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There is a real tragedy in the fact that Chris McCandless and his parents were unable to connect in a way which may have saved them all from heartbreak. His father Walt is able to articulate why they became so distant, telling us in chapter 3-
We misread him
The resentment Chris held for his parents unconventional union was deep seated, and never articulated to them. It is sad that he could share his feelings with his sister Carine, but not with his parents. The letter he sends to her, detailing his plan to cut himself off from his family, reveals a visceral bitterness –
I’m going to completely knock them out of my life. I’m going to divorce them as my parents once and for all and never speak to either of those idiots again as long as I live. I’ll be through with them once and for all, forever.
Walt and Billie cared deeply for their son. Walt tried to talk to Chris after he nearly died having been lost in the Mojave Desert. He was aware of his son’s inability to accept authority, but wanted to protect him anyway-
I’d learnt by then that a direct approach – ‘By God, you’d better not try a stunt like that again!’- didn’t work with Chris. Instead, I tried to explain that we didn’t object to his travels; we just wanted him to be a little more careful and to keep us better informed of his whereabouts.
His words had little impact other than to irritate Chris.
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