by Erin K. | | 4 Comments | Tags:

Welcome to Week 3 of the Online Book Club.

We’re talking about Jon Krakauer’s book, Into the Wild. Make sure to check back and read our first two posts if you’re new to us this week.

I’m sure, after you have read over half of the book, you can see that this story is very appealing for those who aspire to live a simpler life. In fact, this book prompts hundreds of people each year to travel to Alaska and see the place where Chris died. Unfortunately, the place that he died is surrounded by danger, so many people die on their quest to see what Chris saw. Check out this article from Outside magazine if you’re interested to learn more about this problem.

I think one of the most surprising things about this story is the fact that Chris spends so much time sending postcards to people he meets on his travels. I think I assumed that he wanted to be left alone and not make connections with others, but it seems like he was really interested in staying connected with friends. The letters that Krakauer includes in the narrative are really helpful for me to feel like this story is about a real man, not just some made-up adventurer.

In chapters 11 and 12, we learn more about Chris’ childhood and the messy circumstances that surrounded his death. Krakauer explains that Chris’ dad was married to another woman when he entered into a relationship with Chris’ mom, and he moved between both houses when Chris was really little. Reading about Chris’ childhood helped me better understand why he wanted to break ties with his family. Also, as I mentioned last week, the documentary Return to the Wild went into even more detail, so make sure to watch that if you want to hear more about Chris’ childhood.

What were your thoughts from this week’s reading? Are you still interested in the story? What do you think of Chris? Do you understand why he would want to live out in the wild and away from his family?

Check out this clip from ABC news that provides some of the footage from Return to the Wild, and check out Chris’ sister’s book, The Wild Truth, if you’re interested to learn more about Chris’ backstory.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments. And make sure to come back next week as we talk about the end of the book.


4 Responses to “Into the Wild: Week 3”

  1. Jane Engle

    While I can understand why readers of the Outside article, particularly those living in Alaska, reacted in the way they did, it does not seem to me that they are looking at Chris as an individual and giving him enough credit for what he was able to endure and accomplish prior to his death. For that reason I appreciate Jon Krakauer’s decision to more deeply investigate and write about the story.

    This week I particularly enjoyed reading Chapter Eight, ALASKA, that compares McCandless with Rosellini,Waterman and McCunn and the following chapter about Everett Kuess. If one is willing to take up the traveling-loner lifestyle, it allows a person individual freedom that cannot be experienced in any other way. Once having learned what can be gained from it, living differently would be extremely difficult.

    After continuing reading the book, seeing the news clip and hearing what his sisters had to say, has given me more incite into why Chris may have acted in the ways and made the choices he did. Learning about his father’s first marriage and his mother’s complicity in hiding the truth from him caused Chris extreme and infinite emotional pain. As a result he wanted to come up with something he could do that would cause his parents to have to endure an equivalent amount of pain. It did not matter to him what personal relationships he had to give up. Chris’s solitude and communing with nature was his preferred lifestyle to get away from his parents and would allow him to achieve his goal.

    • Erin K.

      Jane, I’m glad you found a chapter that was so enjoyable to you. You’re right–traveling like that and depending on yourself so much would definitely allow you to experience freedom in a different way. And, I’m sure it would make it really hard to come back to society.

      I agree, too, that the news clips and interviews with Chris’s sister helped me to understand why he would leave his family and not have any contact with them for years. I know his parents made a lot of mistakes, but I do think they still cared for him, so it makes me sad to think of the pain they experienced while Chris was away.

      I hope you like the way the book wraps up! I hope to hear from you next week!

  2. Carrol

    This story has really kept me thinking. I am not a thrill-seeker, so I cannot understand what makes people take such huge risks to do things when they are so ill-prepared. I cannot understand why people want to go to the site where Chris died. I am sure they have their reasons, but I just don’t get it.

    Learning the details about Chris’s family is really disturbing. The ABC news article was really interesting. Obviously, his sister really loved him to open up and share so much about the family. She is certainly holding her parents accountable for Chris leaving.

    Chris really is an interesting character. I liked reading about the people he met along the way and what they felt about him. I still cannot understand why he felt he had to leave and break all ties with family. Maybe if he had opened up to someone, he could have found other ways to deal with his parents.

    I am ready to finish the book. I hope I will get a better understanding of Chris by the time I finish.

    • Erin K.

      I am not a thrill seeker either, so I found it hard to imagine all of the adventures that Chris found so much joy in. I felt stressed just imagining myself in some of his situations! I am definitely more of a person who plans and stays safe, so I can’t really imagine embarking on such a chaotic journey.

      I was glad that Chris was able to make some friendships during his trip. It would have been really sad if he had had no meaningful contact with others after he left his family.

      I hope you enjoy the end of the book! I look forward to hearing from you next week!

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