Krakauer’s opinions, while not entirely blatant, are thinly veiled behind his curtain of words, just visible to those who cautiously observe his use of persuasive language. He offers Chris reluctant praise, accentuating upon his imposing scholastic feats and, while not solicitous nor naive, kind nature. By attracting attention to his seeming selflessness and acute intelligence as was displayed throughout his years at university, he immediately presents Chris with a favorable representation of the man’s statistics and ideals by his academic achievements and chosen majors. It is also notable that the author acknowledges Chris’ quote upon being asked to join Phi Beta Kappa.
McCandless had spurned their advances upon the belief that monikers of such were inconsequential in the long run. Is it not fascinating to realize how much information one can glean from a couple lines’ worth of enlightenment? Krakauer then broaches the topic of Chris’ colossal donation to charity and his stilted relationship with his family. Here, Chris appears in a different light — a little darker, a little colder, a little more alone. Krakauer reproves Chris’ frigid, if not brutal treatment of blood relations and friends alike, even barring any indicated provocation.
While we are first led to appraise McCandless’ altruism, the following statement makes us realize he had never owned the money in the first place. This forces us to ponder and reassess Chris’ stupendously sacrificial stunt, and in turn, discern details of the minute glimpse we are given into McCandless’ mind. Additionally, we can distinctly infer an abnormal parent-child relationship in the McCandless family. As his father had revealed, there was a large gap in understanding between the two parties.
Neither side is truly portrayed as savage or vicious towards the other, merely that they failed to empathize with the other. The McCandless couple supported their son to the best of their capability and wished for his aspirations to become reality – and it had, just not in the way that they had expected. In contrast, Chris was a maverick, a trail-blazer. He felt caged as if his wings were weighed down by metal, leashing him to the steel bars and dirt floor, from where he could only imagine the feeling of gliding amongst the clouds. In just a few paragraphs, we are given a glance at the mentality of both Krakauer and McCandless in the way the story is drawn and laid out, and where we anticipate the story will go.