What was Chris's relationship with his parents like?

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rareynolds eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chris had a complicated relationship with his parents, particularly with his father, Walt. In Chapter 11 of Into The Wild, Krakauer describes Chris's childhood. Walt was a perfectionist, who pushed Chris hard to be the best, but as Chris grew into adolescence he began to resent his father's overbearing nature more and more. In many ways, Chris resembled his father; he too could be stubborn and a perfectionist. Chris was a straight-A student, an excellent musician, a natural athlete and top long distance runner. But, on page 111, Walt laments that Chris, despite his great natural abilities, was uncoachable: if you "tried to polish him, bring out that final 10%, a wall would go up." On the other hand, Chris paid a moving tribute to his father when he graduated from college, giving him a telescope and thanking his parents for their many sacrifices. Yet when he discovered that his father had maintained his relationship with his first wife, having a child with her after starting a family with Chris's mother, and that both parents had concealed this, Chris came to reject his parents. In fact, Krakauer says that, because of his father's deception, his "'entire childhood seemed like a deception.'"

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Into the Wild

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