Into the Wild Questions and Answers
by Jon Krakauer

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In Into the Wild is it better to conform to societal expectations, or to eschew norms and pursue your own interests?

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Jonathan Beutlich, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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bookM.A. from Dordt University

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That depends.  Do you think Chris McCandless was a hero and somebody to look up to.  Or do you think he was an idiot?  

There isn't a correct answer to your question.  It depends on who you ask.  I know how Chris McCandless would have answered.  Chris would have said it's better to eschew norms and pursue your own interests.  In chapter 6, Chris writes the longest letter he will write on his two year "adventure" to a man named Ronald Franz.  The letter is the closest thing to an admission of why Chris does what he does, and why he thinks that others (like Ron) should do the same.  Here is a small section of that letter.  

"So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic...

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