Into The Wild: The Story About Transcendentalist Chris Mccandless

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About this sample


Words: 1092 |

Pages: 2|

6 min read

Published: Apr 29, 2022

Words: 1092|Pages: 2|6 min read

Published: Apr 29, 2022

Into the Wild follows the life of a bright, young man named Chris McCandless and his journey into the wilderness. Both mediums focus on his relationships with his family, his friends, and society, and how they contributed to his actions and eventually his unfortunate demise. It was first published as a book by Jon Krakauer and later adapted into a film by Sean Penn. Despite both interpretations being gathered from the same events, their depictions of Chris were different. Sean Penn distorted and fabricated events to persuade his audience to share the same opinion as him, whereas Jon Krakauer attempted to be more transparent and objective in his portrayal of Chris. They also illustrated Chris’s relationships differently which highlighted different aspects of his character.

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There are many instances where Sean Penn created or manipulated events within the movie that didn’t occur. One example is when Chris was hunting, and he saw a moose and her child, but didn’t shoot. Given his situation, it is very unlikely that he would have wasted the opportunity to get meat. This scene was created to develop Chris’s morals to make him a more merciful character. He also excluded how Chris was underprepared for his journey. Many readers of the book criticized Chris for this, and the lack of this information prevented the audience of the movie to come to that opinion. For example, his lack of suitable camping gear and lack of knowledge of the game and environment of Alaska proved to be a hindrance to his success and led to his death. He also didn’t know that the bus he utilized for shelter prior to his arrival. This was not explored in the movie to the extent as it was in the book. Additionally, at the end of the movie, while Chris is dying, it is edited to have the audience perceive Chris is imagining that he’s running towards his parents and hugging them. This could be perceived as a symbol of reconciliation. While this is a sign of Penn using his artistic license, we have no idea if this experience happened or if he forgave his parents. The dramatization of his death can be attributed to Penn wanting to frame Chris as more of an idol, or wanting to celebrate him. Also in the movie, Chris realizes he’s dying because of the plant he ate. However, it isn’t confirmed whether Chris realized this was the reason or if that was the reason at all. The book doesn’t definitively state a cause of death, Krakauer speculates many plausible explanations.

Sean Penn lionized Chris through the romanticization of his story and trying to convey it as the stone-cold truth. In contrast, Krakauer acknowledged that he had a polarized opinion of Chris, but he tried his best to be unbiased and to include as much information as possible. This notion was first mentioned in the Author’s Note, he stated, “I won’t claim to be an impartial biographer. McCandless’s strange tale struck a personal note… I have tried… to minimize my authorial presence.” Later on, he reinforces his intentions by saying, “I will leave it to the reader to form his or her opinion of Chris McCandless.” These claims are proven to be true throughout the book because, despite his convictions, he never omits information that would support his perception of Chris. For example, unlike the movie which began as Chris’s graduation, Krakauer included facts from Chris’s childhood and beyond. This bestowed multifaceted insight of Chris the audience. He also explored all the characteristics that led to the amalgamation that was the enigma of Chris McCandless. Krakauer included many cases where Chris acted abrasively when challenged by authority and society. For example, when questioned about his hunting license by Jim Gallien he goes off about how he doesn’t respect the government’s rules and that how he feeds himself is “none of their business.” In the movie, his disdain towards societal rules is explored, but not with as much vulgarity or seriousness. These events were recounted as more lighthearted and less intense in the movie. Krakauer also told more stories of Chris entertaining bars, being sociable, and forming intense bonds with strangers he meets like Ronald Franz and Jan Burres. This contrasted with accounts from Chris’s old co-workers and managers from McDonald’s of being a loner and isolated. Krakauer evaluated these accounts to figure out the true motivation of Chris’s travels. Meanwhile, Sean Penn doesn’t examine as many aspects of Chris’s personality which leads to his one-sided depiction.

A final aspect that influenced the depictions of Chris how his relationships were conveyed. In the movie, McCandless’s sister was the narrator. This creates a more positive representation of Chris because he and his sister had an extremely close bond. She sympathized with him, seeing as she experienced the same issues with their family as he did. This contributed to the more admirable view of Chris that Sean Penn wanted to curate. Furthermore, this was the only perspective told in the first person throughout the movie. Jon Krakauer, on the other hand, was the narrator and included quotes from multiple people describing how they felt about Chris. The variety in negative and positive accounts of Chris’s personality and actions are a testament to Krakauer’s attempt to be indifferent. For example, employers and friends of Chris like Wayne Westerberg described Chris as a hard worker, handsome, and intelligent. Critics of Jon Krakauer’s article, about Chris, however, viewed him as the complete opposite: arrogant, unprepared, and deserving of his fate. It also explains why Krakauer’s audience had opinions on both sides of the spectrum. Another instance is how Chris’s relationship with Tracy Tatro was emphasized when she was merely mentioned a crush in the book. In the grand scheme of Chris’s story and character, Tracy is not as significant as the movie made her seem, Krakauer didn’t even mention the pair singing together or the incident in Tracy’s trailer.

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Into the Wild as a book and a movie remained consistent in the overall storyline of Chris’s journey, but the differences were integral in how Chris was interpreted. The movie took a more liberal approach in adapting a book that was heavily journalistic and factual which led to dissimilar portrayals. Also, the information excluded and the accentuation of the positives within the film glorifies Chris as an easygoing, free-spirited man. While this is true in some respects, Krakauer goes more in-depth and explores the aggressive, “fed up with society” agenda that Chris had. The film was more of a lionization of Chris, whereas the book was an examination.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Into the Wild: the Story About Transcendentalist Chris Mccandless. (2022, April 29). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 22, 2024, from
“Into the Wild: the Story About Transcendentalist Chris Mccandless.” GradesFixer, 29 Apr. 2022,
Into the Wild: the Story About Transcendentalist Chris Mccandless. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 May 2024].
Into the Wild: the Story About Transcendentalist Chris Mccandless [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Apr 29 [cited 2024 May 22]. Available from:
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