How does the structure of Into the Wild contribute to the theme of the pursuit of happiness?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is worth thinking about how carefully Krakauer structures this book and in particular how the narrative shifts between two sections of the life of Chris McCandless. It starts, for example, with his arrival in Alaska and his last reported contact with another human before reaching his long-awaited goal of the Alaskan wilds. Then we flick back to Chris's youth and childhood, and what he did before he reached Alaska, focussing on the people that he had contact with and the way that he had an impact on them. As this excellent book develops, constantly the nature and content of the narrative forces us to ask deep and hard questions about happiness and how it is constituted and what price we are willing to pay for it. The narrative culminates in the death of Chris McCandless and then the revisit to the actual site of his death by the author. We are haunted by this eventual culmination in the death of the protagonist and then the visit, and this forces us to think about whether Chris did actually achieve a state of happiness in his life, even though he paid such a high price for it.

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Into the Wild

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