What literary devices are used in chapters 1 and 2 of the book Into the Wild by John Krakauer?

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are a lot of different literary devices used in Krakauer's book Into the Wild. Chapters 1 and 2 are no exceptions.  

A common literary device that Krakauer uses throughout the book (and chapters 1 and 2) is the flashback technique.  Krakauer frequently alternates between narrating about his own research into Chris's life and flashing back to narrating what Chris was doing during his wanderings before his death.  Chapter 1 begins with a flashback to Chris beginning the last few weeks of his life in Alaska.  Chronologically, it is just about the most recent flashback.  

Another literary technique that Krakauer uses is figurative language.  His descriptions of the nature that Chris was surviving in are nothing short of beautiful.  

Between the flinty crests of the two outermost escarpments of the Outer Range runs an east-west trough, maybe five miles across, carpeted in a boggy amalgam of muskeg, alder thickets, and veins of scrawny spruce.

A third literary technique that Krakauer tries to establish right from the start is tone.  Obviously every writer establishes tone, so I want to emphasize what Krakauer's tone is.  Krakauer attempts to maintain an objective tone.  He tries to tell the story as an objective based writer and researcher might tell the story.  He does this by stringing sentences together that are free from figurative language.  They narrate facts and only facts. 

The trail was blazed in the 1930s by a legendary Alaska miner named Earl Pilgrim; it led to antimony claims he’d staked on Stampede Creek, above the Clearwater Fork of the Toklat River. In 1961, a Fairbanks company, Yutan Construction, won a contract from the new state of Alaska (statehood having been granted just two years earlier) to upgrade the trail, building it into a road on which trucks could haul ore from the mine year-round.

Krakauer mostly succeeds in this tone, but there are times when his tone shifts to passionate defense of Chris.  

jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One literary device that Krakauer uses in the first chapter is allusion or referencing other literary works. For example, he says that the young man Gallien picks up in Alaska (who turns out to be Chris McCandless) is trying to "live out ill-considered Jack London fantasies" (page 4). By referring to Jack London, Krakauer gives McCandless's quest a romantic flavor, as McCandless believes that he is like the heroic figures in Jack London's stories of the north.

The author also uses figurative language, including metaphors. For example, he writes that people think the wilderness "will patch all the holes in their lives" (page 4). In this metaphor, people's lives are compared to tattered clothes or tires with holes in them that can be patched. In chapter 2, Krakauer writes of the "blizzard of dust and swirling aspen leaves" (page 13) caused by the arrival of the police helicopter. He also writes, using a simile, that the Outer Range "sprawls across the flats like a rumpled blanket on an unmade bed" (page 9). 

He also uses parallelism, which involves writing phrases in the same structure. For example, he writes of McCandless, "He had no ax, no bug dope, no snowshoes, no compass" (page 5). Using parallelism allows the author to emphasize how little McCandless had with him when he went to Alaska. 

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Into the Wild

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