What is the significance of the opening quotation from Jack London? Chapter 2, page 9

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"Dark spruce forst frowned on either side the frozen waterway. The trees had been stripped by a recent wind of their white covering of frost, and they seemed to lean toward each other, black and ominous, in the fading light. A vast silence reigned over the land. The land itself...

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"Dark spruce forst frowned on either side the frozen waterway. The trees had been stripped by a recent wind of their white covering of frost, and they seemed to lean toward each other, black and ominous, in the fading light. A vast silence reigned over the land. The land itself was a desolation, lifeless, without movement, so lone and cold that the spirit of it was not even that of sadness. There was a hint in it of laughter, but of a laughter more terrible than any sadness—a laughter that was mirthless as the smile of the Sphinx, a laughter cold as the frost and partaking of the grimness of infallibility. It was the masterful and incommunicable wisdom of eternity laughing at the futility of life and the effort of life. It was the Wild, the savage, frozen-hearted Northland Wild."

In many ways, Chris McCandless was a romantic. He saw the wilderness not only as a challenge but as an ideal... a way to live purely and on one's own, at one with nature. It was this idealism that made him myopic... blind to the wild in the word wilderness. Wilderness sounds amorphous, generalized. But wild is wild: unpredictable, unknown, uncharted and unkind.... brutally indifferent and unkind, laughing coldly and without emotion at the folly of the individual who is starry-eyed and unprepared.

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