Krakauer’s purpose is to persuade critics and readers that Chris McCandless was not just another dreamer but rather a quality young man motivated by a complex background to shed society’s materialism.
Krakauer decides to write his book in a non-traditional way. By purposefully placing the storyline out of order Krakauer was able to first present the reader to the media’s impression of McCandless at the time of his death, to then eventually introduce a more personal narrative to entice the reader to form their own opinion of the young adventurer. The author begins the book with a testimonial by a local Alaskan that goes by the name of Jim Gallien, who gave Chris a ride to the Stampede Trail.
Gallien’s testimony accurately depicts the impression that most people get when they learn about Chris McCandless. Gallien mentions his concern for the boy as he was significantly unprepared for the severity of the bush, which made him wonder whether he had picked up another idealist who traveled north in hopes of living out an “ill-considered Jack London fantasy”. Krakauer also adds to the statement by disclosing that, “Alaska has long been a magnet for dreamers and misfits, people who think the unsullied enormity of the Last Frontier will patch all the holes in their lives. The bush is an unforgiving place, however, that cares nothing for hope and longing.” (4)
The reader is presented with a testimony that accurately represents the general impression of McCandless, which is likely similar to their personal opinion of the adventurer. Also, Krakauer’s objective description of the “Last Frontier” allows the reader to initially categorize McCandless as a “dreamer” or a “misfit”. By establishing a widespread opinion of McCandless the author can then easily introduce a persuasive narrative of the events and motivations in Chris’s life that caused him to take on such an extreme journey that would ultimately claim his life.
In literature, diction is used to convey the mood of a text. Throughout the novel, Krakauer uses specific diction which portrays Chris in a positive light. The author puts this technique to use in the third chapter when McCandless commences his journey on the road. To what critics would be an abandonment of opportunities, Krakauer describes Chris’s new lifestyle as being “free to wallow in unfiltered experience”. Then as Chris drove out of Atlanta away from a conventional lifestyle, he decided to change his name to Alexander Supertramp, Krakauer praised this by labeling Alex as the “master of his own destiny.”
The author uses intentional diction in both instances to not only praise and romanticize McCandless’s new choice of lifestyle but to also present Chris positively. By presenting McCandless in a positive light, the author also presents Chris’s ideologies of materialism and society constructively. As Krakauer continues to associate McCandless with buoyant descriptions and affirmations the reader will subconsciously form a positive impression of Chris McCandless.