In Into the Wild, what happened when Krakauer returned to his tent after abandoning his quest to scale the north face of the Devil's Thumb?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The answer to this question can be found in Chapter Fifteen of this great account of the life of Chris McCandless. Of course, in this chapter, the author, Krakauer, interrupts his narrative of Chris's life with an event from his own life that echoes with the experience of Chris. Having failed in his first attempt to reach the summit of the Devil's Thumb, a notoriously dangerous mountain in Alaska, he returns to his tent where he is kept there for the majority of the next three days thanks to heavy snow and high winds. Thoroughly discouraged at the end of his third day, he smokes a joint that he had been planning to save as a kind of "victory cigar," and then tries to cook himself some food. He is rather perplexed to smell burning, and turns around:

I spun around in time to see a bag of garbage--into which I'd tossed the match I'd used to light the stove--flare into a smallĀ conflagration. Beating on the fire with my hands, I had it out in a few seconds, but not before a large section of the tent's inner wall vaporized before my eyes. The built-in fly escaped the flames, so it was still more or less weatherproof; now, however, it was approximately thirty degrees colder inside.

This of course makes his position that much more precarious and really forces him to question whether he is able to stay and try again or whether he will need to quit his attempt and return to "civilisation."

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Into the Wild

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