How does Krakauer characterize Chris' death?  Was it unavoidable?  Was it a result of Chris' negligent actions?  Write a paragraph explaining how you believe Krakauer wants the reader to...

How does Krakauer characterize Chris' death?  Was it unavoidable?  Was it a result of Chris' negligent actions?  Write a paragraph explaining how you believe Krakauer wants the reader to interpret Chris' adventure and his death.  

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shake99 | Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild recounts the tragic story of Chris McCandless, a young college graduate who hikes into the Alaskan wilds in search of adventure and independence.

Throughout most of the book, Krakauer characterizes McCandless as bright, energetic, and optimistic. He has the courage to strike out on his own and the belief in his own ability to handle whatever challenges come his way.

While this outlook is commendable and attractive, it is also fraught with danger. Chris has a series of mishaps and is repeatedly helped by others when he finds himself stuck or in difficulty. When he finally heads for the wild and dangerous wilderness of Alaska, certain of his own success, Krakauer has prepared the reader for the worst.

Unfortunately, Chris’ death reveals the danger of confidence and optimism when it is unfounded. Chris is not prepared for Alaska’s harsh, unforgiving nature. While he does make it to a place deep in the wild, he makes a crucial mistake that leads to his death. In Chapter 18, “The Stampede Trail,” Krakauer relates how Chris died after accidentally eating a poisonous plant:

. . . there seemed to be little doubt that McCandless—rash and incautious by nature—had committed a careless blunder, confusing one plant for another, and died as a consequence.

Thus, Krakauer lays the blame at McCandless’ feet; he simply was not experienced and knowledgeable enough to survive in such an inhospitable environment.

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