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What is the purpose of the beginning quotes of each chapter of Into the Wild?

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daniellethwaites | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 1, 2012 at 10:59 AM via web

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What is the purpose of the beginning quotes of each chapter of Into the Wild?

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 29, 2012 at 7:05 PM (Answer #1)

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The quotes that precede each chapter are examples of epigraphs: quotations, sayings, or other information that relates to the themes in each chapter. These are common in both fiction and non-fiction, and here, they serve to show insight into the mind of Chris McCandless. Most of the quotes are either from his personal diaries and writings, or from authors who inspired him. For example, Chapter Two contains the following epigraph:

Jack London is King
Alexander Supertramp
May 1992

graffito carved into a piece of wood discovered
at the site of chris mccandless's death
(Krakauer, Into the Wild, Amazon.com)

This quote reference Jack London, the author who wrote many Man-Versus-Nature stories about Alaska and the Yukon. London was one of Chris's inspirations, and this quote is followed by one from London's novel White Fang. These quotes relate to the chapter's themes: the hostility of the Alaskan and the discovery of Chris's body by hunters. Other chapters have quotes from authors such as Thoreau and Twain, as well as copies of letters that explain some of Chris's inner thoughts.

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claire0130 | Student | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted April 19, 2012 at 2:26 AM (Answer #2)

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To put you in the mindset of McCandless and share with you what influenced him and his ideas.  

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