Into the Wild Life Lessons Essay
In the novel Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, the protagonist Chris McCandless learns two very valuable life lessons that he unfortunately did not get to live to accomplish. Near the end of the novel Chris is dying from starvation. He wrote in one of his journal entries, “Happiness only real when shared” (189). A life lesson Chris learns here is self-explanatory form the quote, to be happy you have to have to share it. To understand the magnitude of Chris’ final realization you have to view it in the context of his life. Chris was not happy with his life so he decided to change it.
In his search for happiness, Chris had left behind everyone he had ever cared about or who had ever cared about him. After spending years living a life of total simplicity and solitude, Chris’ final diary entry seems to show that he had a sudden realization. He wrote “Happiness only real when shared”(189). I think that for many people these final words are haunting because Chris had been trying to soak up life and happiness all on his own, then in the end he seemed to realize it had all been wasted. His happiness hadn’t been real. For Chris this was a massive transformation in thinking, sadly it seems that it came too late.
Another example to prove that Chris learned this life lesson was in his S. O. S note, “S. O. S. I need your help. I am uninjured, near death, and too weak to hike out of here. I am all alone, this is no joke. In the name of God, please remain to save me… ” (198). In life everybody needs people in their lives. We all need our time alone but not all the time. Being with others make us happy, its basic fundamental interaction. His handwritten sign asking for people to help him near the end is proof even Chris needed people. Another life lesson Chris learned during his odyssey in Alaska is, to always follow your dreams.
I know it sounds ironic that a life lesson he learned to follow his dreams ended in his demise but that was just unfortunate on his part. Two big proponents to why most people do NOT follow their dreams are fear and conformity. Because of fear people are afraid to branch out from the conventional lifestyle that society has so greedily placed into our hands. They brainwash people; a life of working at a job, living in routine, not doing what you love, then retiring from your job when you are too hold and too worn out to want to truly live, that’s a wasted life.
Life should be about passion, love, and changing the world, not simply living in fear behind your desk of apathy, hoping to impact the world in some day. You can show that Chris lived up to this because “Two years he walks the earth, no phone, no pool, no pets, no cigarettes. Ultimate freedom. An extremist. An aesthetic voyager whose home is the road” (163). Chris believes he is an “aesthetic voyager” and has traveled a road that has led him on a “spiritual pilgrimage. ” As such, he was a young man in search of himself, for his own identity.
This rite of passage does lead to Chris’s physical death. However, in his last note he writes: “I have had a happy life and thank the Lord… ” (199). I would suggest that Chris was one of those people who had to travel beyond the everyday. His sacrifice for his lifestyle was leaving his family and facing his own death. Yet, he does become self-realized and believes that he has truly been a traveler on a journey of spiritual significance. Furthermore, another life lesson Chris learned from the novel, Into the Wild, was to always be prepared.
It’s important to at least try to be prepared not only physically but mentally as well for all the obstacles life throws at you. You can see that Chris learns this through the quote “It can be interpreted to mean that he was ready perhaps, to shed a little of the armor he wore around his heart” (189). Here Chris, unfortunately too late, finally decides he’s ready to open up, because from earlier on in the book you can see that Chris fears intimacy. In the novel, the people that Chris encounters and builds a small relationship with, he never really becomes intimate with anyone of them.
Another quote that ties in with this new life lesson is “Happiness only real when shared” (189). Psychologically every human needs some kind of interaction with another human being in order to function in society, it’s what makes us secure. So when Chris was there alone on the bus he realized his adventure hadn’t made him happy so he was ready share. It can be said that the reason Chris even took this odyssey was because he was subconsciously running away from his problems. Chris didn’t have the tools to handle what he learned about his father and mother, so he rebelled in a way.
Instead of dealing the right way with the “obstacle life threw at him” he left to get away from them. When the smartest thing would have been to deal with it better, if he would’ve been prepared he probably wouldn’t have felt the need to go live out in the wild in the middle of some desolate place in Alaska. So you see, in the end since Chris was able to “shed a little of the armor he wore around his heart” maybe figuratively means he was finally going to be able to forgive his non-perfect parents and live life with the people he loved.