Christopher McCandless' Misunderstanding of Transcendentalism

773 WordsJun 18, 20184 Pages
Is a person that leaves everything behind to find individualism in the wilderness a genius or another insane person? Christopher McCandless is the main character in the novel Into The Wild. He is an idealist, extremist, and a bright person when it comes to academics. He read books by Henry David Thoreau, Tolstoy, Jack London, and even Ralph Waldo Emerson. This is significant because each author have stories about transcendentalism or even about how society wants people to conform. Thoreau, founder of transcendentalism, wrote the book called “Walden” that talks about Henry David Thoreau building a cabin from nature and living there away from society in solitude. Emerson wrote “Self Reliance” that talks about not conforming to…show more content…
McCandless once again misunderstood what Thoreau said in “Walden” about leaving society. As stated in Into The Wild, “Near the end of his trip, it turned out, Chris had gotten lost in the Mojave Desert and had nearly succumbed to dehydration” (Krakauer 118). Chris had been too stubborn to believe he could not achieve something since he had proven to be good at everything he tried. Chris’ hubris would have to be his arrogance in believing he could do anything he wanted to. By McCandless going into the Mojave Desert was absurd because it was too far from society. Being too far from society can have consequences especially if you need help. Chris’ mind was too clouded to see or think that throughout his entire life. Chris McCandless misinterpreted Thoreau’s writing and he was crazy to shun society, which also help build on the idea that McCandless misunderstood “Self Reliance” and he made actions that ended up being hypocritical later on in his life. Chris McCandless misunderstood Emerson’s words in “Self Reliance”. Chris may have been bright when it comes to academics, but when it comes to analyzing and understanding a writer’s words…he is as dark as the night. Emerson states “but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude” (Emerson 2). Solitude has a positive connotation about being alone like finding one’s true self. Isolation has the negative connotation that means forced being

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