Into the Wild

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The Yellow Datsun Symbol Analysis

The Yellow Datsun Symbol Icon
McCandless buys a secondhand yellow Datsun in high school with money he earned from selling construction contracts one summer. His attachment to the car is so great that he vehemently refuses his parents’ offer to buy him a new one for his graduation. Even so, Chris abandons his beloved car in the desert, when salvaging it would mean prematurely ending his solo cross-country trip. He forgoes the convenience and safety of his car for the adventure and uncertainty of hitchhiking. Because of these events, the yellow Datsun symbolizes Chris’s pride in his hard work, his scorn for his parent’s materialism, and his rejection of a safe and convenient lifestyle.
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The Yellow Datsun Symbol Timeline in Into the Wild

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Yellow Datsun appears in Into the Wild. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Author’s Note
Risk and Self-Reinvention Theme Icon
Materialism and Idealism Theme Icon
...by changing his name, donating the remainder of his college savings to charity, abandoning his car, giving up his possessions, and burning all the cash in his wallet. (full context)
Chapter 3 – Carthage
Materialism and Idealism Theme Icon
Isolation v. Intimacy Theme Icon
...refuses his parents’ offer to pay for law school and to buy him a new car, preferring instead to spend his summer driving his yellow Datsun on a solo, cross-country journey... (full context)
The American Wilderness Theme Icon
Risk and Self-Reinvention Theme Icon
Arrogance, Innocence, and Ignorance Theme Icon
Isolation v. Intimacy Theme Icon
...for a month to throw his parents off his trail, Chris drives westward in his yellow Datsun on a road trip to reinvent himself and discover the wild. (full context)
Chapter 4 - Detrital Wash
Arrogance, Innocence, and Ignorance Theme Icon
Materialism and Idealism Theme Icon
...near Lake Mead. Some loose change and twenty-five pounds of rice are left in the car with the keys in the ignition. Another ranger starts the Datsun and drives it out... (full context)
Risk and Self-Reinvention Theme Icon
Arrogance, Innocence, and Ignorance Theme Icon
Luck, Chance, and Circumstance Theme Icon
Materialism and Idealism Theme Icon
...and sets up camp. A thunderstorm’s flash flood nearly sweeps Chris away, but leaves the car’s engine wet, preventing him from starting the ignition immediately. Thinking that his car is broken,... (full context)
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 11 - Chesapeake Bay
Materialism and Idealism Theme Icon
...services for a local contractor. So successful at his job, Chris not only buys his car, but the contractor offers to hire him if he will stay in Annandale. Chris turns... (full context)