Compare Chris McCandless to Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One Emersonian element that Chris possesses is his reverence for freedom.  This is seen in his foray "into the wild."  At the same time, part of Chris's rejection of his parents comes from the belief that they are too controlling and repressive of the spirit of freedom that exists within him.  This reverence for freedom is a quality that Emerson displays in his work, especially concerning individuals and their relationship to external structures.  Freedom is a part of the Emersonian ethos, something that the individual cannot sacrifice under any circumstances.

Chris's attitude towards a transcendental notion of truth is something that drives him throughout the narrative.  He is more serious than his fellow college students.  He understands that there might be something more than what is presented in front of him.  This is a quality that Emerson himself would have embraced in so far as stressing that what is in front of us might not be the immediate defining element to being in the world.  An "insatiable quest for something more" is a way to describe both Emerson and Chris, especially with regards to their own belief systems in light of what others see as "truth."  Chris is driven to do what he does because he is in search for something more meaningful.  Emerson would praise this quality.  It is this quality that defines individualism, non- conformity, and a passion to explore what can be in the face of what is.


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