Into the Wild Questions and Answers
by Jon Krakauer

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What was Chris's relationship with his parents like?

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Chris McCandless had a difficult, strained relationship with his parents and became estranged from them for the last two years of his life. Chris's father was a successful, intelligent man, who attained wealth and raised his family in a comfortable, affluent suburban household. As Chris grew older and entered high school, he began questioning society's ills and resented the fact that he was raised in a wealthy home with opportunities. Chris became a moral absolutist, who lost himself in the works of Thoreau, Emerson, and London. Chris's rather radical outlook on life differed from his parents,...

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Chris came from a seemingly baggage free, non-dysfunctional household that had accrued generational wealth. His parents were loving, upwardly mobile-- even his bond with a younger sister, Carine, is drama free until he up and leaves for the wilderness for no visible reason. One of the more puzzling questions the book raises is why a young man poised for scholastic and life success, whose upbringing and present day accomplishments making him appear primed for the American dream, would so thoroughly reject these ideals we all accept as "good" without thinking.

With Into the Wild, Krakauer outlines Chris's denial of traditional American markers of growth (capitalism, deforestation, etc.) show that the radical shift in lifestyle is a protest against these things. So while, McCandless's parents weren't bad people, the subject of Into the Wild was so against even trying to live up to their ideals and societal expectation of what he as a young man had to do to carry their torch, that he did the most drastic thing, which was completely remove himself from everything he knew and loved to experience something he thought was a more "real" life experience, perhaps foolishly and to his detriment.