Chris McCandless Quotes in Into the WildThe Into the Wild quotes below are all either spoken by Chris McCandless or refer to Chris McCandless. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
In trying to understand McCandless, I inevitably came to reflect on…the grip wilderness has on the American imagination, the allure high-risk activities hold for young men of a certain mind, [and] the complicated, highly charged bond that exists between fathers and sons.
Some readers admired the boy [Chris] immensely for his courage and noble ideals; other fulminated that he was a reckless idiot, a wacko, a narcissist who perished out of arrogance and stupidity—and was undeserving of the considerable media attention he received.
This is the last you shall hear from me Wayne…If this adventure proves fatal and you don’t ever hear from me again I want you to know you’re a great man. I now walk into the wild.
The trip was to be an odyssey in the fullest sense of the word, an epic journey that would change everything. [McCandless] had spent the previous four years, as he saw it, preparing to fulfill an absurd and onerous duty: to graduate from college. At long last he was unencumbered, emancipated from the stifling world of his parents and peers, a world of abstraction and security and material excess, a world in which he felt grievously cut off from the raw throb of existence.
…[McCandless] intended to invent an utterly new life for himself, one in which he would be free to wallow in unfiltered experience. To symbolize the complete severance from his previous life, he even adopted a new name. No longer would he answer to Chris McCandless; he was now Alexander Supertramp, master of his own destiny.
Chris was very much of the school that you should own nothing except what you could carry on your back at a dead run.
Can this be the same Alex that set out in July 1990? Malnutrition and the road have taken their toll on his body. Over 25 pounds lost. But his spirit is soaring.
It is the experiences, the memories, the great triumphant joy of living to the fullest extent in which real meaning is found.
[Chris] was so enthralled by [Jack London’s] tales, however, that he seemed to forget they were works of fiction, constructions of the imagination that had more to do with London’s romantic sensibilities than with the actualities of life in the subarctic wilderness.
‘I’d thought he’d be fine in the end…he was smart. He’d figured out how to paddle a canoe down to Mexico, how to hope freight trains, how to score a bed at inner-city missions. He figured all of that out on his own, and I felt sure he’d figure out Alaska, too.’
McCandless…relieved that he had again evaded the impending threat of human intimacy, of friendship, and all the messy emotional baggage that comes with it. He had fled the claustrophobic confines of his family. He’d successfully kept Jan Burres and Wayne Westerberg at arm’s length, flitting out of their lives before anything was expected of him. And now he’d slipped painlessly out of Ron Franz’s life as well.
Both father and son were stubborn and high-strung. Given Walt’s need to exert control and Chris’s extravagantly independent nature, polarization was inevitable. Chris submitted to Walt’s authority…but the boy raged inwardly all the while. He brooded at length over what he perceived to be his father’s moral shortcomings, the hypocrisy of his parents’ lifestyle, the tyranny of their conditional love. Eventually, Chris rebelled—and when he finally did, it was with characteristic immoderation.
No, I want to hitch north. Flying would be cheating. It would wreck the whole trip.
[Chris] was hungry to learn about things. Unlike most of us, he was the sort of person who insisted on living out his beliefs.
Such willful ignorance [on the part of McCandless]…amounts to disrespect for the land, and paradoxically demonstrates the same sort of arrogance that resulted in the Exxon Valdez Spill—just another case of underprepared, over-confident men bumbling around out there and screwing up because they lacked requisite humility…McCandless’s contrived asceticism and a pseudoliterary stance compound rather than reduce the fault.
McCandless didn’t conform…well to the bush-casualty stereotype. Although he was rash, untutored in the ways of the backcountry, and incautious to the point of foolhardiness, he wasn’t incompetent—he wouldn’t have lasted 113 days if he were. And he wasn’t a nutcase, he wasn’t a sociopath, he wasn’t an outcast. McCandless was something else…. A pilgrim, perhaps.
Chris was fearless…He didn’t think the odds applied to him. We were always trying to pull him back from the edge.
More even than most teens, he tended to see things in black and white. He measured himself and those around him by an impossibly rigorous moral code.
…like McCandless, I was a raw youth who mistook passion for insight and acted according to an obscure, gap-ridden logic. I thought climbing the Devils Thumb would fix all that was wrong with my life. In the end, of course it changed almost nothing. But I came to appreciate that mountains make poor receptacles for dreams. And I lived to tell the tale.
Two years he walks the earth…an aesthetic voyager whose home is the road….After two rambling years comes the final and greatest adventures. The climactic battle to kill the false being within and victoriously conclude the spiritual revolution….Ten days bring…him to the great white north. No longer poisoned by civilization he flees, and walks alone upon the land to become lost in the wild.
EXTREMELY WEAK, FAULT OF POT. SEED. MUCH TROUBLE JUST TO STAND UP. STARVING. GREAT JEOPARDY.
Many people have told me that they admire Chris for what he was trying to do. If he’d lived, I would agree with them. But he didn’t, and there’s no way to bring him back. You can’t fix it. Most things you can fix, but not that. I don’t know that you ever get over this kind of loss. The fact that Chris is gone is a sharp hurt I feel every single day. It’s really hard. Some days are better than others, but it’s going to be hard every day for the rest of my life.
The most prevalent characteristic of McCandless is that he is incredibly determined. Even when meeting amazing people who will later become his friends across his journey, his ultimate goal is to get to Alaska, and he will not stop until he gets there. He even mentions this to Wayne Westerberg, a Carthage, South Dakota resident who Chris would work for four weeks afterward and would become incredibly close to. He tells Westerberg he needs money in order to buy gear for Alaska, and though Chris promised to come back, “he wanted to be in Fairbanks by the end of April in order to squeeze in as much time as possible up North before his return” (62). Chris’s determination is probably the most important part of his trip because if he in any way decided to turn back and falter on his need not to give up, he never would have gotten to his ultimate destination of Fairbanks Bus 142 near the Stampede Trail.
The final personality trait that helped Chris on his journey across the country is his resourcefulness. Resourcefulness is an important skill to have in the middle of the wilderness where resources are not easily obtained, and Chris always tried to make the most of what he kept in his hiking backpack and use what he had to help him survive. This skill is brought to its fullest when you realize he surprisingly brought very little material with him on his expedition to the middle of the Alaskan wilderness, which is notoriously cold and where resources are hard to find. At the beginning of the book, Jim Gallien, the driver who would take Chris to his final destination, mentioned “He wasn’t carrying anywhere near as much food and gear as you’d expect a guy to be carrying for that kind of trip”(4). However, Chris brags to Westerberg’s consistently on-and-off girlfriend, Gail Borah, that “he could live for a month on nothing but twenty-five pounds of rice” (63). This shows how incredibly resourceful Chris actually was, or believed he was, and in order to survive a trip like that into the Alaskan wilderness, you’ve got to be able to survive off of very little and be able to make the best out of all of the materials you have.
Into the Wild author Jon Krakauer mentions in the book how he tried to find his purpose in life by climbing the Devil’s Thumb in Alaska (Krakauer, 133-156). In his book, he documents the trip of 23-year old man Chris McCandless, otherwise known as Alexander (or Alex) Supertramp, across the United States. He eventually settles in an abandoned Alaskan bus for 16 weeks and passes away after eating a large amount of slightly poisonous seeds. This journey into Alaska in order to find a purpose is eerily similar to Krakauer’s journey. Knowing what he wanted to do in order to find his purpose in life, Chris was successful in that mission; the book mentions how his purpose finally feels fulfilled after travelling the entire country, and that at the end of his life, he writes a note saying “I have had a happy life and thank the lord. Goodbye and may god bless all” (199)! In order to find meaning, however, Chris had to have certain characteristics in order to survive travelling cross-country and eventually settling in the barren-cold wilderness of the Frontier State. Chris McCandless was a determined, compassionate, and resourceful man, and without these characteristics, he would not have been able to go as far as he did.
The determined, compassionate, and resourceful nature of Chris McCandless was important in order for him to be able to go on his giant, grand, big-scale adventure. Using all of these traits, this normally ordinary man made a huge impact on everyone he came across on his journey, from Ron Franz, who wanted to adopt him as his grandson, to Wayne Westerberg, who says to his co-workers that the reason he is upset when doing hard work is because “we was counting on Alex being back at work by now.” (62) Through these compassionate and positive interactions with many people across the United States, he turned a story of a normal man who would usually be considered an everyday hitchhiker or tramp into an emotional, heartfelt journey that leaves a huge impact on the reader even after the book ends. Through his charismatic and charming personality, Chris McCandless carries the entire story through, and makes this story of a man who would usually be considered just a normal guy that much better.
Another important characteristic of Chris’s personality that help him on his tramping expedition is his compassion. Whoever he met on his adventure, from Jim Gallien to Jan Burres to Wayne Westerberg, he was always kind and made a good first impression on them; the interviews in Krakauer’s book say it all. In one interview, Gaylord Stuckey, a truck driver who, against the rules, helped Chris get to Fairbanks, said, “ I tell you what: He was a dandy kid. Real courteous, and he didn’t cuss or use a lot of that there slang” (159). This is especially surprising coming from the fact that Gaylord himself said that he usually stayed “leery” of hitchhikers because of his presumptions that someone who “can’t even afford a bus ticket” (159) isn’t exactly connected to the world around him. Without Chris’s compassionate nature, vehicle drivers probably would have tried to stay away from McCandless or regret that they had taken him along, but instead, he is able to make a good impression on the people who help him get to his final destination.
Cite this page as follows:
“How would you describe Chriss personality in Into the Wild?” eNotes Editorial, 12 Nov. 2017, https://www.enotes.com/homework-help/how-would-you-describe-chriss-personality-2527. Accessed 15 Sep. 2022.
Chris is a strong-willed, charismatic character. He is a young person with decided opinions and heartfelt convictions, who has been heavily influenced by anti-establishment, idealistic thinkers such as Thoreau and Tolstoy. Chris is the type of person who acts decisively but without necessarily thinking through the consequences of his actions. Late in the story, for example, he heads out for the Alaskan wilderness having thought through some, but not all, of the dangers.
Chris is a person of strong passions. If he likes you, he pours himself out generously and makes himself very likable. If he doesnt like you, he cuts you off completely and coldly—as he does with his parents, revealing little sensitivity about how much worry or pain he might be causing them. He tends to feel he knows he is right and has no problem lecturing much older people on how they should be living their lives.
Chriss personality is a mix of heady, enthusiastic optimism and a full embrace of “sucking the marrow” out of life. As he is dying, he journals with mature wisdom, generosity, and acceptance. He also displays youthful impulsiveness, a risk-taking mentality, and withering judgments of those, like his father, who are materialistic and do not think as he does.
Chris was a typical young man who had lived a typical life. He grew up in relative comfort, perhaps even a bit sheltered, from the harsh realities of the world.
Like many college students, he wanted to journey and experience life at its most basic level. I would not describe him as foolhardy as much as I would say that he was inexperienced and ignorant to the harsh realities of the power of mother nature. Many young adults just dont recognize or fully appreciate that, yes, they can in fact die, even at the age of 22 or 23. That lesson comes with age and life experience.
Yeah…I suppose he seemed well adjusted, althletic and bright but I would describe his personality as shortsighted and foolhardy.
David Henry Thoreaus Waldon Pond was just miles outside of Boston. In fact, from some places near the pond, you can see the city. This was NOT the case for Chris. He was hundreds of miles from a big city in the middle of possibly the most wild national park in all of the US.
According to the reminiscences of his family and university friends, McCandless was a seemingly well-adjusted twenty-two-year-old at the time of his disappearance. He was athletic, bright, and a natural-born entrepreneur, excelling at so many things that he tended to be overconfident. A double major with above average grades, he led a life of comparable comfort and good fortune. He worked on the student newspaper at Emory University and, like many other people his age, thought about injustice in the world around him
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