Describe Chris's relationship with his father and whether you think it had something to do with his behavior in Into the Wild.  This is the topic of an essay I have to write for my English Class.

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chris had a troubled and very angry relationship with his father. This relationship--or Chris's rejection of it-- was centrally important to motivating Chris's behavior in the few years he had between graduating from college and dying in Alaska. 

Chris forcefully rejected his father's materialism, telling his sister that he didn't want to be "bought." In response to what he believed were his father's attempts to smooth over difficulties with money, Chris rejected money. He gave an inheritance he received to Oxfam, then later abandoned his car and burned his cash. He deliberately lived on the margins of society, working at different times at a ranch or at a MacDonald's. When he hit the road after college, he was so determined to be out from under his father's control that he didn't let anyone in his family know his whereabouts. This, as we know, had fatal consequences: when Chris got into serious trouble, nobody knew where or how to find him.

Chris also despised his father for having a second family that Chris knew nothing about growing up, leading him to believe his whole childhood had been a sham. Chris's determination to be different from his father drove him to read authors who advocated a simple life, such as Tolstoy and Thoreau, to live alone for long periods and to pursue his counter-cultural path. 


ellenbryan86 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chris McCandless's relationship with his father, Walt, was the strained relationship of two people who are innately alike yet reject one another's principles. That said, part of Chris's desire to reject his stereotypical life and go out on his own seems to be uniquely him: his sister, Carine, stated: "Even when we were little...he was very to himself."

From a young age, Chris witnessed the grueling work his father and mother put into their consulting firm, and Krakauer notes, "it was a stressful experience," first due to the difficulties of earning enough to support Walt's children from both his first and second marriages and, second, due to Chris's parents' extraordinarily stubborn personalities. His parents were able to stay afloat and then make enough money to afford modest luxuries, which embarrassed Chris. 

In my opinion, Chris greatly resented the grueling work and arguments that eventually afforded his family these luxuries, and thus he was someone driven by his parents, particularly his father, to take to the wilderness. However, I also think that Chris's "overdeveloped social conscience" was a trait with him since birth, and also a contributing factor that led him to take his eventual trip to Alaska.

nutmegger eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chris McCandless' relationship with his father was strained at best.  Chris was an opinionated, determined, and stubborn young man with high ideals and little room for compromise.  His father is a hardworking man with high standards who shared his son's inabilty to compromise.  Chris was always critical of his parents and their lifestyle, but that criticsm turned to outright anger when Chris learned that his father had lived a double life with another family for a time.  Chris saw his father as a liar and a hypocrit and he was never able to forgive his father.  A recurrent theme in Chris' journal was a search for "truth", and he linked that search to the lack of truth he perceived in his family life.  After graduating from college Chris felt the need to flee from his family and their expectations in order to seek the truth that he felt he had never experienced.

sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Considering the above post, making "truth" the focus of your essay would be a good way to go.  Use the essay to develop the many ways that Chris did not have "truth" at home -  the double life, the materialism, the "phony" socialite life - and then compare those things to the "truths" he is looking for in the world and in wilderness.