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Exercises & Activities
Into the Wild Study Guide
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DIRECTIONS: Answer each of the following questions on lined paper. Your answers should be in complete sentences and fully developed.
Chapter 1: The Alaska Interior
- Why did Jim Gallien think that Alex’s gear was inadequate for the trip? What else would Alex need?
- What did Gallien say to Alex to dissuade him from going into the wilderness north of Mount McKinley?
- What did Gallien give Alex?
- How does the author hint at the outcome of Alex’s journey?
Chapter 2: The Stampede Trail
- Describe the discovery of Chris McCandless’ dead body.
- Who found him?
- How long had he been dead?
- How were his remains taken away?
- What caused his death?
- Write a journal entry in response to the following quotation by Jack London at the beginning of chapter 2: “The land itself was a desolation, lifeless, without movement, so lone and cold that the spirit of it was not even that of sadness. There was a hint in it of laughter, but of a laughter more terrible than any sadness—a laughter that was mirthless as the smile of the Sphinx, a laughter cold as the frost and partaking of the grimness of infallibility. It was the masterful and incommunicable wisdom of eternity laughing at the futility of life and the effort of life. It was the Wild, the savage, frozen-hearted Northland Wild” (9).
Chapter 3: Carthage
- How did Westerberg describe Alex as a worker and as a person?
- What did Chris do with the twenty-four thousand dollars after graduating from college?
- How did Chris feel about leaving behind his old life and creating a new one?
- In your opinion, was Chris’s plan to travel to Alaska and “wallow in unfiltered experience” brave or stupid?
- Explain. (See the quotations by Leo Tolstoy and Wallace Stegner at the beginning of the chapter on page 15.)
Chapter 4: Detrital Wash
- Why did Chris decide to abandon the car and continue his journey on foot?
- How did Chris’s parents get to learn of his whereabouts?
- What fateful incident forced Chris to leave a fishing village on the Gulf of California and travel north back to the United States?
Chapter 5: Bullhead City
- What is your reaction to Chris’s housing arrangements while he lived in Bullhead, Arizona?
- What do you like about Chris? What do you find strange about him?
Chapter 6: Anza-Borrego
- How did Chris respond to Ron Franz’s request to adopt him as his grandson? What do you think of Chris’s reaction?
- Give three examples that illustrate Chris’s relationship with Ron Franz.
- Briefly summarize a few important points from Chris’s letter to Ron Franz.
- What did Franz do after hearing about Chris’s death?
Chapter 7: Carthage
- Describe Chris’s relationship with his family.
Chapater 8: Alaska
- Do you agree with Nick Jans’ criticism of Chris McCandless adventure? Re-read the letter on page 72 (“His ignorance. . . is what killed him.”)
- Name a few alpinists who were defeated by Alaska’s harsh wilderness. What were the similarities among them? How was Chris McCandless different?
About this Document
Detailed chapter by chapter study guide questions.