Into the Wild

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Postcards, Notes and Letters Symbol Analysis

Postcards, Notes and Letters Symbol Icon
While McCandless cuts ties with his family, he writes often to the people he has befriended on the road, such as Jan Burres, Wayne Westerberg, and Ronald Franz. These notes and postcards, as do Chris’s letters to his sister Carine offer a glimpse into his thoughts, feelings, and travels. In this way, these correspondences represent Chris’s attempt to reach out and connect with others—his need for fellowship, friendship, and companionship. Yet these written artifacts are also harbingers of death. McCandless’s S.O.S. letter asking for help reveals his near-death state, while his final postcard to Wayne Westerberg is eerily prophetic, foretelling Chris’s “fatal” demise on The Stampede Trail.

Postcards, Notes and Letters Quotes in Into the Wild

The Into the Wild quotes below all refer to the symbol of Postcards, Notes and Letters. 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 1 Quotes

This is the last you shall hear from me Wayne…If this adventure proves fatal and you don’t ever hear from me again I want you to know you’re a great man. I now walk into the wild.

Related Characters: Chris McCandless (speaker), Wayne Westerberg
Related Symbols: Postcards, Notes and Letters
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

Knowing from the start that Chris McCandless's journey will, in fact, "prove fatal," this postcard strikes an eerie, even prophetic note. We don't yet know who exactly Wayne is, or what his relationship to Chris was like, but the postcard does suggest a powerful bond, given that Chris's last communication with another human being was with Wayne Westerberg.

Chris's words suggest that he is giving himself up to his circumstances, putting his faith in the forces of nature outside his control. As Krakauer has intimated int the author's note, this move could be considered as either arrogant or appealingly innocent, depending on one's point of view. But in either case, Chris's decision to "walk into the wild" is indicative of his entire world view, put into his own simple words – perhaps the reason why Krakauer took the title for his book from this postcard.

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Postcards, Notes and Letters Symbol Timeline in Into the Wild

The timeline below shows where the symbol Postcards, Notes and Letters appears in Into the Wild. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1 - The Alaska Interior
Risk and Self-Reinvention Theme Icon
Luck, Chance, and Circumstance Theme Icon
Isolation v. Intimacy Theme Icon
Krakauer opens the chapter with a postcard, dated April 27th, 1992, that McCandless, (going by the name Alex), wrote in Fairbanks, Alaska... (full context)
Chapter 2 - The Stampede Trail
Luck, Chance, and Circumstance Theme Icon
...looking Anchorage couple. Horrified by a rotting smell emanating from the bus and a disturbing SOS note from Chris McCandless attached to its door, they refuse to enter, but Samel ventures in,... (full context)
Risk and Self-Reinvention Theme Icon
Though Chris signed the SOS note with his full name and took many self-portraits with the camera discovered, no identification is... (full context)
Chapter 3 – Carthage
The American Wilderness Theme Icon
Risk and Self-Reinvention Theme Icon
Arrogance, Innocence, and Ignorance Theme Icon
Isolation v. Intimacy Theme Icon
...Atlanta, where they find his apartment available for rent. Back home they find all their letters to Chris returned in a bundle. Having instructed the post-office to hold his mail for... (full context)
Chapter 4 - Detrital Wash
Isolation v. Intimacy Theme Icon
...of tramping and hitchhiking. They camp for a week together. After leaving, Chris sends them postcards every few months. (full context)
Chapter 6 - Anza-Borrego
Isolation v. Intimacy Theme Icon
On January 4, 1993, Krakauer receives a letter from eighty-one year-old Ronald Franz, requesting a copy of the article Krakauer published in Outside... (full context)
Risk and Self-Reinvention Theme Icon
Arrogance, Innocence, and Ignorance Theme Icon
Restless, McCandless rides the rails up north to Seattle, where he sends postcards to Jan and Ron, gleefully bragging about his near violent run-in with a railway security... (full context)
Materialism and Idealism Theme Icon
In April, Ron receives a long letter from Chris, exhorting him to turn to the road to find life’s great joys and... (full context)
Chapter 7 – Carthage
The American Wilderness Theme Icon
Luck, Chance, and Circumstance Theme Icon
Isolation v. Intimacy Theme Icon
...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 walking “into the... (full context)
Chapter 8 – Alaska
Risk and Self-Reinvention Theme Icon
...receives mounds of mail criticizing his portrayal of McCandless in Outside magazine. In one long letter, Nick Jans’ rails against Chris’ ill preparedness, ignorance of the land, and aesthetic values, comparing... (full context)