Author John Krakauer does not give readers the answer to this question, as he was unable to interview Chris McCandless and ask about this particular aspect of McCandless's wanderings. As a result, you are free to come up with possible answers of your own.
Practically speaking, the name change allows for McCandless to more easily separate himself from his parents. McCandless is a wandering soul to begin with, but after learning about his father's affair, McCandless very much wanted to get away from what he saw as hypocrisy within his family. By using a different name, McCandless makes it much more difficult for his family to track him down.
The name change also has a theatrical component to it too. McCandless wants to live a particular life, and his family wants him to or expects him to live a different sort of life. McCandless honored his family's wishes for much of his life. He went to school, got good grades, went to college, got a degree, and finished with high marks. He did what was...
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