Into The Wild Themes

4 Subjects Explored In John Krakauer's 'Into The Wild' That Teach Us About The Human Condition

From an ambitious young man who died in the Alaskan wilderness, we can learn so much about how and how not to live life to its fullest.


Sophomores and juniors in their language arts classes across north Georgia learn about the literary movement transcendentalism with its reverence for nature, its emphasis on self-reliance and its disdain of blind obedience. And while some teachers are making students read classic transcendentalist pieces, such as "Walden" by Henry David Thoreau or "Self Reliance" by Ralph Waldo Emerson, others are choosing to add a book called "Into The Wild" to the mix.

Documenting the life and journey of a young man named Christopher McCandless, "Into The Wild" synthesizes multiple stories and accounts about this person into a fascinating piece that touches many other aspects of humanity besides what's found in transcendentalism.

As a restless, passionate and stubborn idealist, McCandless renounced his parents and his middle-class life for a nomadic lifestyle across the American wilderness in order to find spiritual fulfillment that culminated with his death in Alaska. His shortcomings, mistakes and triumphs along the way illuminate many subjects that teach readers what it means to be human and how to lead a life filled with purpose in contemporary society. Here in this article are four particularly interesting ones about risk, comfort, duty and relationships.

1. Modern living in contemporary society

To people with a certain mindset, the modern world with all of its comforts, luxuries and privileges seems empty, hollow and confining. Though the real reason McCandless abandoned his old life for this extreme lifestyle of on the brink starvation and adventure is unknown, one can hypothesize that it might've been because of the dull, monotonous routine of ordinary life.

Most people at some point have had a crisis where they recognize the sheer pointlessness and hopelessness of living a life that is basically predestined for them. Eventually, working, eating and sleeping becomes such a pervasive, never-ending cycle that all the effort spent on grades, jobs, raises and promotions seems purposeless. In escaping from this, McCandless hoped to regain control of his life and in the process, find a renewed sense of purpose by living every day filled with novelty.

Though we often criticize him for being too stubborn to recognize reality, maybe we are too eager to flee to the comfort of stability. McCandless's satisfaction and fulfillment with his life reveal that pushing ourselves to the limits through adventure can possibly bring greater joy and enrichment in a world where we live for our future instead of ourselves.

2. The appeal of danger and exploration

Sitting in a warm, cozy, well heated home away from the brute force of nature, it's easy to believe McCandless was an insane, misled masochist whose goal was to throw away his life and kill himself. At some point, one starts to wonder why he subjected himself to so much suffering, pain and terror. However, perhaps there was a reason for his obsession with being on the brink of death.

As more and more things are done for people and they become increasingly removed from nature, existence seems to become more filtered and dulled. Predictability and guaranteed safety often water down experiences making accomplishment handed over on a silver spoon instead of actually being earned by merit. So despite having everything around him, McCandless never had raw, unfettered experience with nature where he controlled his own destiny and identity.

In seeking this experience, McCandless teaches us that it's okay to flirt with uncertainty and danger because they add excitement to our lives along with the awareness of our own mortality. Though this awareness definitely puts us in our place, it also adds to the thrill. After all, there's nothing that makes you feel more alive than knowing you could die at any minute.

3. The dehumanization of parents

A major part of what prompted McCandless to resort to such extreme adventure was his inability to see his parents as human. Ironically, he often treated those closest to him the harshest because he saw them enough to develop a certain set of expectations or a moral code as to how they should act. This is how he was able to overlook the hypocrisy of some of his biggest heroes while constantly criticizing his parents.

When Chris McCandless found out that his father had a life before him, had made mistakes and was not perfect, he was unable to forgive him. Instead, he became more angry, radical and isolated because he never saw his dad as human but as a "dad." This assumption and strict moral code caused him to take for granted what a parent should be, offer little room for forgiveness and harbor dangerous resentment.

Thus, McCandless can teach us to not get angry at our loved ones just because they are different from what we assumed they were but to better understand them as a human being instead.

4. Responsibility and obligation in relationships

When Chris McCandless was alive on his journey, he was not some antisocial hermit or psychopathic misanthrope. He was a charming, young man who left a deep impact on all he encountered. Why then, did he leave them all behind after a few weeks hurting and devastating them along with his family?

As Chris McCandless tried to free himself from the "corrupting" influences of others and discover who he was on his own, he avoided responsibility and ties that would trap him in the same unhappy lifestyle he came to escape from. Though he enjoyed company, he never stayed long enough to form a bond or relationship because that came with duty, obligation, commitment and reciprocation. When he acted so friendly to those he met that didn't share this mentality, he ended up hurting many who were mislead into thinking he was going to stay with them.

Though many label him as selfish for causing so many of his friends pain, his behavior is one that raises important questions about freedom and duty along with the relationship between self-interest and sacrifice for others.

Should we stay in relationships with others if it costs us our happiness and freedom? Is responsibility and mutual care something we need to survive? Is it justified to hurt others to pursue our own interests? If not, how do we make ourselves happy while keeping others happy as well? McCandless brings these questions up as he interacts with people along his odyssey.

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My Freckles Are Not A Beauty Trend For You To Appropriate And Immitate

Those with faces full of freckles can't wipe them off like you can after a photo shoot.


While it is fun to use makeup to express yourself, one can argue unless you are in costume, it should be used to enhance your features, not create new ones. The trend of artificial freckles puts a nasty taste in my mouth reminiscent to the feeling I get when I see a Caucasian woman apply such dark foundation to her face that she appears to be donning blackface.

To someone who has a face full of freckles, it is offensive to see you paint on freckles as if they were not permanent features of other people's skin that they cannot remove with a makeup wipe. I remember asking my cousin at 5 years old if I could surgically remove my freckles and crying when she broke to me that I'd be stuck with what she called giraffe spots my whole life.

I'm not alone in feeling self-conscious about my freckles. The face is the fulcrum of the identity, and it can feel like my facial identity is like a haphazard splash of orange/brown debris. Another against the fake freckles movement retorts: "you'll soon regret them when people begin to describe you as a polka-dot-skinned troll or a cinnamon-toast-faced goblin. Also, when your eyebags start to sag in middle-age, that 'cute' skin art will probably deteriorate into something more closely resembling oblong blackheads. Sincerely, A Freckled Person"

One woman recalls her struggle with accepting the patterns of her skin from a very young age:

“When I was a young girl, I remember staring at myself in my bathroom mirror and imagining my face without the scattered brown dots that littered my face and body. I dreamed of having the small imperfections removed from my face and obtaining the smooth porcelain skin that I envied. I looked at my bare-faced friends in awe because they had what I wanted and would never know. For some odd reason, I had made myself believe that my freckles made me ugly."

I've come to appreciate the beauty of these sun kisses, and many nowadays have too. However, freckles haven't always been considered cute. There is a history of contempt toward red reader freckled people, just ask Anne Shirley! The dramatic young heroine laments: "Yes, it's red," she said resignedly. "Now you see why I can't be perfectly happy. Nobody could who had red hair. I don't mind the other things so much — the freckles and the green eyes and my skinniness. I can imagine them away. I can imagine that I have a beautiful rose-leaf complexion and lovely starry violet eyes. But I cannot imagine that red hair away. I do my best. I think to myself, "Now my hair is a glorious black, black as the raven's wing." But all the time I know it is just plain red, and it breaks my heart. It will be my lifelong sorrow." (Montgomery).

Historically, freckles on ones face have been seen as dirty or imperfect. It's easy to forget that Irish features such as red hair and freckles have been subject to hateful discrimination for centuries. In some places, the word ginger is even used as a slur.

I am not a red-headed stepchild for you to beat — or for you to appropriate.

My facial texture is not a toy for you to play with.

It is rude and inconsiderate to pock your face for a selfie while those with randomly splashed spots get someone once a week trying to rub off the "dirt speck" on their face.

Greg Stevens has a theory to why there is anti-red prejudice

“Skin tone is another one of those well-studied features that has been shown to consistently have an impact on people's assessment of physical beauty: Those with clear, evenly-colored skin are widely regarded as being more attractive than people with patchy, blotchy, or freckled skin.
Nowhere is this more obvious than when looking at professional photos of redheaded models and celebrities. Even those "hot redheads" that flaunt the redness of their hair usually are made-up on magazine covers to have almost unnaturally even skin tones. Moreover, there is a reasonable theory to explain why the bias against freckles might be more than just a cultural prejudice. Not to be too blunt about it, but freckles are cancer factories."

By that, the author means freckles can be early indicators of sun damage or skin cancer. This illusion that freckles indicate deficiency may also play in negative connotations toward a person with freckles

While I acknowledge the intention of people with clear skin who paint freckles on their face isn't to offend — rather it is to appreciate freckles as a beauty statement — the effect is still offensive. If you are thinking about trying this freckle fad, you should put down your fine tipped brush and consider what it would be like if you couldn't wipe away the spots.


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Remaining NBA Playoffs Matchup Predictions

NBA playoff predictions


With the NBA Season coming to a close after 82 games and multiple playoff games, I wanted to predict the remaining NBA series's and who would win. Let's start!

Eastern Conference Semi-Finals: Sixers in 6 vs Raptors


This one's pretty simple, The Sixers have more firepower, they have better chemistry, and they have a better coach. The Raptors are still adjusting to the Kawhi era and might take them a couple years for their chemistry to improve. The Sixers should win this series in six, but only because Kawhi is good enough to win two games by himself.

Eastern Conference Semi-Finals: Bucks in 5 vs Celtic


The Greak Freek is so good he can single-handedly beat this Celtics roster with Kyrie and Tatum. The Celtics have been suffering since late in the season and Giannis is here to expose that. Mike Budenholzer has made the Bucks into a complete team and they should easily dismantle last year's Eastern Conference Finals Losers.

Western Conference Semi-Finals: Blazers in 7 vs Nuggets


It's always Dame Time in Portland. Dame is leading his team fast and furious in the playoffs. He is averaging over 30 points a game and is carrying the Blazers. Him and CJ are a formidable duo. While Denver has great players, I believe in a 7 game series the Blazers will outplay them.

Western Conference Semi-Finals: Warriors in 6


The Warriors are the greatest team in the NBA this season. I'm not tired of how good they are because of Steph Curry. Often it seems like they don't try when they're playing, but I am sure that when it counts they will be able to oust the Rockets.

Eastern Conference Finals: Bucks vs Sixers: Sixers in 7


The Bucks vs the Sixers; two young teams battling it out to be the East's best. Who will win? Not going to lie if this happens it will be the best series in the playoffs. This series will definitely go to 7 games and the matter of fact is the winner of this may be lucky to keep on moving. Based on talent I took the Sixers, but with Giannis anything can happen so watch out!

Western Conference Finals: Warriors vs Trail Blazers: Warriors in 5


To make it simple, the Warriors talent makes the Blazers look like a high school JV team. Dame might be like the outlier and help the Blazers win one game, but otherwise the Warriors will make it look easy and go past this series easily.

NBA Finals: Warriors vs Sixers: Warriors in 4


The Warriors will finally find their momentum by the time the Finals rolls around and should easily sweep the Sixers. The Sixers lack experience in the Finals and even the playoffs that much to be honest and it will show. The Warriors will be too much for them and will dismantle the Sixers in 4 games.

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