From Into the Wild, why did Chris McCandless reject the lifestyle of his parents?
Chris is described as being a self-taught student of Tolstoy, Thoreau, and Transcendentalism; his ideals focused on self-growth and harmony with nature, not on materialism. Chris grew up in an upper-middle-class family, and so was attuned to the great privileges he had received in life, especially compared to others. Chris decided that his life should be spent in work and self-reflection, and so abandoned his family and set out on the road.
At long last he was unencumbered, emancipated from the stifling world of his parents and peers, a world of abstraction and security and material excess, aworld in which he felt grievously cut off from the raw throb of existence.
(Krakaur, Into the Wild, amazon.com)
Chris had a basic ideal: that humanity was too focused and obsessed with material goods and money, and that they had lost the most important focus of all, that of harmony with nature and with fellow man. Chris found his parents to be part of he culture that he rejected; they wanted him to go to school, find a career, and follow their own paths, but he wanted to find his own path without coercion. In the end, he overcompensated for what he felt was an overprivileged life, and moved to the opposite extreme, without a home or family.