Blueberries By McCandless

Christopher McCandless\' last journal entry before dying of starvation in the

Alaska bush was simply the words "Beautiful Blueberries". Over the
previous two years he bought a secondhand canoe on impulse and paddled to

Mexico. Then he lived on the streets of Los Angeles with vagrants, camped in the

Arizona dessert with hippies, tramped through almost every western state,
occasionally holding odd jobs. He also lived completely off the land in the

Alaskan backcountry. McCandless\' epic journey separated him from his parents and
peers, a world of security and material excess, and a world "in which he
felt grievously cut off from the raw throb of existence". It was a journey
that would have been a complete waste if it weren\'t for Jon Krakauer\'s book
entitled Into the Wild. A lot of people believe that McCandless was an idiot. He
was "simply one more dreamy half-caulked greenhorn who went into the
country expecting to find answers to all his problems and instead found only
mosquitoes and a lonely death". Some people blamed Krakauer, in the
magazine article that preceded the book, for glorifying "a foolish,
pointless death". But the beauty of Krakauer\'s writing is that he doesn\'t
glorify Chris McCandless\' life or even try to hide his personal weaknesses.

Instead, that which becomes evident is a vivid portrait of McCandless\' journeys
and an examination of why people are attracted to high-risk activities. Krakauer
begins the book with Chris McCandless hiking into the Alaskan wilderness to his
ensuing death. He does not return to this scene until the next to last chapter,
effectively forcing the reader to see McCandless as more than an unprepared
misfit who deserved to die because of the risks he took. We learn of his
adventures tramping around the continent, discern how McCandless differs from
people whom he had been favorably compared to in the outdoors community, learn
of his family and upbringing, and we are told of a similar adventure in Alaska
which almost claimed the authors life. Only then are we returned to the morbid

Alaskan scene and the controversies surrounding McCandless\' death. Krakauer
succeeds in writing a powerful book because we become attached to McCandless\'
dream and sympathize to a greater degree with his desire to undertake what he
labeled as the ultimate challenge. There are some unconventional aspects of the
book, which turn it into something greater than a story of Chris McCandless.

These are the way in which Krakauer goes about examining Chris McCandless
through his own life, through others who have a similar desire for adventure,
and through an examination of the novels he read. Into the Wild is not a fluff
story about a misdirected youth; it has themes to which anyone who has ever
dreamed of undertaking their own adventure, however large or small, can relate
and gain insight. Overall Krakauer believes Chris McCandless wasn\'t that
different from anyone else who liked adventure. Throughout the book there is an
underlying battle against McCandless\' critics by trying to justify the journey.

Krakauer confesses that after writing a magazine article on McCandless he
remained "haunted by the particulars of the boy\'s starvation and by vague,
unsettling parallels between events in his life and those in my own."

Unwilling to let McCandless go, Krakauer spent more than a year retracing the
convoluted path that led to his death in the Alaska bush, chasing down the
details "with an interest that bordered on obsession" until he
finished writing the book. In this fierce passion, Krakauer is not only telling
of McCandless\' life but his own, and in the process trying to make a world of
critics understand why he, McCandless, and countless others are drawn to a life
of potentially suicidal adventure. This passion draws the reader in, spins them
around and spits them back out into the world with a different perception of
life. This passion makes Into the Wild an amazing book.