Free Study Guide for Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer|
LITERATURE NOTES FOR INTO THE WILD BY JON KRAKAUER
In Chapter 6, we learn that after leaving Jan and Bob, Alex met Ron Frantz. Frantz gave him a ride to his camp at Oh-My-God Hotsprings. Frantz, who had lost his wife and only son some forty years earlier in a car accident, felt a connection with Alex. Frantz and Alex developed a relationship and spent a lot of time together. Frantz, who was a leatherworker, instructed Alex in the craft. Frantz also fed Alex. One day Alex announced that he was going to San Diego. Frantz was sad, but insisted on driving him. McCandless went on to Seattle, but returned soon to California. In California, McCandless met up with Frantz again. Alex wanted to go out to South Dakota, where Wayne Westerberg had a job waiting for him-- Frantz drove him part way there, video-taping their journey. Later, Alex wrote Frantz a letter from South Dakota, urging him to become more nomadic. Frantz took his advice, and occupied Alex’s old campsite.
In chapter 7, Krakauer meets with Wayne Westerberg--the man for whom Alex worked in South Dakota. Westerberg says that Alex would do the jobs that no one else wanted because they were too tedious or too dirty. Westerberg notes that Alex, however, was not mechanically inclined or imbued with common sense. While working for Westerberg, Alex became close to Westerberg’s girlfriend, Gail Borah. Though, neither Westerberg nor Borah knew exactly what happened between McCandless and his family.
Borah confirms Jan Burres’s analysis of Alex’s personality: he often kept to himself but could be a lot of fun in a crowd. One night Borah convinced Alex to dance with her in a bar and they had a great time. Through discussions with Borah, Burres, and McCandless’s sister, Carine, Krakauer concludes that McCandless led a chaste life; he claims there is no evidence to suggest that McCandless had sexual relationships with either men or women.
Westerberg got the impression that Alaska would be McCandless’s last
big adventure. McCandless planned to settle down and write a book about
his journeys when he left Alaska. In April, Westerberg asked McCandless
if he would stay in South Dakota for a few more weeks because he was shorthanded.
McCandless would not even consider it; he was set on leaving. On April
27, 1992, McCandless sent postcards to his friends, showing he had arrived
in Fairbanks, Alaska.
These chapters introduce the reader to the “characters” McCandless meets on his journey. The cast is a motley crew of drifters, lost souls, and tough guys with big hearts. Moreover, they are invaluable sources for Krakauer as he attempts to piece together Chris’s last days. The reader should consider the way Krakauer presents these sources. For much of this period, he has nothing left by Chris to construct the story--he has to rely on the testimony of the people he met. Krakauer seems to trust what these people tell him; however, it does not seem to matter how true their stories are. Whether or not Chris spent one night or ten with Jan, or learned how to craft a leather belt from Ron is not the focus of this section. Instead, Krakauer seems interested in characterizing Chris McCandless. Here, the people Chris knew seem to say they same things--he was frequently moody and sullen; yet, he also knew how to have a lot of fun. He was intelligent and passionate. He could not wait to get to Alaska.
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. 15 July 2014