Into the Wild Questions and Answers
by Jon Krakauer

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How does Chris McCandless demonstrate temperance in Into the Wild? Temperance balances the economy, it demonstrates a friendly harmony and self control. What are some examples of Chris's actions using temperance?

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Merriam Webster's online dictionary offers this definition of temperance:

1 : moderation in action, thought, or feeling : restraint
2 a : habitual moderation in the indulgence of the appetites or passions b : moderation in or abstinence from the use of alcoholic beverages

If you consider the meaning given in 2b, it is clear that Chris McCandless demonstrated temperance in that he avoided the vices of alcohol and drug use as a general rule.  It is typical of his high moral code that he would not do so, although it is baffling that he seemed to condone or at least ignore the vice in others--most notably one of his favorite literary heroes, Jack London. 

Clearly, Chris had admirable self-control; he was able to withstand not only the seductions of alcohol and sex but of other sensory comforts as well, for long periods of time.

But applying the term "temperance" to Chris becomes problematic when you look at temperance as "moderation." In the novel, Chris was described as someone who undertook a task with "characteristic immoderation."  His actions clearly demonstrate that, and you could enumerate his many bold adventures in order to prove your case.  More importantly, Chris's intense personality seems the epitome of immoderation.  Consider his strict moral code, his profound, almost tortured passion for beauty, truth, and freedom, and the depth of his bitterness toward his family--admirable or not, these qualities run contrary to the gentler connotation of "temperance."

Work Cited

Krakauer, Jon.  Into the Wild. New York: Anchor Books, 1997.

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