From Into the Wild, why are Chris's private life and his personal decisions on how to live seen in such a negative light?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chris McCandless's life became a public topic after Jon Krakauer wrote an article for Outside Magazine, and followed it with a nonfiction book about Chris's life. Once people found out about Chris and his idealistic life, opinion tended to follow two paths: one group viewed Chris as a modern-day Thoreau, searching for his own meaning in life through the beauty and hardships of the wilderness; another group viewed Chris as a naive idealist without the common sense to prepare himself, mentally and physically, to survive on his own.

Some readers admired the boy immensely for his courage and noble ideals; others [thought] that he was a reckless idiot, a wacko, a narcissist who perished out of arrogance and stupidity...
(Krakauer, Into the Wild,

Public opinion is driven both by media attention and by personal ideals; outdoorsmen and survivalists saw Chris's death as an educational tale about preparatory failure, while ordinary people were drawn to Chris's individualism and his drive to live a simpler life. In the end, each person makes their own judgement on Chris and his life; the facts of his life remain constant, while emotional interpretation is, as always, subjective.

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Into the Wild

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