From Into the Wild, what is the character arc of Chris McCandless?
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The early portions of Chris's life are scattered and unformed; he travels from place to place, always intending to live in isolation but somehow always ending up living in towns and with people. His final goal -- to live for a year in the Alaskan wilderness -- seems far away to most of the people he met. However, this can be attributed to his youth; as Chris grew older, he developed a better feeling for what he desired in life, and what he intended to prove with his travels. In one of his journal entries, just before he tried to hike out of the wilderness, Chris wrote:
I have lived through much, and now I think I have found what is needed for happiness. A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one's neighbor -- such is my idea of happiness.
(Krakaur, Into the Wild, amazon.com)
In other words, his character arc took him through not fully knowing what he wanted, to having an unnamed epiphany that allowed him better understanding of his desired placed in the world. Chris rebelled against society without fully knowing what that meant; he wanted something different but couldn't put it into words. After his isolation in Alaska, Chris understood that while he didn't want to participate in what he saw as the corrupt materialism of society, neither did he want to be entirely alone for the rest of his life. This is a classic example of the "coming-of-age" story, except Chris's trials and obstacles were entirely self-created.
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