In Into the Wild, how does Chris McCandless isolate himself from his friends?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is clear that Chris was able to develop friendships easily as he travelled around, but also when he was at college. However, the way in which he ended those friendships was through constant moving and a refusal to pursue them any further. His goal was always to go "into the wild," in Alaska, and he clearly felt that relationships would be something that could hamper him as he pursued that goal, rather than something that would be a help and a support. Note, for example, how he severs his relationships with Westerburg as he goes to Alaska with the following message:

Please return all mail I receive to the sender. It might be a very long time before I return South. If this adventure proves fatal and you don't ever hear from me again, I want you to know you're a great man.

In the same way, Chris sent a card to Jan Burres and Bob with a similar message:

This is the last communication you shall receive from me. I now walk out to live amonst the wild. Take care, it was great knowing you.

Chris therefore isolated himself from his friends through a conscious policy of severing those relationships and moving on regularly. Even though in all of his significant friendships he had managed to develop a meaningful and deep relationship, where he both cared for others and others cared for him deeply, it is clear that his focus on the Emersonian ideal of self-reliance and independence meant that he felt he had to sever those links in order to be truly successful in his quest of going to Alaska and living independently.

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Into the Wild

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