Chris was shaped by his experiences growing up. He was disillusioned and disgusted by material success because of his father's behavior. Although his parents had achieved a significant degree of financial success, it was spoiled by what Chris perceived as his father's bad temper. Chris also resented the way he felt his father used his money to control him and to try to impress him.
A highly disillusioning blow came when Chris found out that his father had another family in California and, in fact, had not been married to his mother when Chris was born. This destroyed any remnant of an idyllic picture of his family Chris might have formed.
Additionally, as a person who grew up in affluence, having every material need filled, Chris was able to take money as a given. As a young man, he felt it was more important to him to test himself by foregoing money than to pursue ever more of it.
Having grown up with a revulsion towards materialism as a corrupting force, Chris turned to other sources of inspiration in considering how to live a good life. These included writers such as Thoreau, Tolstoy, and Jack London. These authors and thinkers shaped Chris's outlook by showing him new ways to live outside the narrow value structure in which he had been raised. In particular, Thoreau's independence of spirit can be seen as a key influence in Chris's travels after college. Finally, Chris decided to hit the road in an attempt to shed materialism and seek a better way to live.