Into the Wild Summary

Into the Wild is a biography by Jon Krakauer about the life and death of Chris McCandless, who moved to Alaska in the hopes of living a simple life. Chris ultimately died of starvation.

  • While in college, Chris McCandless learned that his father had a second, secret family. Following this revelation, Chris became increasingly distant from his friends and family, eventually embarking on an independent journey across the United States. His body was found two years later in the Alaskan wilderness.

  • Krakauer assembles McCandless's journals, interviews with McCandless's family and friends, and photographs to trace McCandless's journey up until his death.


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Last Updated on October 9, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 554

Into the Wild tells the story of Chris McCandless, a young man who ventured into the wilderness in search of truth and understanding. The book begins with the story of Jim Gallien dropping McCandless off at the mouth of the Stampede Trail, where McCandless would spend the last few months of his life, and ends with reflections on McCandless’s final moments on earth. Between these, we follow many of the adventures that Chris experienced in his three-year trek. Jon Krakauer uses investigative journalism to collect interviews, journal entries, and pictures that weave together the story of McCandless’s journey from affluence to transcendental wilderness exploration.

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The story of McCandless’s descent into the wilderness traces back to issues with his family. The summer before he left on his journey, he took a trip out to California. He met people from his past and learned that his father, Walt, had a second family that he had kept secret from McCandless and his siblings. This revelation created a change in McCandless, and after he graduated from Emory University in the spring of the next year, he donated his savings fund, canceled his lease agreement, and drove west.

McCandless would not have contact with his family for the next two years, and they would not know where he was until his body was discovered in Alaska. After leaving his family at his college graduation in Georgia, McCandless drove his car to Arizona. However, after McCandless camped for some time in a dry riverbed, his car was hit by a flash flood. It then refused to start because it was wet, and he abandoned it along with many of his possessions.

McCandless’s journey took him all over the American Southwest as he hitchhiked from place to place. We learn about his time spent at the Slabs in California and at a grain harvesting company in South...

(The entire section contains 554 words.)

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