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Can you explain to me (in detail) why the movie "Into the Wild" is an example of...

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katiexoxo | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 13, 2009 at 10:04 AM via web

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Can you explain to me (in detail) why the movie "Into the Wild" is an example of transcendentalism?

I would also like to know why the song "I dont want to be" by Gavin Degraw is an example of transcendentalism.  I'm doing an English project on Transcendentalism, in case you were wondering. And I need detailed explainations of both of these questions please!

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parama9000 | TA , Grade 11 | Valedictorian

Posted February 28, 2014 at 2:39 PM (Answer #2)

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The movie shows how McCandless acts on his's beliefs, irregardless of what society's norms are in that:

McCandless performs illegal acts, such as canoeing in the river.

He rejects his parents.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 13, 2009 at 10:14 AM (Answer #1)

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Transcendentalism was a philosophy, most notably associated with Ralph Waldo Emerson, that emerged in the US around the 1830s.  The major tenet of transcendentalism is that each person should act according to his/her own beliefs, regardless of what society would think of those actions and beliefs.

"Into the Wild" illustrates this basic idea in many ways.  Some examples:

McCandless essentially gives away all his money and burns his ID.

He rejects his parents and refuses to let them know where he is.

He canoes the Colorado River illegally.

He keeps moving on toward Alaska because he thinks that is where he can really find himself.

By the end of the movie, finally discovers what the truth is for him and he continues to write about that discovery to his death.

All of these things show a man trying to do what he thinks is right and to discover his own truths, even when what he is doing is illegal or runs counter to the values of the overall culture.

Finally... I think if you look at the song lyrics you'll see how they fit with the ideas of transcendentalism.  If not, ask about it in a separate question -- more or less one topic per question, please.

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