In Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer presents the story in non-chronological order. What is the effect of this narrative choice?

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kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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By recounting the story of Chris McCandless in a non-chronological way, Krakauer reveals that he is not just telling the story of McCandless’ life and death, but is concerned to explore the motives which drove such a passionate and fearless individual. Krakauer is trying to educate the reader in to the influences which affected McCandless to make seemingly self-destructive decisions, and to turn his back on what could have been a comfortable life.

Krakauer uses quotations from the literary inspirations which drew McCandless into the wild: Tolstoy,London, Thoreau. The text is also filled with McCandless’ own words: in letters and postcards he sent, and graffiti he composed when he was close to death.

The text is as much about what drives a man such as McCandless as his story in particular. Krakauer himself experienced the elation of pitting himself against Nature and the elements, and explains the purpose of his narrative in the Author’s Note-

In trying to understand McCandless, I inevitably came to reflect on other, larger subjects as well: the grip wilderness has on the American imagination, the allure high-risk activities hold for young men of a certain mind, the complicated, highly charged bond that exists between fathers and sons. The result of this meandering inquiry is the book now before you.  

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