Into the Wild. By Jon Krakauer. www.intothewild.com. The Media. “Death of an Innocent” 9,000-word article by Jon Krakauer appeared in Outside , Jan. 1993 Into the Wild novel by Jon Krakauer published 1996 “The Cult of Chris McCandless”
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Into the Wild By Jon Krakauer
The Media • “Death of an Innocent” • 9,000-word article by Jon Krakauer appeared in Outside, Jan. 1993 • Into the Wild novel by Jon Krakauer published 1996 • “The Cult of Chris McCandless” • article by Matthew Power appeared in Men’s Journal, Sept. 2007 • Into the Wild film produced 2007 • Note: various other articles have been written in addition to television interviews and coverage.
Jon Krakauer • “Adventure” enthusiast • Experienced hiker, climber, and writer • Eiger Dreams • Into Thin Air • Under the Banner of Heaven • editor of the Modern Library Exploration series
Chris McCandless • “Alexander Supertramp” • Decomposed body found in bus (Alaska) in September 1992 • From affluent East Coast family • Emory University alumni (1990) • Two-year “odyssey” from 1990-1992
Quick Write #1: Future Plans • Think about some alternative plans you might have instead of beginning college immediately after high school. What might you do, why would you do it, and how long do you see yourself in this activity? (Get specific!)
Author’s Note • How long did Chris McCandless’ journey in the Alaskan wilderness last? • Immediately after graduating from Emory University in 1990, Chris McCandless dropped out of sight. List 5 things that he did to support his “plan”. • What are some themes Krakauer mentions are the result of his “meandering inquiry”? • What do you think Krakauer means when he states “I won’t claim to be an impartial biographer”? • What reason does Krakauer offer for writing this book?
Chapter 1: “The Alaska Interior” • Chapter 1 begins with a postcard addressed to Wayne Westerberg. Why do you think Krakauer begins his novel this way? Explain. • Who is Jim Gallien? What does he do for Alex? • According to Jim, what does Alex intend to do? • Which items/possessions does Alex take with him into the Alaskan bush? • Jim Gallien thought about informing the Alaska State Troopers about Alex and his intentions. Why does he change his mind? Explain.
Jack London (1876-1916) • Born in San Francisco to a poor family • As a child he was an avid reader, especially stories of real-life adventure • As a teen he joined the “oyster pirates” and was a sailor • Attended HS for one year, passed the entrance exams for UC Berkeley, but quit halfway through freshman year (did some writing)
Jack London continued • 1897-took off to prospect for gold in the Klondike (part of Yukon Territory in NW Canada), got sick, and returned in less than a year • Klondike experience convinced him that “life is a struggle in which the strong survive and the weak do not” • Short stories and novels dramatize his belief that “civilized” beings are either destroyed or re-created in savage environments • Call of the Wild & White Fang • Millionaire, but an alcoholic, London suffered from kidney disease and depression • Pain was unendurable, so he committed suicide (drugs) and died at age 40
White Fang • The remarkable story of a fiercely independent creature of the wild. • In the desolate, frozen wilds of north-west Canada, a wolf-cub soon finds himself the sole survivor of his litter. Son of Kiche-half-wolf, half-dog- and the aging wolf One Eye, he is thrust into a savage world where each day becomes a fight to stay alive.
The Call of the Wild • When gold was discovered in the Yukon in 1896, Jack London caught the fever and rushed off to the northlands to try his luck. When he returned home, he had not mined an ounce of gold but brought back a greater treasure—vivid recollections of rugged life in the frozen wastelands. London converted his experiences into exciting adventure tales, including The Call of the Wild, which has been called his masterpiece.
The Call of the Wild continued • It tells the story of the magnificent dog Buck, who is a loyal pet until cruel men make him a pawn in their search for the gold of the Klondike. Brutally treated, Buck finds the blood of his world ancestors rising within him and breaks free to roam the Alaskan wilderness as leader of a ferocious pack.
Chapter 2: “The Stampede Trail” • Why do you think Krakauer begins with a passage from Jack London’s White Fang? Explain. • In 1961, what did Yutan Construction purchase in order to house the construction workers who were upgrading the Stampede Trail? What did they leave behind? • How many people arrived at the bus on September 6, 1992? Give their names and the order in which they arrived on the scene. • What did these people discover? • What details does Krakauer give when describing the remains of Chris McCandless?
Leo Tolstoy: 1828-1910 • Russian • Studied law and Oriental languages at Kazan University • teachers said he was “unwilling and unable to learn” • diaries reveal his “insatiable thirst for a rational and moral justification of life”
Tolstoy continued • Military experience, but later a pacifist and considered a “moral” philosopher • Influenced Gandhi and MLK, Jr. • Drifted towards a more oriental worldview with Buddhist overtones, • learned to feel himself in other living creatures • Realist fiction, realistic depiction of 19th-century Russian life • War and Peace & Anna Karenina
Quick Write #2: Beliefs • Think about some of YOUR beliefs. What do you believe in? Why? How do your beliefs shape who you are? Where does your set of beliefs come from? What do your beliefs “look” like?
Greetings from…! • Refer back to your Quick write #1 and your future plans. • Think about some alternative plans you might have instead of beginning college immediately after high school. What might you do, why would you do it, and how long do you see yourself in this activity? (Get specific!) • Use this to help you write your postcard, or chose a new destination • See assignment hand out for details
________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________ Dear…, May 12, 2008 12 point font Single space ¾ page OR Really nice hand writing Ink ¾ page
Chapter 3: “Carthage” • Who is Wayne Westerberg? How would you describe him? • What do we learn about Chris McCandless through Westerberg’s testimonial? • What does Chris give Wayne before leaving Carthage? Why do you think he gave it to him? • Where is Chris originally from? • What was Chris’ home life like? Explain. • Based on the letter Chris sent to his sister Carine and the note he later sent to his parents, what do we learn about Chris’ relationship with his family? Explain.
Chapter 4: “Detrital Wash” • From the point of view of the Datsun, describe what happened to you from the time Chris reached Detrital Wash to the present day. • What “unnecessary baggage” does Chris shed? • Who are Jan Burres and Bob? How does Chris keep in touch with them? • Once he reaches the Colorado River, where does Chris travel and how? What was his ultimate goal? How does he end up achieving this goal?
Chapter 5: “Bullhead City” • Where does Chris work while staying in Bullhead City? • Give two examples of things Chris’s co-workers remember about him. • What is life like at The Slabs? • Who does Chris meet up with again at The Slabs? How does he spend his time there?
Henry David Thoreau: 1817-1862 • Transcendentalist • “He seemed born for great enterprise and for command.” – Emerson (about Thoreau) • Abandons life in society and moves to Walden Pond. Writes Walden. • “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” -- Thoreau • “I wish to meet the facts of life.” – Thoreau • His essay, Civil Disobedience, inspired the idea of passive resistance used by Gandhi and MLK Jr.
Chapter 6: “Anza-Borrego” • Who is Ron Franz? How do he and Chris meet? • List three pieces of information from Franz’s background story. Why might Krakauer spend time explaining Franz’s background? • Describe both the people and location of Oh-my-God Hot Springs. • List five items that Chris etches into his leather belt. • While “riding the rails” Chris encounters a “bull”. From the context of the story, what is a bull? • In his letter to Ron, what advice does Chris give? Does Ron take Chris’s advice? Do you agree with the advice given? Would you take it? Explain.
Chapter 7: “Carthage” • How do Wayne Westerberg’s girlfriend, Gail Borah, and his mother, Mary, react to Chris McCandless? • List three things you learn about Chris that might point to his innocence. • List three things you learn about Chris that might point to his arrogance. • How does Chris plan to travel to Alaska? Why does he choose this method? • Reread the postcards that Chris sends to Wayne Westerberg and Jan Burres. Was Chris expecting to die? Defend your answer.
Ch. 6 & 7 – Digging Deeper • Ronald Franz and Chris McCandless establish a father-son type of relationship. Identify one benefit or drawback (using a quote) that each gets out of the relationship. • Before Chris leaves for Alaska, Wayne Westerberg offers to buy him a plane ticket. Chris refuses, however, claiming, “flying would be cheating. It would wreck the whole trip” (67). Find and explain two quotes from this chapter that demonstrate whether or not Chris actually lives by his own words. • Additional Discussion Topic: “So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure” (57).
Chapters 8-10: “Alaska” “Davis Gulch” “Fairbanks” • Look at the epigraph at the beginning of Ch. 8, on page 70. Why were these two quotes placed together? What is the common theme that Krakauer is trying to convey? • On page 71 Nick Jans offers the following criticism: “I’ve run into several McCandless types out in the country. Same story: idealistic, energetic young guys who overestimated themselves, underestimated the country, and ended up in trouble.” Do you agree with Jans? Was Chris naïve and ignorant? Or, do you think he was adventurous and noble? Defend your position. • What is the purpose of using the stories of other people in chapters 8-9? What do you think is Krakauer’s reasoning behind this choice? Is he successful? • Were you surprised that Chris left trails so that the authorities could find out who he was? • What’s in a name? Chris uses a number of different aliases throughout his journey in order to distance himself from his past and those who knew him. Do names matter?
Quick Write #3: What’s in a Name? • What’s in a Name? • Does it matter that we have the name we were given by our parents? • How do names matter?
Boris Pasternak: 1890-1960 • Russian poet and novelist born in Moscow to a cultured Jewish family • Best known for his novel, Dr. Zhivago (1957) • Won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958 • Presented Zhivago's inability to influence his own fate not as a fault, but as a sign that he was destined to become an artistic witness to the tragedy of his age. (War and revolution). • “I don't like people who have never fallen or stumbled. Their virtue is lifeless and it isn't of much value. Life hasn't revealed its beauty to them.” – Boris Pasternak
Doctor Zhivago • First published in Italy in 1957 amidst international controversy, DZ is the story of the life an loves of a poet/physician during the turmoil of the Russian Revolution. Here is a masterful chronicle of its outbreak and chronicles: army revolts, irrational killings, starvation, epidemics, Communist party inquisitions.
Doctor Zhivago continued • Taking his family from Moscow to what he hopes will be shelter in the Ural Mountains, Zhivago finds himself instead embroiled in the battle between the Whites and Reds. Set against this backdrop of cruelty and strife is Zhivago’s love for the tender and beautiful Lara: pursued, found, and lost again, Lara is the very of the pain and chaos of those cataclysmic times.
Chapters 11-13 “Chesapeake Beach” “Annandale” “Virginia Beach” • What did Chris learn about his family on his first trip across the country and how did this knowledge affect him? • What are some quotes that represent characteristics of Chris's parents? • What are the most important events in Chapter 12 of AND what is the significance of each? • Name two qualities that Walt McCandless and his son have in common and support each with a quote from Chapter 11. • Explain the bond between a mother/son and father/son how are they the same? Different?
Chapters 14 & 15: “The Stikine Ice Cap” • In what point of view are these chapters told? • What is Krakauer’s opinion of Chris’ death and how does he come to this conclusion? • How old was Krakauer when he made is his first climb? • John Menlove Edwards said that climbing was a “psychoneurotic tendency.” What does this mean? Do you agree or disagree? Explain. • How did Krakauer prepare for his climb? • What are the some of the mistakes Krakauer made that could have proved fatal? • Compare Krakauer with Chris. Consider their adventures, endeavors, and families.
Chapters 14 & 15: “The Stikine Ice Cap” continued 8. Krakauer says that he suffered from hubris, exaggerated pride, in his younger years. How does Chris suffer from hubris? 9. Why does Krakauer use author intervention in these two chapters? Is it effective? 10. How does the placement of these two chapters contribute to the development of the plot? Should they be in another section of the novel? Should they be omitted? Explain. 11. At the end of chapter 15, Krakauer says that surviving his Alaska adventure was due to chance. Did Chris die because of chance, fate, environment, heredity or other sources? In the author’s note, Krakauer mentions that his opinion about McCandless will be apparent in the novel. What is his opinion? 12. Do you agree or disagree with Krakauer’s convictions of Chris McCandless? Explain.
Quick Write #4: C/C Chris vs. Alex • Compare and contrast Chris as a teen to Chris/Alex as an adult • What are your impressions of him at each stage of his life? • How has he changed? Grown? • Which incidents in the novel helped create this impression? Do you think your impression might/ will change? Explain.
The Naturalists’ Philosophy • The Naturalists were a group of scientists/writers who presented a new way of thinking at the turn of the 20th Century. Beliefs • Everyone is born with the history and knowledge of his/her ancestors. • The knowledge lies dormant until factors bring it out. • The Naturalists focused on the excess of “Human Nature.” • Lust, Greed, Evil, Murder, Crime
The Naturalists’ Philosophy The Naturalists posed as scientists. • Foundation was based on Charles Darwin’s Philosophy. • Everyone is an animal • Man has evolved, but he has retained certain animalistic qualities. • Survival of the Fittest • Man possesses this instinct. • True self is revealed once a person is taken away from society. • Society = Laws and Reason • Society governs our behavior. • What if you take the person away from society and place him in the primitive?
The Naturalists’ Philosophy Heredity + Chance + Environment = Fate Quick Write #5 – H+C+E=F Look at yourself – how has this philosophy affected you?
Chapter 16: “The Alaska Interior” • Discuss the concept of chance/luck (both good and bad) and the role it plays in Chris McCandless’ fate in the Alaskan bush. • Was Chris a victim of bad luck? To what degree did he have control over the events that occurred during his 4 months stay in the Alaskan bush? Cite textual evidence to support your answer.
Chapter 17: “The Stampede Trail” • Roman Dial states, “Sure he screwed up, but I admire what he was trying to do. Living completely off the land like that, month after month, is incredibly difficult. I’ve never done it… Living in the interior bush for an extended period, subsisting on nothing except what you hunt and gather—most people have no idea how hard that actually is. And McCandless almost pulled it off” (185). • Do you respect Chris for what he tried to accomplish? Why or why not? Support your response with textual evidence.
Chapter 18:”The Stampede Trail” • Now that you have completed the reading for Into The Wild, you should have a much better understanding of Chris McCandless’ intentions and whether or not he was prepared for his trip into the Alaskan bush. Do you think he knew what he was doing, or do you think that he was ill-prepared and may have had a death wish? State which position you believe to be true and support your response with evidence. Then provide evidence and give a counter-argument against those who would disagree with your opinion. • Which of the following factors/forces—hubris, ignorance, chance, environment, inexperience, romantic idealism, self-reliance—played the greatest role in Chris McCandless’ death? Rank the following elements in the order that you believe most likely led to Chris’ death. (one being most influential, seven being the least). Then justify your top 3 choices with evidence from the text to explain your rationale of thinking.
from Education of a Wondering Man • “We are finally, all wonderers, in search of knowledge. Most of us hold the dream of becoming something better than we are, something larger, richer in some way more important to the world and ourselves. Too often, the way taken is the wrong way, with too much emphasis on what we want to have, rather than what we wish to become.” Louis L’Amour