trappings of society (money, housing, jobs, plentiful food) in an effort to find "purity" in nature rather than dealing with the world the way it is. By removing himself from it, I think he tried to take the easy way out--perhaps not easy physically, but I'd argue it's a lot easier to focus only on basic needs (food, water) than to try and work with society (and plan for retirement or set up health insurance or get the car fixed).
I'll be teaching American Lit in the fall, and I'd like to eventually include Into the Wild in the curriculum because it fits in so well with basic American themes (trying to find one's self; rebelling against the pressures around you) and connects so clearly to major American works (Thoreau's transcendentalism; the call of the wild in Huck Finn). It'd be neat to compare it to Kerouac's On the Road as well.