Into The Wild Summary: A Book by Jon Krakauer

Background information on the book

Jon Krakauer’s non-fiction book “Into the Wild” was first published in 1996. It is based on the true story of Chris McCandless, a young man who set out into the Alaskan wilderness to gain a better understanding of life.

The Journey Starts

Chris’s journey begins when he graduates from college and McCandless decides to burn all of his money, as well as his identification and social security card, before donating his savings to charity. He then embarks on a cross-country journey in search of a deeper connection with nature. He travels from South Dakota to California, from the Gulf of Mexico to the summit of the Rocky Mountains. Along the way, he meets a variety of people, some of whom he befriends and some of whom he alienates.

Then Something Went Wrong

Chris eventually arrives in Alaska at Denali National Park, where he lives alone in an abandoned bus for over 100 days, subsisting on squirrels and wild berries. Content with the isolation, he has a profound sense of self-discovery and connection to nature during this time and believes he has found true happiness. His journey, however, takes a tragic turn when he begins to suffer from starvation and is unable to find food or assistance. Despite his best efforts, he eventually dies of starvation in the wilderness.

Krakauer examines the various events and decisions that led to Chris’s death throughout the book, as well as the themes of nature vs. society, transcendentalism, and individualism and self-discovery. He also delves into Chris’s complex and introspective personality, as well as his interactions with the people he meets along the way. Finally, the book raises concerns about the cost of self-discovery and the significance of balance in the pursuit of one’s own personal journey.

Krakauer Resolves the Themes

The book “Into the Wild” explores the human desire for self-discovery and the ultimate cost of pursuing it through an examination of Chris McCandless’ physical appearance, personality, and relationships with other characters, as well as themes of nature vs. society, transcendentalism, and individualism and self-discovery.

Character Analysis

Christopher McCandless

  1. Chris McCandless’ physical appearance is described as a young man in his early twenties with long hair, a beard, and a lean, athletic build. He is frequently seen dressed in rugged clothing and carrying a backpack.
  2. A summary of Chris’ personality and motivations: Chris is portrayed as a complex and introspective character. He is motivated by a desire to escape modern society’s trappings and discover a deeper sense of meaning and purpose in life. He is self-sufficient and determined, and he is willing to take big risks to achieve his goals.
  3. Chris’s interactions with other characters are examined: Chris’s interactions with the other characters are frequently fraught with tension and conflict. He is distant and aloof, and he finds it difficult to connect with others. Despite this, he is able to connect with a few people, including his sister and a kind old man he meets in the wilderness.

Other Personas

  1. Secondary characters: The book includes a diverse cast of secondary characters, including Chris’s family and friends, as well as the people he meets along the way. They vary in age, background, and motivations, but each plays an important role in the story.
  2. Analysis of their role in the story: The secondary characters serve to contrast Chris’s solitary journey, as well as to demonstrate the many different ways in which people interact with the world. They also contribute to the book’s themes and provide insight into Chris’s character and motivations.
  3. Their interactions with Chris: Chris’s interactions with the secondary characters are complex and multifaceted. He is frequently at odds with them, but he also develops strong bonds with some of them. These relationships help to shape Chris’s journey and, ultimately, the story’s outcome.

Themes for Into the Wild

Society vs. Nature

  1. Chris’s journey into the wilderness: A central theme of the book is Chris’s journey into the wilderness. He abandons the trappings of modern society in order to live off the land, completely isolated from the rest of the world.
  2. Analysis of nature and society themes: The book explores the themes of nature and society and how they interact with each other through Chris’s journey. It depicts the allure of the wild and the freedom it provides, as well as the harsh realities of wilderness living. The book also looks at how society affects individuals and how it can stifle one’s sense of self-discovery.
  3. Investigation of the two’s relationship: Nature and society have a complicated and multifaceted relationship. Chris’ journey eventually reveals that the two are not mutually exclusive, and that striking a balance between them is essential for true self-discovery. The book also implies that the relationship between nature and society is not a zero-sum game, and that a balance can be found.


  1. Transcendentalism is a philosophical and literary movement that emphasizes the individual’s intuitive connection to nature as well as the importance of self-reliance and self-discovery.
  2. The book aligns with the concept of Transcendentalism because it explores how Chris’s journey into the wilderness is an attempt to transcend the limitations of society and find a deeper understanding of himself and the world.
  3. The impact of transcendentalism on Chris’s journey is investigated: Chris’s journey is heavily influenced by transcendentalist ideals. He is drawn to the wilderness to escape society’s constraints, and he has a profound sense of self-discovery and connection to nature.

Self-discovery and individualism

  1. Analysis of the themes of individualism and self-discovery: The book delves into the theme of individualism through Chris’s desire to break free from society’s constraints and forge his own path in life. His journey is one of self-discovery as he tries to figure out who he is and where he fits in the world.
  2. Examine how Chris’s journey reflects the following themes: Chris’ journey reflects themes of individualism and self-discovery as he embarks on a journey of self-discovery, which ultimately costs him his life. His journey eventually reveals the cost of radical individualism taken to its logical conclusion.
  3. Discussion of the reader’s reaction to these themes: The book’s themes of individualism and self-discovery may appeal to readers who want to break free from societal constraints and forge their own path in life. The book also encourages readers to think about the costs of radical individualism and the value of balance in the pursuit of self-discovery.

Literary devices and writing style

  1. Author’s writing style: Jon Krakauer’s writing style is distinguished by clear and straightforward prose, as well as vivid imagery and descriptive language. He also frequently employs a narrative structure that alternates between the past and the present, which contributes to the suspense and mystery surrounding Chris’s story.
  2. Literary devices used in the book: The book employs a variety of literary devices, including symbolism, imagery, and foreshadowing. The imagery of nature and the wilderness, for example, is used to convey the beauty and harshness of the natural world, whereas symbols such as the bus on which Chris died and the name Alexander Supertramp, which he adopted, are used to represent themes of escape and self-discovery.
  3. Discussion of how they contribute to the story’s overall impact: The use of literary devices in the book adds depth and richness to the story, as well as aids in conveying the book’s themes and emotions in a powerful and evocative manner. The use of symbols, imagery, and foreshadowing also adds to the book’s overall impact by creating a sense of mystery and intrigue around Chris’s story.

Conclusion of Book Summary

“Into the Wild” explores the human desire for self-discovery and the ultimate cost of pursuing it through an examination of Chris McCandless’ physical appearance, personality, and relationships with other characters, as well as themes of nature vs. society, transcendentalism, and individualism and self-discovery.

Summary of the analysis’s main points: Chris’s physical appearance, personality, and relationships with other characters are examined in the book to provide insight into his motivations for his journey. The book also delves into the themes of nature vs. society, transcendentalism, individualism and self-discovery, and their connections to Chris’s journey. The author’s writing style and literary devices contribute to the story’s overall impact.

Final thoughts on the book and its influence on readers: “Into the Wild” is a moving and thought-provoking novel about the human desire for self-discovery and the ultimate cost of pursuing it. In the pursuit of self-discovery, the book encourages readers to question their own desires and motivations, as well as consider the balance between nature and society. The evocative writing style and use of literary devices in the book make it a memorable and impactful read.

If You Liked This, You’ll Love These!

Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail”: This memoir follows a woman who embarks on a 1,100-mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail in order to rediscover herself and overcome personal tragedy. It, too, is a powerful and moving story of self-discovery set against the backdrop of nature.

Paulo Coelho’s novel “The Alchemist” tells the story of a shepherd boy who sets out to fulfill his destiny and discover his personal legend. It is a deeply spiritual and philosophical book that, like “Into the Wild,” explores themes of personal growth and self-discovery.

Cormac McCarthy’s novel “The Road”: This post-apocalyptic novel follows a father and son as they struggle to survive in a world devastated by an unspecified disaster. It delves into themes of survival, hope, and the human condition, and it, like “Into the Wild,” is a powerful and thought-provoking read that delves into the darker side of human nature.

Max Blackwood

Max is an entrepreneur, early-stage tech investor, and contributing writer for influential blogs. With a passion for pushing comfort zones and helping individuals discover their power zone and life purpose, Max's start-up adventures have fuelled his desire to make a positive impact. Max loves driving inspiration in the entrepreneurial world, guiding individuals towards purpose, growth, and remarkable achievements.

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