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In Chapter Nine, page 96, Ken Sleight, who is considered somewhat of an expert on the subject of Everett Ruess and his adventures in the wilderness, compares Ruess and Christopher McCandless:
"Everett was strange," Sleight concedes. "Kind of different. But him and McCandless, at least they tried to follow their dream. That's what was great about them. They tried. Not many do."
One of the reasons this quote may be considered important is that it may cause the reader to consider the actions of McCandless in a more "pure" light, as opposed to being centered on selfishness or inconsideration; the reader may more easily forgive McCandless for his lack of preparation.
On page 102 of Chapter Ten, Sam McCandless, who had received a phone call informing him of his younger half-brother's death, says
"...I knew right away. There was no doubt. It was Chris. I went home, picked up Michele, my wife, and drove out to Maryland to tell Dad and Billie. I didn't know what I was going to say. How do you tell someone that their child is dead?"
Earlier in the chapter (page 101), Sam recalls reading an article about an unnamed hiker who had died in the Alaskan wilderness and being unaware of the hiker's identity.
It didn't occur to me that the hiker might be Chris. Never even crossed my mind. It's ironic because when I read the article I thought, 'Oh, my God, what a terrible tragedy. I really feel sorry for the family of this guy, whoever they are. What a sad story.'
These two quotes from Sam McCandless illustrate the conflicting emotions and shock that must have assailed the McCandless clan and those close to "Alex," such as Wayne Westerberg.
Chapter Eleven discloses a lot of information regarding Chris's family, especially his mother, father, and little sister. A better understanding of the dynamics of the home in which Chris was raised allows the reader to form more powerful opinions of Chris's actions as an adult and to better consider the results of his abandonment of this family as it pertains to those individuals. On page 104, Walt McCandless voices the question that must have tormented his family:
"How is it," he wonders aloud as he gazes blankly across Chesapeake Bay," that a kid with so much compassion could cause his parents so much pain?"
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