Like Christopher McCandless, Thoreau turned his back on what he perceived as a false, corrupt urban civilization in order to get closer to nature. He romanticized the natural world, seeing it as a place of peace and repose where a man could lead an authentic life, free from the artificialities of city life.
Throughout his adventures, McCandless sees Thoreau as almost like a lifestyle guru, guiding him through the various challenges he must face. But it's not enough for McCandless to lead a simple life as Thoreau did; he must go one step further and strip down his very existence to the barest of bare essentials. In that sense, Thoreau is to McCandless what Virgil was to Dante in The Divine Comedy; he'll lead him up to the gates of the paradise he seeks, but the pilgrim on this spiritual journey must make that last fateful step on his own.
As noted above, Thoreau, and especially Walden, was intimately woven, as was Tolstoy, into McCandless's emotional life and his quest to strip away the...
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