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Chris McCandless’ Story in the Book Into The Wild

Updated April 30, 2021
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Chris McCandless’ Story in the Book Into The Wild essay

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In this book Into The Wild written by Jon Krakauer it has different types of Sociological aspects in it such as Deviance, The looking glass self, and Ethnocentrism. Jon Krakauer wrote this book about a young man named Christopher McCandless. He hitchhiked to Alaska, left his family, gave away his money, however he was found in an abandoned bus. Jon Krakauer traced Mr. McCandless  footsteps to find out what happened to Christopher.

The book I have decided to read and do the book review on is Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer. I decided to go with this book because I have heard of it before and I have seen part of the movie. This book caught my eye not only for that reason but also because it is about a young man going on a life journey and its kind of a documentary and that is the kind of books that interests me.

The author Jon Krakauer wrote this book because he wanted to follow Chris McCandless’ foot steps to find out what really happened to him and why his journey ended the way it did. The three concepts that I will be reviewing from this book are the looking glass self, deviance, and ethnocentrism. These concepts I will be elaborating on and explain how they pertain to this book.

The first concept I am going to review from this book is the looking glass self. The looking glass self concept was created in 1902 by Charles Horton Cooley. This concept is where a person grows out of the society’s interactions and the perceptions that are made by other people. I have found this concept in the book when Chris McCandless decided to leave his family and go discover Alaska on his own. In the book Chris McCandless says, “ You don’t need human relationships to be happy, God has placed it all around us.” This is just one of the quotes I believe that helps understand Chris’ personality.

This quote pertains to the looking glass self, because he feels having very little human reaction, if any, is a way he can find himself and grow into an independent person. Chris is using the looking glass self concept in a way where he leaves his family he goes off into the wild to live and find out who he truly is and reflects on the people he  has met throughout his journey.

Some people don’t agree with Chris’ method of learning self independence, in an article Tolstoy says, “ He was right to say only certain happiness in life is to live with others” (Tolstoy). That quote from the article shows that some people did not agree with Chris’ tactics of being independent, Tolstoy thinks that everyone should have human reactions with other people to learn to grow.

The next concept I will be applying to Into The Wild is the concept of deviance. Deviance is when a person violates a social norm.  Some people have strong opinions about a person deviating from a norm. I have found deviance in this book because some people have called what Chris has done “stupid” and blame himself for his death. Some people in the book do not agree with him breaking the “norm” therefore, they hold his decisions against him. Some examples of deviance in this book are: Chris left his entire family to go hitchhiking to Alaska and to find his independence, these examples are deviant because most people would not leave their family and their money to go hitchhiking around the world just to find their independence.

To some people that would seem a little extreme to cut all contact off with their loved ones, making Chris’ decisions deviant. In the article, “ Should We Still Care About Chris McCandless?”, it gives us some insight on how people find his decisions negative, for example a New York article says, “ who cares about this anymore, move on” (Outsider). While Craig Medred called him an “ignorant city boy” and said the following quote about him, “ to think of some self-involved urban Americans, people more detached from  nature than any society of humans in history, worshipping the noble, suicidal narcissist, the bum, thief, and poacher Chris McCandless” (Craig Medred).

These are  just a few of the deviance examples I came across which shows how cruel people can be and how they hold his actions of going outside the norms against him. In the article Forests Of The Self it says, “ McCandless’ respective journeys range from admiration for their independent spirits to condemnation for solipsistic stupidity” (Kam, Tanya). This is another example that people have a negative view on how Chris lived his life traveling and leaving his family. Those are just a couple of the negative things people had to say about Chris because he did not allow the “norm”.

The last concept I will be applying to Into The Wild  is the concept of Ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism is the concept that someone believes there culture is better than another culture. In this book I find this concept to be used on a couple different occasions. One of the biggest places I found ethnocentrism being used is when Chris came across a few people that he met that turned out to have a big influence on him as well as himself having a big influence on those people he met.

In the book Jon Krakauer states, “McCandless made an indelible impression on a number of people during the course of his hegira, most of whom spent only a few days in his company, a weeks or two at most. Nobody, however, was affected more powerfully by his or her brief contact with the boy than Ronald Franz” (Into The Wild).  Chris made a big impact on Ronald because he enjoyed the company Ron says that Chris was just like a son to him and Chris had a big influence on his life.

Throughout reading this book I came across those three concepts and how these concepts shaped Chris’ life and his way of thinking. I really enjoyed reading this book  and I learned a lot about Chris McCandless and his way of life. He impacted the many people he came across with his desire for adventure and the social aspects he possessed.

Chris McCandless’ Story in the Book Into The Wild essay

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Chris McCandless’ Story in the Book Into The Wild. (2021, Apr 30). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/chris-mccandless-story-in-the-book-into-the-wild/

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