Total Self-Reliance impossibility in the Novel Into the Wild

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In his book Into the Woods, Jon Krakauer portrays a man who leaves his family home and heads into the forest. Chris McCandless, the story’s lead, prefers solitude after graduating. Clearly, a core premise of this book is that complete self-sufficiency is unlikely in one’s life. The assistance and care of others are critical for one’s success in life. Chris, an anti-realistic character, believes that he will make it through life on his own and therefore does not need the assistance of his kin. However, as the plot concludes, it is revealed to the reader that his decision to flee civilization leads to disaster. He becomes unable to rely on himself and dies in the wilderness. This unique personality which Chris portrays creates a moral compass that is questionable. As such, Chris introduces the reader to the importance of being self-principled and at the same time communicates that appreciating the help of people we have in life is significant in leading a happy life.

The Impossibility of Total Self-Reliance in a Person’s Life

From the novel, the reader is able to see that Chris isolates himself from the society where he grew up and wants to be alone and become self-reliant. However, his quest to have perfect self-reliant life results into his death. Arguably, Chris’ idealistic wish for an independent life makes him not to lead a normal life similar to other people. The book gives many interviews that Chris attended and elucidates numerous people who helped him and particularly in getting a job. However, Chriss is still not able to note how important other people are in one’s life. The book strongly highlights that humans depend on one another to succeed in every aspect of life and one cannot make it on his or her own. The illusory nature of self-reliance that Chris yearns to have leads him to death. He aspires to live in an abandoned bus, and he does not want to make a shelter of his own. Undeniably, it can be noted from the novel that while adherence to self-principles is an admirable character in Chris, it is also significant for one to know that putting ignoring the contribution of others and putting one proicnspe above everyone does not help. It is morally wrong and raises a moral dilemma. Simply put, people in life similar to life principles are equally important.

The major dominant theme in the book also shows the struggle of man against nature due to the choices he makes. It is ironical to note that after Chris graduated from college, he terms his family to be purposeless and vapid and yet they are people who have worked hard to keep him in school. Chris lives in the wilderness portrays a theme of struggle against nature. He rejects the environment in which he was born. He decides to go to Alaska and other isolated places in the United States to work there in attempts to live a happy life. This vividly demonstrates the eager of a man who wants to be with nature and survive what nature would throw at him. Chris wants to derive meaning in his life through becoming a self-reliant person and eliminates the need for society around him. Unfortunately, the struggle he has does not end well as he dies at the whim of Mother Nature. His choice of getting lonely creates internal conflict leading him to develop a disdain for things around him, and he says that “I just don’t want anything.” This statement sums up his arrogant nature and an attitude denoting losing hope in life (Krakauer 131).

He comes from a rich family, but he decides to entirely renounce the materialism lifestyle he grew up with and welcomes loneliness, separation, and simplicity of his own life. Chris leaves his society behind in exchange for refreshing rawness in the wilderness of Alaska. He wants to discover how to live alone, and he thus goes far from his home. The book elucidates that Chris abandons any material possession he has and this includes a $24,000 trust fund. Notably, he struggles to survive in the wilderness. He only has 10 lb bag of rice and his rifle which he lives on them (Krakauer 201). This sustains him until when he died on August 18, 1992.

A reader is able to note that Chris had everything in life that a person would wish to have. He was talented in athletics; he had financial security, and also he was an intelligent man who performed well in academics. Surprisingly, he chooses to leave all the good things he has and decides to live alone in isolation. He abandons his wealthy life, and according to him, the material possession was not everything in life. Chris depicts to be a man who comprehended that having the considerable money together with other materials of richness does not amount to happiness. In the letter that Chris writes to his friend Ron, he explains that “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 of a man than a secure future” (Krakauer 39). Chris knew that the only way in which a man can break free from social conformity is through making personal decisions to line his or her life. Making decisions life involves restricting material distraction and completely isolating oneself from the society. This is evident when Chris sets himself into the primitive existence. However, his tragic end poses a significant moral lesson to the reader. Choosing to live in remoteness and abandoning family and friends is not the right way of life. Chris risks his life by escaping civilization and the conformity of the world and ends up dying in the wilderness.


Into the wild is a story that evokes a fundamental moral lesson that one should appreciate the help of others in life and make it on your own is impossible. Valuing family and friends is an important aspect of life. The society is essential as it helps one to succeed in life. Whereas an individual should be principled and value his or her principles and dreams, the contribution which people surrounding us have to our lives and especially family members cannot be underestimated. When Chris makes a decision to leave behind the family he has and go into isolation, he becomes devastated and fails to manage in achieving his dreams. Tragically, he dies in the wilderness.

Work Cited

Krakauer Jon. Into the Wild. Pan Macmillan, 6 July 2011.

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