Krakauer's version of thhe Chriss McCandless story unfolds in chapters and follows a a sequence of events that is not linear and that incorporates stories of similar adventures to achieve a a...

Krakauer's version of thhe Chriss McCandless story unfolds in chapters and follows a a sequence of events that is not linear and that incorporates stories of similar adventures to achieve a a particular narrative purpose. Penn's version of the McCandless story unfolds in visual "chapters" titled "Birth," "Adolescence," "Adulthood" and "Wisdom." How do the different structures of these versions of the McCandless story impact the narrative?

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have to admit that I was very thrown by your question.  I've read Krakauer's account of Chris McCandless, and I know that Corinne McCandless has published a book that details her interpretation of Chris and what happened to him; however, I did not know that any book about McCandless had been written by a person named "Penn."  Then I remembered that the 2007 movie was directed by Sean Penn, and the screenplay was also written by Sean Penn.  I am going to assume that is the "Penn" that your question is referring to.  

I'll start with this.  I really enjoyed Krakauer's book.  But there were parts of it that really annoyed me as a reader.  I didn't like the constant flashback interruptions, and I didn't like the break from McCandless for two entire chapters while Krakauer narrated about other men that McCandless was similar to in various ways.  I understand what Krakauer did, and I appreciated the comparisons, but it still annoyed me a lot as a reader.  I like chronological story telling.  I understand the concept of flashbacks, but I usually don't enjoy them, because it always seems that the story is being broken and new plot lines and characters are being introduced.  

So for me as a reader (and in this case movie watcher), I preferred Penn's more chronological story telling.  I do want to note though that Penn's narrative wasn't free from flashbacks.  His movie and screenplay starts the same way that the book started.  It started with McCandless being dropped off a few months before he dies and then flashes back to the sequences mentioned in your question.  I more enjoyed Penn's focus on McCandless as a singular character and showing his journey in a relatively unbroken narrative.  For viewers and readers, I think Penn's version is more accessible than Krakauer's version. 

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Into the Wild

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