From Into the Wild, how does the McCandless family's view of Chris differ from that of others who met him?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are generally two major views of Chris McCandless: one holds that he was a progressive thinker who wanted to relive the adventures of naturalists and transcendentalists in a modern age, improving his mind and becoming a classic American Individualist; the other holds that he was a pampered rich kid who never took the time to prepare for the hardships of the wilderness, and his death was the result of simple stupidity.

Chris's family shares aspects of both these views. They loved Chris dearly and were devastated at the news of his death, but also showed concern that he seemingly had taken no precautions. His relationship with his family, before he disappeared on his nomadic journey, was rocky, and he seemed to only connect with his sister Carine. He often clashed with his father over trivial things, and his parents were often bewildered with his ideals and conclusions. Perhaps the best summation comes from Chris's mother, Billie:

"I just don't understand why he had to take those kind of chances," Billie proteststhrough her tears. "I just don't understand it at all."
(Krakauer, Into the Wild,

They loved Chris and wanted him to succeed, but never understood the ideals that he had voluntarily accepted on himself. Even Chris's sister Carine doesn't fully understand, although Chris believed that she was more in tune with his thinking than were their parents. Either way, their continuing view of Chris remains as love and loss, inextricably intertwined in the memory of a beloved family member.

vbchic | Student

chris' family see him as nice and smart, but sometimes really hard to get along with.  they think he is super smart and want to do the world for him. 

other people he meet say hes nice and smart, but can lack common sense.  they all think he is a pretty head smart guy, but he is making a dumb choice by going through with this alaskan adventure.

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Into the Wild

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