One of the key messages of Into the Wild is the whole notion of an individual's role in society. At what point does one's obligation to society as a whole override one's need to express their own individuality? Does a person have an obligation to the whole? Or can one essentially "pack it in." These are some of the questions posed by Chris McCandless's decision to walk into the wild.
One of the more difficult notions for the reader to deal with is the idea of leaving society behind in a quest to "find oneself." This is an option that I think many of us have pondered from time to time. Chris was a person who had many of the things that our society places value on. He had a good family, wonderful educational opportunities, and a "bright future." And yet he cast these "values" aside. Why? Why would someone with the things that society tells us to aspire toward rebuke them? What obligation did he have toward those who loved him and counted on him? Were his actions really selfish? Did he consider these prior to his decision to travel to the Yukon? What's the line between being a visionary and an egotist?
The purpose of this book is not simply to provide a biography of a troubled soul. Perhaps it asks us to consider the responsibilities that we have, not only to ourselves, but to others too.