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This is a very interesting question to consider, as Krakauer in his riveting account of Chris McCandless's life reports the way in which otehrs dismiss him as an example of arrogance, naivety and youthfulness whilst also indicating the way that there was something special about his character and looking at the impact he had upon so many. One of my favourite quotes regarding the character of McCandless is in Chapter Seventeen, when Krakauer answers some of the critics who are quick to dismiss Chris McCandless as just an arrogant young man:
He had a need to test himself in ways, as he was fond of saying, "that mattered." He possessed grand--some would say grandiose--spiritual ambitions. According to the moral absolutism that characterises McCandless's beliefs, a challenge in which a successful outcome is assured isn't a challenge at all.
This points towards the unyielding nature in which Chris McCandless lived his life. He remained true to his beliefs and absolutism, even when that resulted in his death. There is something heroic about that, and Krakauer is careful to present McCandless as someone whose "life hummed with purpose." In addition, he includes the comments of Roman, who says about Chris McCandless:
Sure, he screwed up... but I admire what he was trying to do. Living completely off the land like that, month after month, is incredibly difficult. I've never done it. And I'd bet you that very few, if any, of the people who call McCandless incompetent have ever done it either, not for more than a week or two. Living in the interior bush for an extended period, subsisting on nothing except what you hunt and gather--most people have no idea how hard that actually is. And McCandless nearly pulled it off.
Therefore there is enough evidence in this excellent book to point towards McCandless being a hero and not being the unwise, arrogant young man that so many seem ready to dismiss him as being.
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