In the end of "Into the Wild", what does Christopher learn? The whole movie he is carving a message into a piece of wood. What is it?

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nutmegger eNotes educator| Certified Educator

According to the author, Jon Krakauer, the last thing that Chris wrote was "I HAVE HAD A HAPPY LIFE AND THANK THE LORD.  GOODBYE AND MAY GOD BLESS ALL!" (Krakauer, pg199) What Chris learned is a difficult question given the cryptic nature of his writing and the fate that he suffered.  According to the evidence, Chris made an attempt to leave the wilderness but was thwarted by a swollen river, which may indicate his desire to return to civilization.  The author tells us that Chris highlighted the following paragraph from the book Dr Zhivago, perhaps illustrating what he learned: "And so it turned out that only a life similar to the life of those around us, merging with it without a ripple, is genuine life, and that an unshared happiness in not happiness...And this was most vexing of all." Chris added the note "HAPPINESS ONLY REAL WHEN SHARED." (Krakauer pg 189) He had spent much of his young life seeking solitary struggle against nature and "truth" and he may have discovered that he needed to share his knowledge with others in order to find real happiness.

quantatanu | Student

suppose you have entered th deepest forest and discovered a lake surrounded by heavenly gardens and you are extremely excited in happiness but you have n one along with you to share this site ! How will you feel ? In a moment you will be sad again as you have no one to share, this is it.

shashankpunk | Student

" I've been hiking for a long ass time in the wilderness. I have no rice left, no strength, just sitting in my bus, spending my time in my camp, thinking about all the people that I've met in my life. I know my end is coming, I've tried everything to stay alive, but I simply just can't handle it anymore. I've tried hunting, I've tried eating plants, and nothing is working… ….I think I have done exactly that and I am happy about life.... I HAVE HAD A HAPPY LIFE AND THANK THE LORD. GOODBYE AND MAY GOD BLESS ALL!”

samkenny23 | Student

He realises that he has lived his life with nature, but also realises that life is not life is lived alone; he read's quotes from Tolstoy's "family hapiness" and other books that say happiness comes from nature and helping your fellow man. what he learns at the end is that he lived alone.

abracho | Student

He learns a lot of things. But the most important is that Happiness only exists when shared.
He spends 2 years looking for it, looking fon an answer, looking for himself and all the time the answer is just right there he is who he is. does not matter the place or the people he is with. he still is the same guy alone or in the company of others. the last words he wrote are those:
"happiness only exists when shared"
my english suks but i´m sure you'll get it

cinematog | Student

In 1986, when I was 25 years old, I myself felt the same torments as Chris did, and organized an expedition to cross the Arctic on foot.  It was a little known expedition frought with peril and danger.  We were all unprepared and ill-suited for the trip, but somehow we survived.  We were like five Chris McCandlesses, all troubled by our own lives and by the weight of the world around us.  The 100-day expedition was a life-changing experience that affects me even now.  But my journey is not over.  I am still troubled by the world, and I know now, that walking across the Arctic did not solve these problems, but it did help strip away my identity, allowing me to see the world in an altogether different way.  I wish everyone could do this.   And I am damn proud that Chris McCandless did it in his own way.  I am just so sorry that by a very small twist of fate, it ended tragically for him.  God bless him for his courage.

It's a complex question.  Chris was, in the end at peace with himself (as exemplified by his picture in front of the bus).  It's like he was a visionary, finally kicking himself out of the track of conformity, and trying to re-connect with himself through nature.  In the end, he had learned so much, had changed so much that perhaps he could never have gone back to his old ways.  His end, in effect was perhaps the only solution. 

bguill | Student

I would say Christopher is learning that his want for closeness with nature puts him as close to nature as you can get: death and God.

He finds God and himself by suffering intentionally. He takes himself out of society because they are not willing to suffer and learn.

Thinking about this makes me want to tie Heart of Darkness with Into the Wild. 

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Into the Wild

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