Ms. Carla Kurt
Into the Wild by John Krakauer Š Discussion
Use this reading guide to help your understanding and approach to Into the Wild. Although you are not required to formally answer the questions, you should read them before you read each section and then check back afterwards to see if you can answer them. These questions, along with your literature responses, will be the basis of small group and full class discussions.
Section I - Chapters 1-3 (3-23)
How would you describe KrakauerÕs tone in this first chapter?
Does he seem sympathetic toward Chris McCandless? What words and phrases
contribute to KrakauerÕs tone?
Why do you think Chris would have lied about his name and age
to Jim Gallien?
3. Why would someone who was raised in a privileged manner want to hitchhike and live in the wilderness out West?
Krakauer constructed this story from some of McCandlessÕs effects--journal entries, photographs, postcards, markings in the margins of books he read--as well as through interviews and research on men whose fates were similar to McCandlessÕs. Do you think these are reliable sources? Why might some sources be more given to interpretation than others? Could Krakauer have used any other sources?
Section II - Chapters 4-7 (25-69)
1. How would you describe Chris McCandless after reading this section?
2. For someone who claimed to be a loner, why did Chris befriend so many people?
3. Do you believe the stories the people in this chapter tell Krakauer are true?
Chris told Wayne Westerberg that he wanted to sit down one day and write a book about his adventures. Pick an event from this section--such as when Chris loses his car in the flood, or is thrown into jail for not having identification-- and retell it the way you think Chris might have written it. How would ChrisÕs version differ from KrakauerÕs version?
Section III - Chapters 8-9 (70-97)
1. How effective is KrakauerÕs exploration of the other adventurers he describes in this section? What simliarities does Chris share with them?
Krakauer is not a
psychologist; do you think he is overstating the effects of a strained
father-son relationship on the actions of these other adventurers? Is it
possible that many men have strained relations with their fathers during their
early adulthoods as they attempt to establish their own manhood and Krakauer
plays on this commonality to make Chris McCandless seem tied to these other
3. Do you think these men are foolish or brave, or can they be both?
Think of a person, fictional or real, who could have been included in this section. Tell a story about the person and explain what characteristics he or she shares with these men and what this personÕs story might suggest about Chris McCandlessÕs motives.
Section IV - Chapters 10-13 (98-132)
How does the McCandless familyÕs description of Chris differ
from the others we have heard?
Do you think
ChrisÕs anger towards his father was deserved? Do you think ChrisÕs
relationship with his father mirrors the relationships the men in the last
section had with their fathers?
3. Having learned that Chris was an entrepreneur and considered law school, do you think he was going through a phase when he died? If he survived do you think he would have made peace with his family and pursued a career?
This section, derived from interviews with family members, presents a much different picture of Chris McCandless than we have seen so far. Make up a story about Chris and tell it from the perspective of one of Ņthe rich kidsÓ at Emory University who would have known Chris when he was a student there.
Section V - Chapters 14-15 (133-156)
Why do you think Krakauer waits until the end of the book to
insert his own experiences?
Do you think Krakauer emphasized certain aspects of the other adventurerÕs
lives (such as their recklessness and difficult relationships with their
fathers) because that is what he thought was most significant in his own
3. Why do you think Jon Krakauer is still alive today, while all these other men have died?
Do you think an author should insert his own experience into his writing? What are some of the advantages of having someone like Jon Krakauer tell this story? What might some disadvantages be?
Section VI - Chapters 16-Epilogue 157 - 203
After concluding the book, what is your impression of Chris
Do you think Krakauer is too easy on McCandless? Why of why not?
3. How do you think McCandless died?
Find newspaper articles, magazine articles, or television news clips that cover Chris McCandlessÕs story. How do they differ from KrakauerÕs book? How are they similar?