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Into Thin Air by Jon Krakeur

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Literary Analysis: Into Thin Air

In this novel, the reoccurring theme of responsibility is prevalent throughout Krakeur’s ascent up the “third pole” of the world, Mt. Everest. It is responsibility that eventually leads John’s climbing guide to drive himself to death as he struggles to lead his clients up the mountain. This theme shows us that a hiking guide should provide the utmost care and satisfaction to his clients throughout the climb, but should refrain from doing so when the guides own health is in a significant amount of danger. Even other fellow clients and climbers should be able to depend on each other for aid and safety, but never at the risk of their own life. The actions of Andy Harris, Krakauer’s climbing guide, and his bold determination to care for the survival and well-being of his clients, make us question the depths to which a person should go to care for other people before caring for themselves. Harris if first shown to us in a light that suggests he’s a bold and courageous man, even being courageous to the point of recklessness, and this is what eventually causes him his life. Indeed, this is what actually ends up taking place later in Krakauer’s account of the incident where he describes Harris “plodding” off to aid a couple of clients. “…Harris—who must have been severely debilitated, if his condition when I’d seen him on the South Summit two hours earlier was any indication—plodding slowly up the summit ridge to assist Hall and Hansen. It was an
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