What are the most important events in Chapter 12 of Into the Wild and what is the significance of each?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chapter 12 opens with Chris graduating from high school and embarking on a cross country trip alone.  It is later learned that he got lost in the Mojave desert and almost died, but Chris reacts with anger at gentle parental urging to be more careful.  This is significant because it was the first of many such solo journeys he would undertake in upcoming years, and it accentuates his propensity for both taking chances and refusing to follow the advice of others.

Chris then enters Emory college, where he makes "nearly perfect" grades but becomes increasingly isolated, details that underscore his exceptional intelligence on the one hand and his antisocial nature on the other.

At one point during his college years, Chris learns that his Dad fathered a child with his first wife after Chris was born.  This incident precipitated what was to become a virulent hatred toward his parents, by whom he felt betrayed.

After graduation from Emory, Chris "donated the balance of his bank account...loaded up his car...and (essentially) vanished" from the lives of his family and acquaintances.  This event marked the beginning of years of reckless wandering which would end only with his death.

(all quotes from Chapter 12) 

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Into the Wild

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