What ultimately happened to Reuss in Into the Wild?

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enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Everett Ruess (1914-1934) was an adventurer, outdoorsman, writer, poet, and artist.  Being drawn to the wilderness areas of the Western United States, he had hiked solo in Yosemite and the Utah and Arizona desert. He was last seen hiking near Escalante, Utah in November 1934, and his remains have never been found.

Like the protagonist Christopher McCandless (1968-1992) in the novel Into the Wild, Ruess sought the beauty of the wilderness and preferred his own company in his quiet contemplation of the uncorrupted natural world.  A few generations later, McCandless seems, unfortunately, to have repeated Ruess' experience by following his fellow predecessor a bit too closely, eventually dying alone in the Alaskan wilderness.  

Chapter 9 of the novel details a comparison between McCandless and Ruess, and attempts to explore the motivations that drove these men to live so on the edge, both literally and figuratively.  The novel states that Reuss had written letters to his parents stating that he may never return.