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What are two major settings from the book Into the Wild?

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jb9368003 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 19, 2012 at 8:54 PM via web

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What are two major settings from the book Into the Wild?

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

Posted January 29, 2013 at 8:47 PM (Answer #1)

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While every setting described was of major importance in the life of Chris McCandless, the two most important are the Magic Bus in Alaska, and the Carthage Grain Elevator of Wayne Westerberg.

Obviously, the abandoned bus where Chris lived and ultimately died is important; Krakauer describes both the bus and the surrounding landscape with great detail, explaining how Chris lived by hunting and foraging. The bus itself takes on a character of its own, reflecting Chris's own growth in the changes he made to its interior. Krakauer writes:

Looking up, I notice that the sheet-metal walls of the vehicle are covered with graffiti left by numerous visitors... The longest, most eloquent graffito is one of several inscribed by McCandless...: TWO YEARS HE WALKS THE EARTH. NO PHONE, NO POOL, NO PETS, NO CIGARETTES. ULTIMATE FREEDOM. AN EXTREMIST. AN AESTHETIC VOYAGER WHOSE HOME IS THE ROAD....
(Krakaur, Into the Wild, amazon.com)

This bus has become a sort of pilgrimage spot for travelers who are  touched by Chris's story, and remains virtually undisturbed (although someone did steal a pair of Chris's personal boots left on the bus).

The other major setting is the grain elevator of Wayne Westerberg. More than anyone else in the book, save perhaps Ron Franz, Wayne developed a rapport with Chris, and felt a distinct kinship with him (Wayne was also the person to positively identify Chris's body). Wayne was one of the last people to offer Chris shelter and work, and so his life in Carthage is described with joy and warmth, a place of safe harbor where Chris was unafraid to express himself. The physical labor of the grain elevator was ideally suited to Chris, who like to work for real, demonstrable gains; Krakauer describes the hard labor and how Chris found his friendships with other workers enhanced by this shared experience; Chris would have probably returned there, had he lived.


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