The page numbers appearing in any novel depend on the particular edition selected. In the case of Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, there are numerous editions by many publishers. When searching the available texts in book form and online, one discovers that the passage chosen appears in Chapter Eighteen entitled, “The Stampede Trail, anywhere between pages 129 and 189. It is typically found on the second page of the chapter.
In the Metropolitan College online edition, the quote is found on page 129. The quote is extremely significant to the understanding of the work, the protagonist’s motivation for his journey, and the lessons learned at the end of his life:
NATURE/PURITY, he printed in bold characters at the top of the page.
"Oh, how one wishes sometimes to escape from the meaningless dullness of human eloquence, from all those sublime phrases, to take refuge in nature, apparently so inarticulate, or in the wordlessness of long, grinding labor, of sound sleep, of true music, or of a human understanding rendered speechless by emotion!"
McCandless starred and bracketed the paragraph and circled "refuge in nature" in black ink. Next to "And so it turned out that only a life similar to the life of those around us, merging with it without a ripple, is genuine life, and that an unshared happiness is not happiness ... And this was most vexing of all," he noted, "HAPPINESS ONLY REAL WHEN SHARED.”
The author’s work is a psychological novel portraying protagonist Christopher McCandless’ journey of self-discovery. McCandless comes from a comfortable middle-class family, but his relationship with his father is troubled. Despite knowledge of the fact that many people trek into the wilderness never to return, he opts to travel to Denali National Park in Alaska where he gets trapped and loses his life. Before his death, he writes the “happiness” quote in the margin of Boris Pasternak’s novel Doctor Zhivago. This is of significance because it reveals the protagonist’s unfortunate delayed awakening that ultimately results in his demise. The passages McCandless underlines in Pasternak’s book reveal the protagonist’s realization that a life of service to others, similar to the one he once had and thrown away, would have been a better choice than the path he chose to follow:
He had just finished reading Doctor Zhivago, a book that incited him to scribble excited notes in the margins and underline several passages:
"Lara walked along the tracks following a path worn by pilgrims and then turned into the fields. Here she stopped and, closing her eyes, took a deep breath of the flower-scented air of the broad expanse around her. It was dearer to her than her kin, better than a lover, wiser than a book. For a moment she rediscovered the purpose of her life. She was here on earth to grasp the meaning of its wild enchantment and to call each thing by its right name, or, if this were not within her power, to give birth out of love for life to successors who would do it in her place.”
As alluded to in the book’s epilogue, the protagonist’s hasty decision as a young man serves as a lesson to all. This is summed up in both the “happiness” quote and the Pasternak novel notation.