These questions are from Chapter 16 of Into the Wild: Why was McCandless compared to Sir John Franklin? How does Krakauer see that comparison?

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cldbentley | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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In Chapter 17 of Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer addresses what some people perceive to be similarities between Christopher (Chris) McCandless and Sir John Franklin.  According to what Krakauer writes,

By design McCandless came into the country with insufficient provisions, and he lacked certain pieces of equipment deemed essential by many Alaskans: a large-caliber rifle, map and compass, an ax.  This has been regarded as evidence not just of stupidity but of the even greater sin of arrogance.  Some critics have even drawn parallels between McCandless and the Artic's most infamous tragic figure, Sir John Franklin, a nineteenth-century British naval officer whose smugness and hauteur contributed to some 140 deaths, including his own.

Franklin chose to enter the Artic wilderness without taking all of the precautions available, such as packing extra reserves of food and learning native approaches to survival.  He is believed to have considered himself superior to common means of survival, which many people consider to have also been Chris's opinion of himself. 

When McCandless turned up dea, he was likened to Franklin not simply because both men starved but also because both were perceived to have lacked a requisite humility; both were thought to have possessed insufficient respect for the land.

Krakauer does not openly state the he disagrees with any comparisons between McCandless and Franklin, but he does maintain that McCandless did not posess the same type of arrogance that plagued Franklin.  Krakauer also asserts that native approaches are not always successful and that McCandless did posess sufficient skills to survive for an extended period in the wild.


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