Not All Who Wander Are Lost
Henry Thoreau, an author and philosopher, once said, “Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensible, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind. “ Society today is surrounded by this idea of materialism. Children’s birthday parties, religious holidays, advertisements, and life in general are all defined by the amount of money spent on countless ‘things’. Ask yourself, are all these ‘comforts of life’ necessary? As for Chris McCandless, he firmly believed in a life of simplicity rather than a life of complexity. His admiration to live life as a dreamer, a doer, and extremist has, and continues to, impact others through Jon Krakauer’s novel, Into the Wild. As Krakauer gives an in-depth description of Chris’s journey and personal life, there is no denying that the young adventurer’s noble qualities makes him nothing short of a hero.
Picture traveling through Alaska, venturing from place to place, having little to nothing, taking each day as it comes, and being able to encounter all the things, people, and places many only dream about. This is what Christopher McCandless sets out to do. In the movie we hear Chris say, “if you want something in life, just reach out and grab it.” (Penn, “Into the Wild”) Most people set their goals around what society expects of them. Their born, go to school, then more school, upon graduating they get a nine-to-five job, marry at a certain age, have children, ensure their children live the same life, retire, and ultimately count down the days until they die. That’s life right? McCandless grew up in an environment much like this and knew that was far from what he wanted.
Throughout his travels many, if not all, the people he comes across ask him why he’s choosing to live this way. His response is one worth pondering when he says, "So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind. But in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit of a man than a secure future...." (Krakauer, 58)
McCandless life growing up was one many would consider privileged. His parents, particularly his fathers, career enabled Chris and his sister Carine, not to have to be able to experience economic hardships. Despite this, he becomes a man that has no desire for wealth or material items. This trait about Chris is evident from the beginning when we find out that he gives away thousands of dollars to charity prior to leaving town. Many argue that he is naïve, but Krakauer explains that McCandless considers his pecuniary advantages to be “shameful, corrupting, and inherently evil” (Krakauer 115) which ultimately drove him to feel embarrassed of where he came from and what he has. He puts a tremendous amount of insistence for equality throughout his life....