Krakauer’s characterization of Chris McCandless

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Krakauer portrays Chris McCandless in his book into the wild as a reckless adventurer with risk-taking skills. He is portrayed as a very intriguing character who is driven to live a life that is not typical but exceptional. It’s difficult to imagine Christopher McCandless was an actual person who walked the earth’s surface, given his nerve-racking tendencies in the novel. Chris seems to have led many lives, from rich and healthy to a poor lad who wanders into the desert of creation. The author has been extremely meticulous in representing the real-life character with intrinsic risk taking the behavior of a person who is charismatic, dramatic plus heroic. But this seems more of escapism of this character who not only shuns his life’s precious savings and also is road less traveled traveler. The author shows him very authoritative person who rules his mind and heart. He is shown as intelligent, one who excels in everything and one who takes challenges (52). There are incidents which seem have had a great impact on Christopher’s life. His father’s hideous character leaves Christopher baffled.

Into the wild give an in-depth account of McCandless’s life till his death. Being a strong hearted person, McCandless took some of the bold decisions that changed the fate of his life. The author penned the whole events that are quite important from various aspects of the character including his representation as a bold and intelligent being full of life (46). The story ends with the death of McCandless and leaves something within the minds and hearts of the readers like why did he leave everything and went far away from the materialistic things? And was something wrong with his psyche or was he fed up with this world? Such questions land the readers into a foreign place where everything suddenly stops and it is only Christopher McCandless who is left.

McCandless – a heroic figure

The author leaves up to the audience to judge the protagonist. He has shown him kind of mixed character that gets going with life as it comes to him but had planned also what he wanted to achieve at different stages of his life. His whole life has been depicted a roller coaster with lots of troughs. But it seems he had innate flair for such toughs otherwise he wouldn’t have donated his hard-earned savings to charity. This character traverse through different spheres, from being a very bright student to the freaky athlete, a true nature lover, a philanthropist, a writer, a traveler, and in the end a wanderer and conqueror.

McCandless painted as a tough person with a small though strong physique with an apt fervor to live unaccompanied (10). It depicts that what shows up is not always true. One may be physically strong but that does not mean he or she is mentally strong. Krakauer portrays the character of McCandless as a mentally tough person but, his physical attire illustrates something else.

It is interesting to see that the author represents detailed features of McCandless through Westerberg. Westerberg’s account is very informative regarding the personality of McCandles. While he was a youngster he had stimulating gaze in his eyes. His persona looked very much emotive and that was quite clear from his dark eyes. The author says, “Dark and emotive, they suggested a trace of exotic blood in his heritage—Greek, maybe, or Chippewa—and conveyed a vulnerability that made Westerberg want to take the kid under his wing” (11).

Westerberg got the opportunity to know McCandles better. He gave him a job as a hitchhiker and found him one of the best persons he had ever known. McCandless’s character is very much intelligent and the firm-minded person with full of rectitude. He was mindful about his job that depicts his ethical character. He was strong in nature. He would finish his job with apt commitment and dedication.

It is interesting to mention that Krakauer attempted to illustrate a heroic picture of McCandless. It is because of his success in the academic and other fields’ especially athletics. Such qualities would bring some sort of fame, happiness, and even satisfaction. But, he was a man of strong heart. As evident from the story, McCandless gave away everything as charity and began to live as a hitchhiker. Such act depicted his caring nature for other especially the needy people. He worked hard to live his life even when he was a student (27). The author painted his beautiful picture that put forward an example of a heroic deed.

The end of the story takes a reader to a new belief by illustrating the sudden end of the McCandless. Such tragic scene develops a strange episode of McCandless as how he was found dead far away from his place. It is ironic that every great hero leaves behind just his name and memories and that is what has left of Chris McCandless. His tragic end makes him not any less than a hero.


Krakauer, J. (1997). Into the Wild. Anchor; 1 edition (20 January 1997)

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