Ideas for Reports and Papers
1. According to Jon Krakauer, Chris McCandless died as a result of "one or two seemingly insignificant blunders." What were those blunders and how could Chris have avoided them? Discuss the kinds of preparations that someone planning to live in the bush should take before setting out.
2. Who are "Rubber Tramps" and "Leather Tramps"? Describe their way of life. Discuss the pros and cons of a vagabond lifestyle.
3. Consider the various accounts of experiments similar to McCandless's that Krakauer relates. Discuss the kinds of idealism or alienation that lead these young people to abandon past lives and lead potentially dangerous existence.
4. Choose someone who has attempted to live in the wild the way McCandless did and research that person's experiences. Write a short biography about their adventures and the lessons they may have learned.
5. Krakauer seems unwilling to judge either McCandless or any of the people who were involved in his life. Many people have either praised or condemned McCandless for his foolhardiness or Krakauer for his sympathetic approach to telling this story without making judgements. How would you defend or criticize the author's refusal to claim a position?
6. There are instances in this book where Krakauer introduces autobiographical material and suggests that his own experiences influence his perspective. Discuss an episode from your own life where your feelings about past experiences may have influenced your judgment or understanding of someone else.
7. The often conflicted relationships between children and their parents is one of the themes of Into the Wild. Describe and discuss some obstacles to communication between generations that you can identify either in this book, or in your experience.
8. Krakauer claims that he tries to "minimize" his "authorial presence." Describe what you think he means by this, and discuss whether you should consider authorial presence when you read other kinds of literature, such as a work of fiction.
9. Krakauer uses quotations from other books about the wilderness as well as anecdotes about other ill-fated young adventurers as intertexts in Into the Wild. Judging from your own response to this book, discuss how the use of intertexts contributes to your understanding of the story.