From Into the Wild, what places, events and people were important to Chris McCandless?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chris McCandless tried to avoid creating emotional attachments to people, believing that it would hinder him in the pursuit of his personal goals. Therefore, although many of the people he met on his journey were important to him, he never tried to make them part of his own life, preferring to accept their hospitality and then leave before they made any requests. Wayne Westerberg and Ron Franz, with whom Chris corresponded regularly, were perhaps the two men who got to know Chris the best. Through reading, he was inspired by Leo Tolstoy, Jack London, and Henry David Thoreau; he adopted many of the ideals of those authors, becoming a modern-day acolyte of transcendentalism and spartan living.

Similarly, he had no permanent residence, preferring to travel so as not to get bogged down in a daily life routine. However, the old bus that he found in Alaska, where he lived and later died, is probably the most important place in his life; whether he personally considered it important is a question only he could have answered.

One of the most important events in Chris's journeys came after his car was disabled by a flash flood; this spurred him to take an even more rigorous approach to spartan living:

He saw the flash flood as an opportunity to shed unnecessary baggage... He buried his Winchester deer-hunting rifle and a few other possessions that he might one day want to recover. Then, in a gesture that would have done both Thoreau and Tolstoy proud, he arranged  ll his paper currency in a pile on the sand... and put a match to it.
(Krakauer, Into the Wild,

This event exemplifies Chris's determination to live solely through his own abilities, not even relying on minor comforts such as the ability to buy food. Throughout his journeys, Chris used every opportunity to rid himself of as much physical and emotional baggage as possible.

Read the study guide:
Into the Wild

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