Into the Wild


Jon Krakauer

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Hunger and Starvation

Hunger and starvation are reoccurring symbols throughout Into the Wild. McCandless becomes a champion against widespread starvation by donating $24,000 to OXFAM, an organization dedicated to fighting hunger. Yet McCandless himself is often plagued… read analysis of Hunger and Starvation


During his travels, Chris primarily lives off of rice, carrying pounds of it in his backpack. Rice thereby represents Chris’ devotion to living a simple, yet dangerous life, always on the edge of hunger and… read analysis of Rice


McCandless has a conflicted relationship with money. He vacillates from rejecting it outright—giving away the remainder of his college fund to OXFAM and burning his remaining cash in the desert—to doing any number of odd… read analysis of Money

Postcards, Notes and Letters

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 postcardsread analysis of Postcards, Notes and Letters


Noticing that Chris McCandless lacks proper footwear to survive in the Alaskan wilderness, Jim Gallien gives the young man his pair of rubber boots, which Chris reluctantly accepts. That McCandless does not think about acquiring… read analysis of Boots

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The Bus

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… read analysis of The Bus

The Yellow Datsun

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… read analysis of The Yellow Datsun


McCandless’s hitchhiking is symbolic of his transient lifestyle and unwillingness to be tied down to any place, any person, or any rules. read analysis of Hitchhiking

The Stampede Trail

The Stampede Trail is a remnant of the Yutan Construction Company’s attempt to build a road in the wild, but construction halted before connecting bridges could be built. As the place where Chris’s journey ends… read analysis of The Stampede Trail

The Slabs and Oh-My-God-Hot-Springs

As locations where hippies and vagabonds coalesce to run away from their fears, responsibilities, and everyday life, the Slabs and Oh-My-God-Hot-Springs are a symbol of “itinerant society” and the transient, alternative culture of nomads and… read analysis of The Slabs and Oh-My-God-Hot-Springs

Devil’s Thumb

A merciless glacier and peak of sheer ice that Krakauer attempts to scale alone as a young man, Devil’s Thumb represents the allure of risky activities and the unrealistic goals that young men set for… read analysis of Devil’s Thumb

The Stikine Ice Cap

A merciless and threatening glacier that Krakauer must cross to climb Devils Thumb, it represents danger and risk. read analysis of The Stikine Ice Cap


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. read analysis of Alaska

The Teklanika River

Because of its fluctuating waters, Chris is able to cross the river easily in early spring, but finds it impossible to ford in late summer. As such, it stands as a symbol of nature’s ever-shifting… read analysis of The Teklanika River

The Moose

In the Alaskan bush, Chris accomplishes an impressive feat—shooting a moose. But butchering the animal’s meat traumatizes him, causing him to question his stay in the wild. As such, the moose represents nature’s powerful… read analysis of The Moose

Chris’ Rifles

McCandless cherishes his rifles very much, but ends up losing one in a Mexican jail and carrying another in the Alaskan bush that is ill suited for taking down big game. In this way, Chris’… read analysis of Chris’ Rifles

Chris’ Backpack

Chris’ mother Billie says that he “was very much of the school that you should own nothing except what you could carry on your back at a dead run.” Chris actively practices this philosophy throughout… read analysis of Chris’ Backpack

Chris’s Canoe

On impulse, McCandless buys a canoe to paddle down the Colorado River into Mexico. He nearly dies in the canoe when he loses an oar during a storm. The canoe stands as a sign of… read analysis of Chris’s Canoe

Chris’s Map

When McCandless ventures into the Alaskan bush, he carries with him a crude and crumbled map that shows an obscure pathway to The Stampede Trail. But it fails to show a cluster of cabins… read analysis of Chris’s Map

Chris’s Books

Throughout his journey, McCandless carries many books with him and reads avidly, highlighting passages from Doctor Zhivago and Henry David Thoreau’s Walden as well as encouraging the people he meets to read Tolstoy’s War andread analysis of Chris’s Books

Chris’s Journal

A fragmented, but honest account of his life on the road, written in the third person, the journal gives insight into McCandless’s state-of-mind and travels. It symbolizes Chris’s beliefs, worldview, and his search for truth. read analysis of Chris’s Journal

Chris’s Camera and Photographs

McCandless ruins his first camera by burying it in the desert, signaling his youthful foolishness. Chris’s second camera is found among his remains with five rolls of film. The pictures developed show a skinny, but… read analysis of Chris’s Camera and Photographs

Chris’s Field Guide to Edible Plants

McCandless intently studies Priscilla Russell Kari’s An Ethnobotany of the Dena’ina Indians of Southcentral Alaska in order to forage for plants and seeds in the Alaskan bush. While a knowledgeable guide, it fails to warn… read analysis of Chris’s Field Guide to Edible Plants

Potato Seeds

Plants with unexpected chemical properties, the potato seeds are sources of mystery, but also unlock the secret behind Chris McCandless’s death. read analysis of Potato Seeds