Key Facts

Into the Wild

Jon Krakauer

Date Published


Primarily in the western portion of the United States, as well as in Alaska, Mexico, and Virginia. The events in the book span various years but most important events take place in the 1980s and 1990s.

Plot Structure Analysis

When examining a piece of non-fiction writing, the reader should always be concerned with methodology. An author’s methodology is the way he or she constructs the argument. This includes the sources the author uses as well as the way he or she presents the argument--what evidence the writer includes and the order in which the evidence is presented. The main reason for evaluating methodology is to consider the author’s methodological assumptions and to decide for oneself if the argument is convincing.

In this work, Jon Krakauer primarily uses Chris McCandless’s journal entries, photographs, and letters along with interviews of family, friends, and authorities, secondary research on other explorers, as well as his own personal experience to probe the life and death of Chris McCandless.

Krakauer begins Into the Wild with the last day McCandless was seen alive, followed by the discovery of his body in order to heighten the reader’s suspense and foreshadow coming events. Next, Krakauer begins to recount Chris’s final years and establish his character by presenting interviews with friends Chris met on the road, followed by stories about other adventurers who also met their fates in the wilderness.

At this point, McCandless could been taken for an arrogant, ignorant child. Yet through interviews with Chris’s family and by relaying his own personal experience as a mountain climber, Krakauer complicates Chris’s character. Here we gain a sense of Chris as sensitive and intelligent. We begin to understand his private demons.

Finally Krakauer returns to the scene of Chris’s death and speculates about his demise—painting him in a more favorable light than McCandless has been previously granted.

In presenting the evidence in this manner—riddled with endearing anecdotes, contextualized by other daring youths—Krakauer forces the reader to consider Chris McCandless’s positive attributes and potentially reimagines what has become a tale of reckless folly.

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