What were Chris's views of work and success in society from Into the Wild?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chris saw his parents as a perfect example of the corruption in society. They were well-off, had status in the community, and were raising their children to follow in their footsteps. Chris wanted something different, and viewed success in society as a chain that restrained him from new experiences. Although he understood the need to work and make money, he never tried to excel at any one task; when he worked in a fast-food restaurant, his co-workers remember that he always worked at the same steady pace, never stressing himself even when the place was busy.

[Chris], the teenage Tolstoyan, believed that wealth was shameful, corrupting, inherently evil -- which is ironic because Chris was a natural-born capitalist with anuncanny knack for making a buck.
(Krakauer, Into the Wild, Amazon.com)

This worldview came to a head when Chris symbolically burned all of his paper money, leaving himself to survive entirely on his own merits. He tried to keep moving, never staying in one place too long, and never making emotional connections that might constrain his movements. However, in an emotional moment with his father, Chris did reveal that he respected a hard work ethic and the drive to succeed for the sake of family. Chris's views were complex and hard to define, but it is clear that he valued personal integrity over most other traits.

mkcapen1 | Student

Chris McCandless was very anti-establishment.  He inherited money from a deceased relative for college.  He was a very intelligent young man, but he decided to quit college and gave his money to charity.  His father had been financially comfortable and Chris had grown up having cars and nice things, but for him there was a need to escape the restraints of socialization and economic success. 

When Chris needed something he would work long enough to make money in order to get to the next part of his journey.  He did not want much money nor to have to be committed to one job or place for very long.  He preferred social isolation to spending time in groups of people.

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Into the Wild

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