What effect do the various genres have in Into the Wild?

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Certainly one cannot help but be struck by the variety of genres that are included in this fascinating non-fiction book. It seems to be such a mix of different types of story: part survival, part journey, part coming of age, part man vs. nature, part nature documentary, part philosophical reflections. This perhaps indicates the way in which Chris McCandless was trying to live a cliche, drawn from a variety of literary sources and never really quite succeeding. This is one sense we are given as we read the colliding genres that bash against each other. Chris McCandless was trying to live other lives and other adventures that had been set down before him in literature. His life was never really quite his own. As we follow Chris on his adventures and then witness the author's own similar adventures, we see a young man who, like the author perhaps, couldn't "resist stealing up to the edge of doom and peering over the brink." However, the tragic nature of the story of Chris McCandless also causes us to view his efforts in a somewhat negative vein, as he merely attempts to repeat the exploits of others before him.

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