What are some literary devices used by the author of Into the Wild?

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The author of Into the Wild is John Krakauer.  He makes use of a lot of different literary devices.  I'll pick three literary devices that I believe that Krakauer uses to great effect during the novel.  

The first is anecdotes.  An anecdote is a short and interesting story that is often used to support or demonstrate some point.  While most of the book is focused on Krakauer explaining McCandless's final months, Krakauer does at times leave that narrative in order to discuss something from his own life.  

As a youth, I am told, I was willful, self-absorbed, intermittently reckless, moody. I disappointed my father in the usual ways. Like McCandless, figures of male authority aroused in me a confusing medley of corked fury and hunger to please.

Krakauer's anecdotal evidence serves as a way to show readers that McCandless wasn't a complete anomaly.  The anecdotes also help readers better understand why Krakauer feels a connection to McCandless. 

Another literary device used by Krakauer is similar to anecdotes.  Krakauer uses comparisons to great effect.  He devotes two entire chapters to comparing McCandless to Gene Rosellini, John Waterman, Carl McCunn, and Everett Ruess.

The third literary device that Krakauer frequently uses during the novel is flashback.  Krakauer does not narrate McCandless's journey in chronological order.  The novel begins with McCandless being dropped off at the start of the Stampede Trail.  The book then flashes back to various times in McCandless's life that led up to his death.  Krakauer even narrates about times when McCandless was in high school.  


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Into the Wild

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