Krakauer tells us in his Author’s Note that the interpretation of McCandless’ actions is very much dependent on the individual and their own history, as much as a knowledge of the events concerning McCandless-
My convictions should be apparent soon enough, but I will leave it to the reader to form his or her own opinion of Chris McCandless.
Krakauer sets out to offer detailed evidence to support his theory that McCandless was a passionate and exacting young man, driven by his complex human relationships to seek a clearer understanding of life by challenging himself and living at the mercy of nature. Through the use of literary reference and interviewing those who knew McCandless, we are given a picture of an intelligent young man who had a profound effect on those he met, and whose fervour was all-consuming.
My personal viewpoint is then formed from my experiences in relation to those of McCandless. I see the torture he put his family and friends through as supremely selfish and cruel. He was an arrogant young man who built his life on the fictional experiences of writers he adored but who were wiser to catalogue the experiences of the wild rather than live it. Krakauer himself reflects-
Like Chris MCandless, I was a raw youth who mistook passion for insight and acted according to an obscure, gap-ridden logic…I came to appreciate that mountains make poor receptacles for dreams.