What are some significant quotes from Into the Wild?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Individual readers are going to find multiple quotes with varying significance to each reader, so feel free to pick some quotes and explain why it is significant. For me, I like one of the early quotes from McCandless found in chapter one.

Gallien asked whether he had a hunting license. “Hell, no,” Alex scoffed.

“How I feed myself is none of the government’s business. Fuck their stupid rules.”

I like this quote a lot because it very quickly alerts readers to a lot of McCandless's personality and motivations. By this point in the book, we don't know much about McCandless, but the quote shows that he is quite adamant about his business being his business. The use of a swear word and "stupid" really drives home his feelings about the government.

I've also really liked the quote from his third grade teacher.

"His teacher pulled us aside and told us that ‘Chris marches to a different drummer.’"

This quote further implants into the minds of readers that McCandless didn't necessarily grow into being an independent loner after he discovered his father's affair. It shows that McCandless has always been a free-spirited, independent person.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Two very significant quotes come from Chris's personal writings. In the first one, he had just buried his possessions in order to prevent theft and mentions that not having a camera means that he cannot take pictures to document his experiences.

It is the experiences, the memories, the great triumphant joy of living to the fullest extent in which real meaning is found. God it's great to be alive!

This quote shows the influence of transcendentalism on Chris's life, and the appeal of his personal ideals; without the material pictures or a concrete method of recording his life, Chris can focus entirely on his memories, which can become greater with time. A picture can bring back memories of how real and physical experiences are, while memories can become almost mythical.

The second quote comes from a sheet of plywood on which Chris scratched what might be a personal creed. The last lines show his determination, his defiance of societal norms, and his joy at being able to live his dreams:

no longer to be poisoned by civilization he flees, and walks alone upon the land to become lost in the wild.
alexander supertramp MAY 1992
([sic] Krakauer, Into the Wild, Amazon.com)

Both these quotes share Chris's desire for isolation and personal growth through self-denial; they also show that he was absolutely committed to his goals. He tended to write about himself in the third-person, and might have been intending to convert his journals into a book later on.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial