Why did Chris quit McDonald’s in Into the Wild?

Chris quit his job at McDonalds because it seemed inauthentic and he had trouble following its many rules and interacting with authority figures. Besides not fitting in with the restaurant’s mass-culture, corporate environment, he had trouble getting along with his supervisor and the other employees, whom he considered “plastic.”

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

At various times in Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer describes how Chris McCandless was confronted with the dilemma that he needed money to survive, but the sources of available employment did not match his preferred way of life, including falling short of his ethical standards. On some occasions, Chris found work that he felt was rewarding and valuable to perform, and he appreciated his bosses. More often, Chris experienced moral qualms before he began a job but accepted it because he was broke or trying to save money to carry out his long-term plan of living off the grid and away from “civilization.”

At one point in his Western meanderings, he relocated to Bullhead City, Arizona (chapter 5). Chris temporarily resumed his real identity, abandoning the pseudonym of Alex that he had been employing. One reason seemed to be that he needed his Social Security number to get a job. He did not have a fixed residence but stayed for a while in an empty trailer.

Chris worked for about three weeks at a local McDonalds, doing his best to acclimate to the numerous rules. Punctuality was not an issue, but he found it challenging to have to wear socks every day as the dress code required. Without regular access to a shower, he bathed infrequently—to the extent that other employees noticed his body odor. A dispute with the manager over showering was one factor triggering his resignation. When he traveled to California, he told his friends there that he objected to working with “plastic people.”

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial