Thursday, May 6, 2010
Into the Wild - Jon Krakauer
Fantastic read. Easy, short reading. I already gave my copy away for a friend to read. If you want the cliff notes, watch the movie. It's fairly accurate and powerful.
Chris is a young man who grew up in suburbia with a father who expected a lot out of him and never cut him slack in spite of his accomplishments. Chris is a smart, independent guy who successfully graduates from Emory University with top standing and entertains the idea of following his education with law school as his parents have envisaged for him.
He however decides to donate his life savings to a charity and trek his way toward Alaska instead. He takes on a new name, Alexander Supertramp, and essentially sheds his past behind him with nothing but his backpack. His charm, passion and tough work ethic allows him to befriend strangers easily through parts of the US and up toward Canada, where he ultimately dies after reaching Alaska. It's a tragic tale but a very romantic one in that Chris is able to go against his grain and deeply imbibe himself to his passion of exploring nature away from all consumerism. He idealizes writers such as Jack London and Henry David Thoreau. The author does well to paint contrasting views of Chris's actions as a passionate man following his heart to an irresponsible, thankless romantic whose naivety eventually led to his own death and family abandonment.
Chris's deeply rooted convictions are tied back to the revelation that his father abandoned his previous wife to wed his mother. That ill feeling never washed away from Chris and caused the rift with his father. This led him to embrace deep values of integrity, hard work, and simplicity.
I really liked identifying myself with Chris because his insistence on a naive approach to viewing people coupled with an unforgiving attitude to some iniquities.
One bit about the book I didn't appreciate too much was how the author wrote his own survival stories and contrasted them to Chris. Chris is almost a martyr for simple, bold, reckless living whereas Jon simply writes about himself to try to help us identify with Chris's plight. Chris's tale was enough for me. His character is a force to be reckoned with.