Thoreau was an important influence on Chris McCandless. Chris carried books by Thoreau with him into the wilderness and embraced Thoreau's idea that a simple life, lived close to nature, is the best and richest kind of life. However, as the quotes below suggest, Thoreau influenced Chris in other ways as well:
And in the chapter on “Higher Laws” in Thoreau’s Walden, a copy of which was also discovered in the bus, McCandless circled “Chastity is the flowering of man; and what are called Genius, Heroism, Holiness, and the like, are but various fruits which succeed it.”
The quote shows that Chris took Thoreau with him to Alaska and was influenced by his mentor's view that chastity (sexual abstinence) yields desirable outcomes.
His ambivalence toward sex echoes that of celebrated others who embraced wilderness with single-minded passion—Thoreau (who was a lifelong virgin) and the naturalist John Muir, most prominently—to say nothing of countless lesser-known pilgrims, seekers, misfits, and adventurers.
Once again, we see that Thoreau's ideas of placing the wilderness as a passion ahead of sex had an influence on the young adventurer.
Chris’s seemingly anomalous political positions were perhaps best summed up by Thoreau’s declaration in “Civil Disobedience”: “I heartily accept the motto—’That government is best which governs least.’"
Chris's reading went beyond Walden to Thoreau's libertarian essay. Thoreau influenced Chris politically in favor of small government, which would allow him the most freedom to pursue his wilderness treks—and Thoreau influenced him toward other acts of civil disobedience as well, such as leaving his car abandoned in a park.