Into the Wild

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The Bus Symbol Icon
As the site where McCandless’s body is discovered, the bus alludes to death, but also symbolizes Chris’s good fortune and search for solitude. That he stumbles upon the old Fairbanks City bus in the middle of Alaskan bush is an amazing stroke of luck that not only helps Chris to survive in the wild for 113 days, but also gives him a place to contemplate his life and beliefs, as the philosophical inscriptions he writes on the bus’s walls reiterate.

The Bus Quotes in Into the Wild

The Into the Wild quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Bus. 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 16 Quotes

Two years he walks the earth…an aesthetic voyager whose home is the road….After two rambling years comes the final and greatest adventures. The climactic battle to kill the false being within and victoriously conclude the spiritual revolution….Ten days bring…him to the great white north. No longer poisoned by civilization he flees, and walks alone upon the land to become lost in the wild.

Related Characters: Chris McCandless (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Bus
Page Number: 162
Explanation and Analysis:

As Chris settles into his new life in the wilderness, he scrawls graffiti in several places on the bus where he has made his home. The quote included here is described by Krakauer as the most eloquent, even if it is also among the most rambling and bombastic, example of that graffiti.

As he does elsewhere, here Chris speaks of himself in the third person, as if he is imagining the journey he has taken from a distanced perspective. His language and imagery are almost apocalyptic, a dramatic narrative of escape and salvation in a new, pure land, where Chris is finally free to reinvent himself. Civilization is portrayed as dangerous, even poisonous, as contrasted to the powerful and indeed spiritual healing to be found alone in nature.

Of course, with the benefit of hindsight this language also sounds ominous. While Chris most likely meant his "final" adventure to mean his last, most extreme experiment before finding a middle ground in or near society, this time in Alaska would indeed turn out to be Chris's final adventure. Nature indeed will turn out to be just as mighty and powerful as Chris suggests it to be here, but its power is uncaring, and will be unleashed against him rather than for his benefit.


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The Bus Symbol Timeline in Into the Wild

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Bus appears in Into the Wild. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2 - The Stampede Trail
Luck, Chance, and Circumstance Theme Icon
In September 1992, six people in three separate parties happen upon a refurbished city bus off the Stampede Trail in Denali National Park. Moose hunters, Ken Thompson, Gordon Samel and... (full context)
Chapter 16 - The Alaska Interior
The American Wilderness Theme Icon
Luck, Chance, and Circumstance Theme Icon
On the Stampede Trail, McCandless crosses the unseasonably low Teklanika River waters and discovers the bus, where he makes camp. (full context)
Chapter 17 - The Stampede Trail
Arrogance, Innocence, and Ignorance Theme Icon
In search of clues at Chris’ bus, Krakauer and two friends zip line across the Teklanika River. Had Chris known about this... (full context)
The American Wilderness Theme Icon
Arrogance, Innocence, and Ignorance Theme Icon
Examining McCandless’ possessions in the bus, Krakauer notices that Chris lacked some essential equipment for surviving in the wild. Krakauer is... (full context)
Risk and Self-Reinvention Theme Icon
Making camp near the bus site, Krakauer and his friends talk about McCandless late into the night, but refuse to... (full context)
Chapter 18 - The Stampede Trail
The American Wilderness Theme Icon
Isolation v. Intimacy Theme Icon
Back at the bus, where nature flourishes in the summer heat, McCandless continues with his routine of hunting and... (full context)
Luck, Chance, and Circumstance Theme Icon
Isolation v. Intimacy Theme Icon
...that had Chris carried a map, he would have known that four cabins circled the bus site. Chris could have sought them out for help, though in fact they were unoccupied... (full context)
Risk and Self-Reinvention Theme Icon
...a goodbye in his journal, thanking God for a happy life, before crawling into the bus for his final rest. In one of his last acts, Chris photographs himself. In the... (full context)
The American Wilderness Theme Icon
Risk and Self-Reinvention Theme Icon
At the site, Walt and Billie inspect the bus and assemble a memorial to Chris inside the its door with flowers, a plaque, a... (full context)