Into the Wild

What comparisons does krauker make between his climb and chris mcCandless' attempt to live in Alaskan wilderness?

Chapter 15

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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.