Chris McCandless’ literary heroes shared various similarities and differences. Henry David Thoreau, Jack London, and Leo Tolstoy are a few examples of writers that influenced Chris. Although, I believe Jack London inspired Chris McCandless the most because Chris’ actions were heavily inspired by London. Chris’ moral principles were impacted, as well as his desires to embark on his journey–which inspired Krakauer to write Into The Wild.
First, Jack London was from San Francisco. He initially began working at various hard labor jobs, but ended up as a writer to escape working in a factory. At a young age, he became eager to read and in high school he joined the school newspaper. He was one of the first writers to make a career out of literature, and became very well known. Many of his writings include naturalism. Naturalism implies a philosophical position; characters can be studied through their relationships to their surroundings.
In literature, it signifies the attempt to apply scientific principles of objectivity and detachment to its study of humans, and the characters are forged by their environment. Jack was a famous figure in adulthood, and used fame to endorse political movements; women’s suffrage, prohibition, and socialism. His socialist views are featured in his writing, but many also considered him a living symbol of individualism. Jack London’s socialism could have contributed to Chris McCandless’ attitude towards materialism and money–which was not important to him.
While London and McCandless have different backgrounds, their personalities are similar. They did both struggle and were hurt from their past, specifically regarding their fathers. London was never accepted by his father, and McCandless’ father cheated on his mother–which was hard for him, especially during childhood. London’s stories influenced Chris to begin similar journeys. He did so many things that were unreasonable, and extraordinary, but believed in himself from some of London’s writings that talk about hard times.
I believe Chris took London’s drive and eagerness, and put it towards his expeditions–which is how he ended up dying. Some of London’s most famous books were found with Chris’ remains. This shows how much Chris McCandless was influenced by Jack London, and how much his writings impacted Chris’ life. Furthermore, London wrote the novel The Call of the Wild, which was fiction, but it was thought to be Chris McCandless’ biggest influence. He disregarded the fact that he needed supplies on his last voyage, especially because Alaska’s food sources are scarce.
He thought he would be able to hunt and fish for food himself, which was not the case and he died from starvation. Chris’ philosophy was also inspired–he believed the environment shaped the person, so he went to find an environment that would reshape him. He took the book extremely literally, as a sign to live in the wild to discover your true self. This is an example of how Jack London aided in Chris’ adventurous personality and free spirit; he wanted to live wildly.
Conclusively, although Chris McCandless had multiple literary heroes, Jack London had a huge impact. Chris appreciated Jack’s work, as well as incorporated it into his own philosophy of life.