Three themes evident in the novel would be family relationships, human endurance and the fatal attraction of the natural environment.
Chris McCandless nurtured a deep-seated resentment for his family as both sides seemed to be unable to understand each other. Walt and Billie clearly loved their son and wished to indulge him, yet he was bewildered by their lack of understanding of what really made him happy. Just before he disappeared, he wrote to his sister explaining how he was planning to break free of them-
I am going to completely knock them out of my life. I’m going to divorce them as my parents once and for all and never speak to those idiots again as long as I live.
The ideals of parent and child were so wildly disparate that their relationship was beyond repair.
The text makes it clear that Chris was one of many young men, including Krakauer himself, who are irresistibly drawn to pit their wits against the natural environment. As Chris wrote in his journal and was recorded by Krakauer in chapter 4, McCandless revelled in the challenge and allure of the wild-
It is the experiences, the memories, the great triumphant joy of living to the fullest extent in which real meaning is found.
Krakauer explains that McCandless was in no way unique in his drive to experience the challenges of the rawest examples of nature. Krakauer details the adventures of several men who were driven in the way McCandless was-
There are similarities among Rossellini, Warerman, McCunn and McCandless…Some insight into the tragedy of Chris McCandless can be gained by studying predecessors cut from the same exotic cloth.