Let us not look at the whole story here as one of Man versus Nature in which a little lack of preparation lead to his demise.
Instead, if we consider his journey as one that epitomizes life as we all live it, our view of what Chris was doing would be a lot different. Do we all have to go about our lives fully prepared, think twice before taking each step, tread down only the worn-out path, be a slave to life in a sense...
Chris' journey is not a not-to-do handbook for the boy scout, it is more, or even if it actually isn't, should be surely looked at in that way.
I thought Krakauer was a little guilty of this. It's easy to get caught up in the idea of abandoning all material possessions, leaving our careers and even divorcing ourselves from family and friends for the simple life, but McCandless did so in a reckless way. It wasn't a suicide--he didn't want or intend to die--but it was a suicidal act to go into the wilderness as unprepared as he was, and I don't think it should be romanticized.
I disagree with the previous post in that I do believe that his own recklessness caused Chris McCandless's death. Although his self-reliance and anti-materialistic philosophies are certainly to be admired, his lack of respect for the wilderness and the details of the specific ecosystem in which he attempted his adventure suggest more than just a mistake. He planned poorly and was poorly prepared for such an adventure. Too little food, too little equipment, and too little knowledge of the area display his foolishness and his simple violation of that old boy scout motto, "be prepared."
Even in the American context of "idol" as in American "Idol,"(someone famous, popular, or even winner of a contest, which has its merits), I don't think it applies; and I'm sure Chris would not want to be remembered as this kind of idol or one to be worshipped.
I agree in principle that he's admirable: extremely so. He essentially abandoned all material possessions and superficialities to try to live an authentic life. It wasn't necessarily his recklessness that caused his death. It was simply a mistake: a mistake more easily made in the wild, far away from a phone or a hospital. He is a model (better word than idol) of anti-materialism and self-reliance: sort of like Thoreau, although a bit more of the "rugged individual" sort because Thoreau was not that far from the next town. Not to mention, because of the bombardment of media and the showcasing of shallow lifestyles, being anti-materialistic is probably much more difficult now than in Thoreau's time. Or, it depends on historical context: it's equally difficult in any period of history to be an outsider.
This question should be on the discussion board.
I think you should restate the question to ask whether Chris is someone to be emulated. The word "idol" connotes worship and adoration, as in love for a god. Why would anyone want to make a mere human into an idol to be worshiped? In Chris's case, why would anyone want to worship a person who was so reckless that he caused his own death?
That's my opinion, and I'm sticking to it. I'm sure you'll get many more interesting responses.
No, Chris should not be idolized in any form or fashion.
Let us not forget that his actions resulted in his death due to improper planning, gear and training. This is nothing to idolize. He was arrogant and self absorbed. Not qualities that I think should be emulated.