Jon Krakauer is the author of the non-fiction book ‘Into the Wild’, written in the year 1996. This book is considered to be Krakauer’s expansion of an article titled ‘Death of an Innocent’ that was about Christopher McCandless. This article premiered in the ‘Outside’ issue in the year 1993 on January. Later on, in the year 2007, this book was made into a movie that starred Emile Hirsch and Sean Penn, in the role of an actor and director respectively. A key theme in, ‘Into the Wild’, is the relationship that fathers had with their sons (Krakauer 12). These relationships seemed to affect the manner which most characters related with each other. This paper seeks to give a critical analysis of the father and son relationship between McCandless and his father. Furthermore, it will analyze their relationship based on the real life relation that Krakauer had with his own father.
A famous chemistry law claims that natural elements often tend to move from a state of pure order to chaos or disorder. However, this does not in any way apply to the behavior of human beings. There are times when young people display some outlandish behavior and this is witnessed by outsiders. People sometimes have the tendency to throw themselves into a state of disorder depending on the issues affecting them. When adolescence begins, usually rebellion comes along and this makes the young people behave in an unruly manner. In turn, the young person might decide that they need to escape from their families so as to have some order in their lives. Therefore, what often seems as being chaotic behavior is in reality order and balance regardless of whether the person in personal journey is aware of it or not. Therefore, when reading ‘Into the Wild’, there are many stories of young men who expressed behavior that was insane and irrational. It is through the behavior of the book’s key character Christopher McCandless, who made a brave journey into the wild, that controversy and emotion is experienced by the reader (Krakauer 46). Another man who had similar experiences with McCandless was Jon Krakauer. He was a man who wanted to find a balance in his life through going to where nature is. McCandless, who is an individual that fascinates Krakauer wanted to create for himself a new life and thus believed it would be possible if he was far away from his family. He wanted to engage in a nomadic existence that would take place in the wilderness. The writings by Jack London inspired him and thus went to the Alaskan Wilderness. He wanted to find his inner peace and was not looking to discover new scenery as some people would think. In the wilderness, he would be able to get rid of his turbulent emotions that had stemmed from the complicated and troubled relationship with his father (Krakauer 79). From the manner which he decided to deal with his feelings and relationships, it is evident that the wanted his identity to change. Also, he did not want to become trapped in any form of human relationships, which are intimate. It is after staying alone in the wilderness for a long time that McCandless started to acknowledge and become soft to the issue of human relationships. Even when reading a passage by Dr. Zhigayo that McCandless realized that there was no point of staying in the wild, and he had to go back to real life. His great and final adventure had to come to an end, and get back to a world that he would socialize with others. McCandless had realized that in order to obtain peace, he had to surround himself with other human beings and forgive his father (Krakauer 91). It is only when people forgive others that they will be able to find the peace that they are looking for.
Krakauer researched about the relationship McCandless had with his father and his family and found out that there was a non-existent relationship. McCandless did not approve of his father’s materialism as well as his hypocrisy, and thus rebelled against him. Also, he had found that Walt was a bigamist and this enraged him even further, and this anger seemed to affect the relationships that he had with other people while on his journey. Krakauer believed that the reason why McCandless disappeared from his family is because of the anger and rage that he felt towards his father (Krakauer 94). To add on, Krakauer made the reader of this book know that he had a similar problem with his own father known as Lewis. It was quite evident that the father and son relationship in ‘Into the Wild’ would suffer from a potential dysfunction and thus this makes it a key theme in the book. Both McCandless and Krakauer are known to be extremely ambitious individuals and at the same time, their fathers are as ambitious as them. In turn, problems were bound to occur because the sons and fathers seemed to be competing against each other. Furthermore, the fathers had their own ambitions that they wanted their son’s to achieve and unfortunately, it was not what the sons wanted. The sons proved that they had passion and strong wills with regards to their own ambition. For example, McCandless was in love with anti-materialist living and the wilderness, while Krakauer loved engaging in mountain climbing (Krakauer 127). The result is that great rifts were created between the son and father as they could not share the same interests and values. Krakauer and McCandless did everything possible to please their parents as well as resenting authority at the same time. It is during this time that the sons discovered that their fathers were not as mighty as they wanted their sons to believe, and this made the rift between them even greater. It is fortunate that Krakauer forgave his father after he changed and became a different man. However, tragedy befell McCandless, and he was not able to get rid of his anger towards his father as he died before he could settle his differences with his father. Christopher McCandless was not able to realize that the things that he left behind was what he really needed in his life. His story is that of a young man who wanted to be free from the guardianship of his parents. He wanted to find out about the power and meaning of life as well as what it means to be independent. He had a desire to accomplish all these in the nature of the wilderness (Krakauer 152). Any person who can easily leave their comfortable life, and go and far away from their parents, indeed has relationship problems. The shame that McCandless felt because of the secrets his family had made him to believe that he had been deceived. Even though Walt had split form Marcia his first wife, their parting was not amicable or clean. Later on, he fell in love with McCandless mother Billie, and they even had a son, but this did not stop Walt from having a secret relationship with Marcia. This means that Walt often spent time with the two households and he did this in secrecy. After some time, Walt’s lies caught up with him and he was exposed, and his family got to know about his deception. The deception continued until Marcia bore a son known as Quinn McCandless, and upon his other family finding out they were inflicted with deep wounds and Christopher was deeply affected. When McCandless life was about to come to an end, he realized that it was not fair to shed off or get rid of his biological family. His father had always been there for him even though he did not show it most times. It is unfortunate that it took him as many as two years to realize this important fact. Later on, he realized that his family was extremely important to him and he wrote something concerning this issue (Krakauer 205). The only time when happiness is real is when it is shared with others. By realizing his mistakes of often judging his father harshly, McCandless became a better man because he had met other families along his journey. It is surprising to see what nature can do to change the attitude of a person who never wanted any association with his father.
Most times, because of non-existent relationships between parents and their children, the children tend to behave in an unruly manner. This is especially evident if they find out about the double lives and infidelity of their parents. In turn, the children tend to feel unloved and hurt because their parents have decided to love other people instead of them. With regards to McCandless, he felt shame and anger because of his father’s deception and lies (Krakauer 180). While on his journey in the wilderness, McCandless met some other three families and often tried to replace his own family with them. While at South Dakota, he met Mr. Westerberg a successful man in many ways, whether bad or good. The other family, which he met, was in Arata California, and they were Bob and Jan Burres. They were willing to support him in order to make his journey into the wild more comfortable. However, the person who seemed to have the tightest bond with McCandless was Ronald Franz whom he met at Anza-Borrego Desert found at the California State Park. These people seemed to offer him the support and love that he did not have at home, however, they were not his father. A real father and son relationship cannot be easily replaced by other father figures if they have not spent a considerable amount of time together.
In conclusion, ‘Into the Wild’ is an intriguing book about the relationships human beings have with one another. McCandless was bitter and angry at his father because of his deception. This is a similar story that other people in the same situation can relate to. It took a long journey into the wilderness to make McCandless realize that he had to appreciate his family and mostly his father. Indeed, people need to have meaningful and beneficial relationships with their families in order to prosper in life.
Krakauer. Jon. Into the Wild. New York: Anchor, 1997.Print.
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