Did Chris's ultimate goal from Into the Wild show that he had an inferiority complex?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

It can't be proved that Chris had a specific inferiority complex, but it can't be denied that he felt the need to constantly prove himself against nature. He seemed to feel that proving himself against society was a meaningless gesture; everyone around him was also working to prove themselves against society, and he saw that as a trap, leading to an endless cycle of work and failure. Instead, he wanted to prove himself against a constant, nature, something that humanity can affect but ultimately never change. By working through his personal issues and personal growth via isolation, Chris wanted to become a stronger person with a more complex outlook, not the office drone that he saw in most of society. A comment by Wayne Westerberg may shed some light on Chris's feelings:

"I got the impression that this Alaska escapade was going to be his last big adventure," Westerberg offers, "and that he wanted to settle down some. He said he wasgoing to write a book about his travels."
(Krakauer, Into the Wild, Amazon.com)

It seems that the journey to Alaska was in itself the destination, the experience of living in isolation and surviving off the land. Chris may have felt inferior to his heroes, like Thoreau and London, who experienced the world in a harsher time compared to his relative comfort. Instead of sitting back and letting himself exist in stagnation, as he saw others as doing, Chris intended to create a base of experiences for himself on which to create his later life. If Chris felt inferior to anything, it was to the high expectations that he placed on himself; most of the people he met thought very highly of Chris, and said so often.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial