What is the significance of the opening quotation from Jack London?
Chapter 2, page 9
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In the book Into the Wild the young man Chris McCandless was obsessed with the idea of going into the wilderness on his own with none around. The man who wrote the book recognized that Chris was a well read young man who admired the pioneers who had gone before him.
Chris wanted to be like the people that he had read about. He wanted to break away from social mores and conditions and explore the world in a more silent undisturbed world. Jack London wrote about a world that Chris had only dreamt of and Chris wanted to see that world. The book White Fang was the story of a man and his dog in uncharted wilderness and their battles. The misfortune is that Chris was not as prepared as the characters in London's book.
"Dark spruce forst frowned on either side the frozen waterway. The trees had been stripped by a recent wind of their white covering of frost, and they seemed to lean toward each other, black and ominous, in the fading light. A vast silence reigned over the land. The land itself was a desolation, lifeless, without movement, so lone and cold that the spirit of it was not even that of sadness. There was a hint in it of laughter, but of a laughter more terrible than any sadness—a laughter that was mirthless as the smile of the Sphinx, a laughter cold as the frost and partaking of the grimness of infallibility. It was the masterful and incommunicable wisdom of eternity laughing at the futility of life and the effort of life. It was the Wild, the savage, frozen-hearted Northland Wild."
In many ways, Chris McCandless was a romantic. He saw the wilderness not only as a challenge but as an ideal... a way to live purely and on one's own, at one with nature. It was this idealism that made him myopic... blind to the wild in the word wilderness. Wilderness sounds amorphous, generalized. But wild is wild: unpredictable, unknown, uncharted and unkind.... brutally indifferent and unkind, laughing coldly and without emotion at the folly of the individual who is starry-eyed and unprepared.
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