The Effects Of Henry David Thoureau, Jack London, And Leo Tolstoy On Mccandless Philosophy In Into The Wild By Jorn Krakauer
The story, “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer is based on a true story of Chris McCandless, a Emory University graduate who made top student and athlete. However, instead of embarking on a prestigious and profitable career, he chooses to give his savings to charity, rid himself of his possessions, and set out on a journey to the Alaskan wilderness. McCandless philosophy was shaped by the works of various literary figures, especially Henry David Thoureau, Jack London, and Leo Tolstoy. These great minds influenced Chris in his moral principles and his desires to enter and continue his journey that inspired Krakauer to write this very book. These writers all impacted McCandless life in various ways but the writers who affected McCandless the most was Jack London and Henry David Thoureau.
London inspired Chris McCandless’s philosophy because they both believed the environment shaped the individual and sought out an environment that would better shape him. His novels, such as The Call of the Wild and The Fang quite literally as a call to live in the wild to seek one’s true potential. Thoureau also inspired McCandless because he believed in order to live freely, one must become self-sustaining, perceptive, and meditative, to get in touch with nature.
In the book “Into the Wild”, Krakauer states “Jack London is King, Alexander Supertramp, May 1992.” This quote was written by Chris McCandless when he was in Alaska. It was found near the bus where he died, and was written as graffiti for any hikers to see if they happened to find it. McCandless did not write this for any reason other than to share his appreciation and admiration of Jack London. This quote was included by Krakauer at the beginning of chapter two. Krakauer included this quote as a simple way for the readers to understand Chris’s opinion of Jack London. He does this because after this quote there is a passage from Jack London’s book White Fang. This makes an introduction to a more important passage that contribute more to the overall message of the story, and why Chris was so fascinated with London’s writing.
Another example from the novel states “Dark spruce forest frowned on either side the frozen waterway. The trees had been stripped by a recent wind of their white covering of frost, and they seemed to lean toward each other, black and ominous, in the fading light. A vast silence reigned over the land. The land itself was a desolation, lifeless, without movement, so lone and cold that the spirit of it was not even that of sadness. There was a hint in it of laughter, but of a laughter more terrible than any sadness-a laughter that was mirthless as the smile of the Sphinx, a laughter cold as the frost and partaking of the grimness of infallibility. It was the masterful and incommunicable wisdom of eternity laughing at the futility of life and the effort of life. It was the Wild, the savage, frozenhearted Northland Wild. -Jack London, White Fang.” It was included directly after the first quote that was mentioned. Krakauer includes the quote there because it is a great example of Jack London’s writing, and since he was so important to Chris it can help the reader understand why. When you read this passage you can imagine the vivid landscape of the wild that Jack London describes. It is the first time the reader is introduced to the idea of the Wild. It is hard to imagine what the Alaskan wild can truly look like while reading this novel. This passage helps the reader develop an understanding of what the Wild is actually like.
One of the reasons McCandless was so influenced by Jack London is the fact that they both had a great understanding of how amazing the natural beauty of how the world truly is. Henry David Thoreau states “No man ever followed his genius till it misled him. Though the results were bodily weakness, yet perhaps no one can say that the consequences were to be regretted, for these were a life in conformity to higher principles. If the day and night are such that you greet then with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal-that is your success. All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself. The greatest gains and values are farthest from being appreciated. We easily come to doubt if they exist. We soon forget them. They are the highest reality . . .
The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which i have clutched.” This passage was included as a quote at the very beginning of chapter six. It was highlighted by Chris McCandless when he was in Alaska, and was found with him. This passage was placed here because it reflects of Chris ideas about life, which are similar to those expressed by Thoreau. It is a great example of Chris’s morals because it explains why he traveled to Alaska, and chose to live a nomadic life. Chris lived and followed a code of principles that only he truly understood. Like this passage states, life and nature are so unappreciated even though they are so amazing. Chris loved the beauty and the wonder that nature itself contains, and like Thoreau he believes that they are forgotten.
In “To Build a Fire” by Jack London, he states “I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.” Chris’s ambitions in life was to be one with the nature and explore. He wanted to discover the world for himself. It did not matter to him if the world called him weak minded or dumb, he strive for what he wanted. Chasing his dream meant more to him than
McCandless admire these two writers because they did not have the desires to confirm along with other writers of the standards of writing or philosophies. Thoreau wrote a book that gave readers the impression that he was a cranky hermit but he was later praised for Civil Disobedience that enlightened in the world of politics as well as literature. London was the adventurous writer who traveled in all these places that inspired him to write his praised work. London lucrative success in writing motivated Chris to apply something to his life that would push him to the fullest limit.
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