Into the Wild

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Alaska Symbol Icon
McCandless shares his dream of going on a “great Alaskan odyssey” to almost everyone he meets on the road. Chris’s starry-eyed regard for the Alaskan wilderness represents the dream of escape, discovery, and adventure.

Alaska Quotes in Into the Wild

The Into the Wild quotes below all refer to the symbol of Alaska. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The American Wilderness Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Anchor Books edition of Into the Wild published in 1997.
Chapter 5 Quotes

[Chris] was so enthralled by [Jack London’s] tales, however, that he seemed to forget they were works of fiction, constructions of the imagination that had more to do with London’s romantic sensibilities than with the actualities of life in the subarctic wilderness.

Related Characters: Jon Krakauer (speaker), Chris McCandless
Related Symbols: Alaska, Chris’s Books
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

Krakauer is describing how Chris helps Jan sell secondhand books by recommending the works of Jack London to the visitors. Jack London set a number of his works in the Klondike area of Canada and Alaska. Here, Krakauer suggests that Chris let himself be carried away by the romantic vision of the wilderness as described in London's literary works.

Although Krakauer is very sympathetic towards Chris, he doesn't shy away from attempting to explain his actions based on his own mistakes. In particular, Krakauer identifies a potentially dangerous strain of Chris's idealism, in that it can blind Chris to seeing reality – in particular, the potentially treacherous realities of life in the wilderness.


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‘I’d thought he’d be fine in the end…he was smart. He’d figured out how to paddle a canoe down to Mexico, how to hope freight trains, how to score a bed at inner-city missions. He figured all of that out on his own, and I felt sure he’d figure out Alaska, too.’

Related Characters: Jan Burres and Bob (speaker), Chris McCandless
Related Symbols: Alaska
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:

When Krakauer interviews Jan Burres, she relates how she tried to give Chris some supplies for his time in Alaska, but he refused everything. Still, here she suggests that even though she was hurt by his refusal to accept help and by his pride in wanting to remain self-sufficient, she didn't think he'd really get into danger. Jan seems to have been impressed by all the wild and potentially dangerous situations into which Chris had wandered before, from Mexico to the American West.

However, Jan implies that she believed it was Chris's own intelligence and planning that had allowed him to successfully navigate his way through such situations. What Krakauer attempts to show, instead, is how much of Chris's safety up until this point was due to mere luck and chance. Still, Jan's belief underlines just how much Chris succeeded in developing his independent persona, one in which he too came to believe.

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Alaska Symbol Timeline in Into the Wild

The timeline below shows where the symbol Alaska appears in Into the Wild. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5 - Bullhead City
Risk and Self-Reinvention Theme Icon
Arrogance, Innocence, and Ignorance Theme Icon
Materialism and Idealism Theme Icon
Isolation v. Intimacy Theme Icon
...but he refuses. She finally persuades him to accept some knives and long underwear for Alaska. Jan later finds the long underwear tucked under the car’s seat. Though angered by Chris’... (full context)
Chapter 6 - Anza-Borrego
Risk and Self-Reinvention Theme Icon
Isolation v. Intimacy Theme Icon
...who share a story from Outside magazine about a hiker who froze to death in Alaska. Ron realizes it is “Alex.” Grief-stricken, he denounces God and takes up drinking (full context)
Chapter 7 – Carthage
The American Wilderness Theme Icon
Risk and Self-Reinvention Theme Icon
Materialism and Idealism Theme Icon
Meanwhile, in Carthage, McCandless takes every opportunity to talk about his Alaskan voyage by seeking out the advice of experienced hunters. Westerberg tries to persuade McCandless to... (full context)
The American Wilderness Theme Icon
Luck, Chance, and Circumstance Theme Icon
Isolation v. Intimacy Theme Icon
...says goodbye to Gail Borah, who senses that she will never see him again. From Alaska McCandless sends postcards to Wayne, Jan Burres and Bob, bidding them a final farewell before... (full context)
Chapter 16 - The Alaska Interior
Isolation v. Intimacy Theme Icon
On April 15, 1992, McCandless leaves Carthage for Alaska, hitching a ride with RV driver Gaylord Stuckey along the way. Reluctant to help “Alex”... (full context)