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Transcendentalism Essay

1362 words - 6 pages

What does it take for someone to be considered a transcendentalist? Can someone be a transcendentalist if they do not mean to be one? In the life of Chris McCandless, many transcendental aspects are exhibited, such as nonconformity and self-reliance, but experts and readers are left wondering whether or not to consider him a transcendentalist. McCandless exhibits these traits willingly, which leads most readers to call him a transcendentalist. Chris McCandless is a transcendentalist because he knowingly follows the transcendental tenets and is heavily influenced by the works of the transcendentalists before him. Examples of the tenets that he follows are nonconformity, love and treasury of nature, self-reliance and free thought.
McCandless exhibits the transcendental tenet of nonconformity in his actions throughout his journey. First, McCandless did not connect with society, because he hated that people were left to die. He believed in equality, a transcendental ideal, so when his car broke down on his road trip to Alaska “he abandoned it in the Arizona desert” (4). He then proceeded “to bury most of his worldly possessions in the parched earth of Detrital Wash and then ... burned his last remaining cash” (4). These acts signify that he refuses to be materialistic and conform to society standards, but he chooses to live by his own morals. Second, in the movie, McCandless visits a bar with his coworkers where he explains his dislike of society. He says, “Society, man! You know, society! Cause, you know what I don't understand? I don't understand why people, why every f*****g person is so bad to each other so f*****g often. It doesn't make sense to me. Judgment. Control. All that, the whole spectrum” (00:46:53). He is disgusted with the people that make of society, and the judgmental and mean nature of the people that conform to society’s rules. This is why Chris believes that he is better suited to being a nonconformist. Lastly, when McCandless leaves the car of the man who takes him to Denali National Park he leaves all of the unimportant items he has in the car for the man to have. While leaving the car he says, “I don’t want to know what time it is ... I don’t want to know what day it is, or where I am. None of that matters” (2). He is talking of how little value material items give to society, but how often the are used. Society is in a constant rush and McCandless believes that people need to slow down their lives and appreciate nature. Thoreau said something similar in ‘Walden’, which is “Hardly a man takes a half-hour's nap after dinner, but when he wakes he holds up his head and asks, ‘What's the news?’ as if the rest of mankind had stood his sentinels” (Walden). They both criticize the pace of society and the need for material possessions to live. Thus, McCandless also is considered a transcendentalist because of his love of nature, not only nonconformity.
Chris McCandless is a transcendentalist because his love for nature and his...

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