Into Thin Air

Loyalty and Its Consequences in 'Into Thin Air' 8th Grade

Literary theorist and critic Roland Barthes once said, “Literature is the question minus the answer.” In Jon Krakauer's novel Into Thin Air, the author questions if he is loyal enough to his teammates to take the chance of forfeiting his summit push or even putting his life into their hands. On the South Summit, Krakauer fails to help the guide Andy Harris, an example of how the breakdown of loyalty can lead to disastrous consequences, while Anatoli Boukreev's heroism on the South Col provides an example of loyalty, selflessness, and good judgment. Rob Hall's late ill-judged summit push with his client, however, provides an example to the reader where an excessive amount of loyalty can also lead to devastating consequences, or in Hall's case, death.

When Krakauer abandons responsibility on the South Summit, his breakdown of loyalty leads to a tour guide's death. On the South Col, instead of helping Andy with his regulator, Krakauer decides not to argue with Andy about whether or not there were full oxygen bottles: "Turning to Andy, I said, 'No big deal, Harold. Much ado about nothing.' Then I grabbed a new oxygen canister, screwed it onto my regulator, and headed down the mountain" (188). Desperate to get down the mountain,...

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