Into the Wild Questions and Answers
by Jon Krakauer

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In "Into the Wild," why did McCandless reject his parents' lifestyle?

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Chris's adherence to the ascetic principles set forth by the likes of Henry Thoreau and Leo Tolstoy set him on a path of self-righteous rejection of the rampant materialism with which he was raised. Chris grew up in an affluent suburb, raised by parents who enjoyed the lucrative gains of their hard work. Chris's household was abusive, though, and his father had fathered a child with his first wife after marrying Chris's mother. Chris saw such violence and hypocrisy as further evidence of wealth's corruption.

However, it is important to note that Chris's rebellions against his privileged upbringing were very much enabled by that very privilege. Being white, male, straight, able-bodied, wealthy, and college-educated allowed Chris to pursue his wanderlust and voluntary poverty with a golden ticket out of that lifestyle whenever he wanted it. The book suggests that Chris's Alaska adventure was to be his last before he began living more conventionally. Thus, it seems that his rebellion was a...

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