How does Krakauer alter his narrative stance in Chapter Six?

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rareynolds eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chapter Six in Into the Wild is devoted to the story of Ron Franz and his friendship with Chris McCandless. There are a few changes in the narrative approach Krakauer takes in this chapter. For one thing, he acknowledges the role he himself has played in McCandless' story: he writes about how Ron contacts him, seeking information about Chris. Krakauer also is indirectly responsible for Ron learning about Chris's death, since he hears of it from some hitchhikers who have read Krakauer's piece in Outside magazine.

More than this, the chapter is less about McCandless's movements than his relationship with Ron. Despite their fondness for each other, McCandless leaves Ron several times. In an effort to keep Chris close by, Ron even offers to adopt him as his grandson (Chris evades the offer, telling Ron he'll think about it "when he gets back from Alaska"). We get some additional insight into Chris and his inner state through this interchange, and how his friendship for Ron exists in tension with his need to be on the road. He is not willing to give up his freedom to be with Ron, so, instead, he advises Ron to hit the road himself. Incredibly, Ron does just that, packing up his house and living in a van in the desert.

The chapter also represents a shift in tone and point of view. McCandless's actions are seen in the context of how they effect Ron. Krakauer, while clearly reporting what Ron has told him, adopts a more novelistic approach in the chapter, one which examines Ron's feelings and examines the emotional cost McCandless' actions had on him. Ron's devotion to Chris -- not Chris's romantic dedication to the open road -- emerges as focal point of the chapter, and changes the way we think about Chris.

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Into the Wild

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