Explain the bond between the mother, son, and father as the same or different from each other in Into the Wild.

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omconnelly | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

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In the text Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, he details the journey that lead to Chris McCandless' demise in the Alaskan wilderness. McCandless' parents play an essential role to understanding why McCandless chose to abandon a promising future in order to pursue a cross country journey that culminated in an Alaskan adventure. Throughout his journey, McCandless did not contact his parents and went to great lengths to avoid being recognized as the son of upper class parents.

The problems McCandless had with his parents stemmed from a series of truths that he discovered about his father's life. Ultimately, McCandless discovered that his father lead a double life: he had a mistress with whom he conceived other children and had another family. McCandless's mother was aware of the affair, and ultimately she came to terms with the indiscretion and stayed with her husband. For McCandless, this dishonesty lead him to believe that his parents were the epitome of hypocrites and was the impetus that led to his rebellion against all things his parents valued or encouraged (capitalism, a career in law, settling down, owning a home, etc). Without warning, McCandless completely cut ties and communication with his family and left for the West Coast of the United States shortly after graduation. His family never spoke to him again.

Although McCandless severed ties with his family, his parents' beliefs and thoughts about his demise are included in the text. They believe that the chasm that developed between their son and them was not a result of dishonesty but possibly due to mental illness or McCandless' selfishness. Even after his death, his parents accept little or no responsibility for his journey; this is disputed by his sister. Carine McCandless wrote a tell-all book titled The Wild Truth that supports Krakauer's presumptions that McCandless' parents were a catalyst for his journey. Below is a direct quote from Carine's website that explains the premise of her companion text The Wild Truth.

"We had grown up in the same troubled household, sharing the secret reality that was our dysfunctional and violent family dynamic. I knew why Chris had embraced the harsh wilderness of Alaska, and why he had done it alone. I’d learned from my own private journey into a life without my brother and best friend, that the greatest inspiration comes only from that which Chris valued above all else – what he referred to often in the margins of his beloved books and in the letters he wrote to me before embarking on his great adventures: TRUTH.

In The Wild Truth, I tell my own story while filling in the blanks of his. During the past two decades, I often felt that I was living for the two of us as I found my own path: as a daughter, as a sister and the youngest of eight siblings, as I made mistakes in personal relationships and created success as an entrepreneur, and most importantly in the priorities I realized as a mother. The lessons I have learned are now on the pages of a new book, and I am confident it will help those who read them as much as it has helped me to write them down."

~ Carine McCandless July, 2014

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