In Into the Wild, how did Chris McCandless feel about his family of origin?

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lschertz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

McCandless was close to his sister, Carine. However, Krakauer sums up his relationship in one simple paragraph:

Children tend to be harsh judges when it comes to their parents...and this was especially true in Chris's case. More even than most teens, he tended to see things in black and white. He measured himself and those around him by an impossibly rigorous moral code." (p. 122)

Chris held a deep contempt for his father as he learned he particulars of Walt's divorce from his first wife, which involved an affair between them while dating Chris's mother.

There was more to his judgement of his parents, however. The more he learned about the rich, and those who were not, the more disgust he developed for money and people who possessed a lot of it.  He felt he could not respect his parents and their wealth.

In a letter to his sister, Carine, he wrote:

I'm going to have to be real careful not to accept any gifts from them in the future because they will think they have bought my respect." (p. 21)

He assumed, whether rightly or wrongly, that his parents used materialistic means to earn their children's respect, and he refused to respect that.  Therefore, he felt he could not love his parents unless they changed who they were.  Once again, this goes back to Krakauer's comment about Chris's world being black and white.  His parents were rich, and rich people were disgusting and undeserving of respect, so he could not respect his parents.

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Into the Wild

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