Into the Wild


Jon Krakauer

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Into the Wild: Chapter 17 Summary & Analysis

In search of clues at Chris’ bus, Krakauer and two friends zip line across the Teklanika River. Had Chris known about this line a year earlier he might have lived, but he refused to carry a detailed map.
While the river is a roadblock for Chris, Krakauer crosses it with relative ease, ironically pointing to Chris’ ignorance of his surroundings. Had Chris not insisted on total isolation—avoiding even good maps—he could have left when he wanted to.
Arrogance, Innocence, and Ignorance Theme Icon
Krakauer uncovers Chris’ campsite, scattered with moose bones, refuting critics’ claims that McCandless actually shot a caribou, not a moose.
The moose bones not only taint the campsite with death, but also prove that Chris is a competent hunter, contrary to popular belief.
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 reminded of the ill-prepared Arctic expeditions of British explorer, Sir John Franklin, whose arrogance in the face of harsh conditions led to the demise of 140 souls. Krakauer observes, however, that Franklin sought to tame the land with obsolete military techniques and equipment, while McCandless sought to live in harmony with nature by living off the land itself.
Though Chris’ Alaskan journey is similar to Sir John Franklin’s Arctic expedition, the ethos that drives it is very different. Franklin’s approach is that of a conqueror who must tame the land with man’s tools in order to claim it. Chris, on-the-other-hand, by casting aside equipment, attempts to be one with the landscape, suggesting that Chris is more reverent towards nature than previously believed.
The American Wilderness Theme Icon
Arrogance, Innocence, and Ignorance Theme Icon
Making camp near the bus site, Krakauer and his friends talk about McCandless late into the night, but refuse to sleep inside the bus.
Tainted by Chris’ death, the bus is a taboo site that invites curious investigations of Chris but forbids intimate knowledge of him.
Risk and Self-Reinvention Theme Icon
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