Into the Wild

why does krakauer talk about him self in chapters 14 and 15?

like why is he talking about him self?

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It is only in these sections that Krakauer truly becomes a character in Into the Wild, more than just narrator, investigator and interviewer. In his story of climbing the Devils Thumb, he illuminates a lot of parallels between himself and McCandless, and we see how he probably can understand McCandless’s motivations deeply, without having ever met him, because of their similarities in life circumstances and personalities. This does raise the question, however, of if he can really tell this story impartially, or might he be imposing his own story onto McCandless’s, which, with his death, can never be completely known.

This draws attention to the problem of biography generally, that someone has to write it, and by choosing what to put in and what to leave out, how to frame the story, and how to tell it, the biographer has significant control over how the public will perceive the subject of the biography. In this case especially, where much is not known and the key figure is deceased, there is more room for the biographer to assert his own perspective. Yet Krakauer does it explicitly—he admits that he may be impartial, that he feels a connection to McCandless, and he makes explicit where he is making assumptions or drawing conclusions that cannot be proven.

This switch to Krakauer’s story, taking Krakauer from journalist, author and narrator to subject and temporary protagonist, highlights again the issue of point-of-view and perspective. Not only does this section emphasize Krakauer’s impartiality and personal perspective, but it also highlights the fact that, unlike Krakauer, McCandless will never be able to tell his own story. We must rely on Krakauer’s perspective of everything that happened to McCandless because we will never have McCandless’s, and this again emphasizes the tragedy of his death.

The inclusion of Krakauer’s own story in Into the Wild does seem to complicate McCandless’s story, and allows us to see, if not into McCandless’s mind, at least into the mind of someone who had similar passions, demons, and ambitions. Krakauer’s loneliness in his time on Devils Thumb seems significant, as McCandless chose to go into the Alaskan wilderness alone, and while he generally seemed to bask in his independence and solitude, Krakauer’s admission that as much as he thought he could do without people, he was really lonely, makes it seem likely that McCandless probably had moments of deep loneliness as well.

Krakauer’s story also makes it clear that McCandless was almost surely not suicidal. Although he admits, in his last postcard to Westerberg, that he is aware that he might never make it out of the wilderness alive, he believes in his ability to survive, and he is too young to truly be able to imagine death, especially because he has managed to survive all of his other dangerous adventures. Krakauer does not give up on his ascent even after multiple near-death encounters, for he has put so much stake on succeeding that to give up is unimaginable, and it seems likely that for a similar reason, no matter the advice he got, McCandless cannot imagine changing or giving up on his Alaska plan.

Krakauer does eventually give up on his first ascent plan, going up an easier way instead, and this amounts to a discovery that is difficult for both he and McCandless to accept—there are some things that, no matter your will or determination, are impossible. The same is not true of McCandless’s adventure—he did survive for many, many weeks with minimal supplies in dangerous conditions, and he very conceivably could have made it out alive. But his way of thinking, that he can do anything as long as he truly has the determination to do it, and is willing to suffer while doing it, is not, in the end, correct.