Why was Gilliam concerned about Alex?

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jim Gilliam is an experienced outdoorsman.  He understands what it takes to survive out in the Alaskan wilderness.  Simply by looking at "Alex's" pack, he judges that it is far too light to carry the necessary gear for the present season.  

"Alex’s backpack looked as though it weighed only twenty-five or thirty pounds, which struck Gallien—an accomplished hunter and woodsman—as an improbably light load for a stay of several months in the back-country, especially so early in the spring. “He wasn’t carrying anywhere near as much food and gear as you’d expect a guy to be carrying for that kind of trip,” Gallien recalls. "

Gilliam is put a bit more at ease as he talks with Alex (Chris).  He judges Alex to be intelligent and not completely clueless about what he proposes to do.  Alex asked good questions about the things to hunt and what plants were okay to eat.  All good questions.  Still, Gallium is concerned.  Alex didn't have the right kind of boots.  His rifle was woefully underpowered.  No axe, no compass, etc.  Gilliam still believes that Alex is not prepared enough. 

"His gear seemed exceedingly minimal for the harsh conditions of the interior, which in April still lay buried under the winter snowpack. Alex’s cheap leather hiking boots were neither waterproof nor well insulated. His rifle was only .22 caliber, a bore too small to rely on if he expected to kill large animals like moose and caribou, which he would have to eat if he hoped to remain very long in the country. He had no ax, no bug dope, no snowshoes, no compass."

Gilliam became more concerned after Alex showed him on a map where he intended to go.  Gilliam knows that the hunting is sparse there and there isn't much shelter either.  Add to that the large bear presence.  Gilliam is right to be worried, because as Gilliam points out each potential problem to Alex, Alex seems to flippantly disregard it. Alex is unprepared.  Gilliam knows it, but he can't convince Alex to change his mind.  

Read the study guide:
Into the Wild

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