Christopher McCandless AND Everett Ruess: Following Their Dream Into The Wild Essay Examples
Joseph Campbell, a famous writer, mythologist and lecturer has once stated in his novel that “every decision made by a young person is a life decisive. What seems to be a small problem is really a large one. So everything that is done early in life is functionally related to a life trajectory” (204). This quote is taken from the novel “A Hero’s Journey” and it summarizes the central idea of the documentary written by Jon Krakauer – Into the Wild.
Into the Wild is a story of an outstanding person, a young man who saw society in a different manner, tried to resist the usual course of nature and considered the sense of his life in fighting for truth. But what is the most exciting about his destiny is that even though he lost all he had, he gained incredibly a lot at the same time.
After having graduated from the Emory University in 1990, Christopher McCandless, the protagonist of this story, donated his twenty-four thousand dollars to charity, freed himself from family ties, left behind all his properties and began an adventure across the whole country searching for the true meaning of life. He changed his real name into pseudonym “Alexander Supertramp” and continued travelling without any money or contacts with an outside world. He arrived at his destination, the town Fairbanks in Alaska, on 28 April 1992.
Four months later his brittle lifeless body has been found inside the abandoned Fairbanks bus on the Stampede Trail. His weight was under 30 kilograms and he died of moldy seeds poisoning followed by the hunger.
Alexander Supertramp’s example inspired thousands of young wanderlusters around the world. He became a modern idol for those craving for adventurous, free of authority and full of meaning solitude life. But even though a lot of people consider Christopher a positive figure, there are still a great amount of those who feel certain disrespect and bias about his choice to exclude himself from the society and civilization which he highly disdained. One of the critics who attempted to analyze Into the Wild in a different light clearly showed his contempt on Christopher’s acts: “Abandon your family for no reason. Ditch your car in the desert. Burn and bury your money for reasons unclear. Stop bathing because it’s too much trouble. There are people just like McCandless living on the streets of Anchorage today” (Medred). In the eighth chapter of the book Jon Krakauer presents several more negative comments. Most of them suggested that “entering the wilderness purposefully ill-prepared, and surviving a near-death experience does not make you a better human, it makes you damn lucky” (Krakauer 72).
Even though a lot of the reviews left much to be desired Jon Krakauer makes an effort to prove that Christopher’s worldview is not so extraordinary is people think it is. He includes the story of another young wanderer, Everett Ruess, both to emphasize that Supertramp wasn’t alone and to build a parallel between their journeys as a basis of human desire to separate oneself from society and unnecessary material possessions.
Everett Ruess was born in 1914 in Oakland, California, but nobody knows when he died because he spent most of his life in remote solitude. Ruess was an artist, poet, photographer and hitchhiker who explored the nature during long periods of time. He spent his days mostly in High Sierra, on the seaside of California, and at the deserts of the South-West of America. It is believed that Ruess had disappeared in 1934, when he was only 20 years old, travelling across Utah.
Ruess became one of the first men, who managed to live among Native Americans. During his journeys he explored the dwellings inside the caves and exchanged his works of art for food and other necessities. He had never spent more than a couple of days among people as he preferred to stay alone most of his time. Jon Krakauer includes in his book one of his quotes which perfectly describes what kind of person he was: “As to when I shall visit civilization, it will not be soon, I think. I have not tired of wilderness; rather I enjoy its beauty and the vagrant life I lead, more keenly all the time” (Krakauer 86).
The first parallel that Krakauer draws our attention to is that both of young men changed their names. Christopher “was now Alexander Supertramp” (23) and Everett did the same: “upon embarking on his terminal odyssey, Ruess adopted a new name” (93). What is more – either Chris and Everett carved their new names at their location. Chris made an inscription of “Alexander Supertramp/May 1992 on the wall of the Sushana bus” (Krakauer 89). And Everett Ruess carved “his nom de plume in to the canyon wall” (89).
Analyzing their motives it becomes clear that both of them followed their dreams regardless of any obstacles. Jon Krakauer proves this suggestion in his book: “Everett was strange. Kind of different. But him and McCandless, at least they tried to follow their dream. That’s what great about them. They tried. Not many do” (96). Besides either Chris or Everett wanted to on journey that would separate them from the society. Christopher, trying to free from any addictions of society “arranged all his paper currency in a pile on the sand – a pathetic little stack of ones and fives and twenties – and put a match to it. One hundred twenty-three dollars in legal tender was promptly reduced to ash and smoke” (Krakauer 29). And Ruess, as an author tells, “withdrew from an organized society and had disdain for worldly pleasures” (Krakauer 95).
And the last but not the least parallel is connected with the mysteries of their deaths. It is widely held that Ruess fell to his death climbing the canyon walls, but no human remains were found. Someone asserts that he continued to live in secret; someone believes that when he tried to cross the river he drowned. Similar discussions are held concerning the death of McCandless. Krakauer states that he was poisoned by moldy seeds, but “after analyses by Dr.Clausen, a biochemist at the University of Alaska, he found that there were no absolutely no toxic compounds or history of being poisoned by the plant in question” (Lamothe).
In contrast I would like to mention that family relationships of these two young men differed a lot. Christopher considered his parents material hypocrites and he clearly proves this in one of his letters to his sister Carine: “they think they’ve bought my respect” (Krakauer 21). Besides he has never written any letters to his mother and father. As for Everett Ruess, he had relatively good relationships with his family. Before his final departure he returned to their house several times and never complained about anything concerning them.
Campbell, Joseph. The Hero's Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work. Google Books. Web. 24 April 2015
Krakauer, Jon. Into The Wild. New York: Anchor Books Doubleday, 1996.
Lamothe, Ron. “Call into the Wild: Into the wild Debunked.” Terra Incognita Films (2007). Web. 24 April 2015
Medred, Craig. “Into the bus: The Chris Mccandless example, 20 years later.” Alaska Dispatch. (2012). Web. 24 April 2015