When this chapter opens, the rhythm of the story changes, and the reader is not provided with the description of Sam McCandless telling his father and stepmother that Chris McCandless is dead. Why would the author leave out an important event in the story? How does the reader know that some time has elapsed since McCandless’s parents learned of his death?
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I think Krakauer shapes his narrative in chapter 11 to illuminate the fact that Chris's actions had a devestating impact beyond just his own fate. This section makes very clear the consequences on everyone else for McCandless’s stubborn carelessness about his own safety. As friend after friend hears about the unidentified hiker found dead in the Alaskan wilderness and becomes sure that it is McCandless, his carelessness stops seeming just stupid or foolhardy, but it starts to seem actually cruel, and this is especially emphasized when Krakauer visits McCandless’s parents at their home, and sees firsthand the pain that Chris’s disappearance and death has caused them.