Chris McCandless was certainly no saint, his morals for most things were entirely misplaced, his thoughts delusional and actions irrational. Morals, delusion and being irrational are traits found in many people in perfectly appropriate levels, but McCandless’s level of each of those thing and the way he acted on them were certainly his downfall. I’ve read a few anti-McCandless articles that describe this further, and an incredibly interesting opinion I found is this:
How ironic it is that so many self-involved, urban Americans, people more detached from nature than any humans in history, are so intent on worshiping a suicidal wilderness narcissist, a bum, a thief and a poacher.
Undeniably, Chris McCandless was all of these things, he thought little of any one else, prioritized only himself in all social situations, left many people high and dry, didn’t think any sort of rule applied to him, and yes, he stole,and he poached and killed countless animals when out in the bush, despite confessing his ambivalence to killing.
Previously in this blog I have focused on what Krakauer intended the reader to think, that Chris was some sort of role model, perfect in his thoughts, noble in his efforts, and should be idolized for his, ultimate, ignorance, disregard and carelessness. But he isn’t. McCandless sneered at a lot of us, being so self absorbed that he thought that his thoughts and his thoughts only were correct and the rest of us were fools blinded by conformity. Conformity might well be boring at times, it might be dull, but if it was so bad why do most people do it? If marrying and having children wasn’t a good thing to do then why do we all do it? We can’t all go off and do what we want, people have responsibility, some more than others but we still have some, we are all someones child, someone’s cousin, niece, nephew, sister, brother, auntie, uncle, and we are all looked up to. And these people will still love us, no matter what we do. Which is why McCandless’s parents left this plaque in the Fairbanks 142 ‘Magic Bus':
The irony that surrounds his death funnily mirrors much of McCandless’s life, unbeknown to him, just 6 miles away from the Fairbanks 142 were a couple of cabins. And not that much further was the city and civilsation. He spent his life trying to run away from all these people, and he successfully did! But it was his refusal to create emotional bonds which ended up contributing to his death. So it might be said that he was happy to die, because he got what he wanted, or that he was sad, because he never got to see any more.
In the end, much like curiosity killed the cat, blatant ignorance killed Chris McCandless. But I think we can excuse the cat, because it knew no better, the cat died because it’s simple thinking didn’t allow it to think of alternatives, but McCandless was so intent on overthinking that he ended up romanticizing things that God never made to be romanticized. Being cold, desperate, alone and dying cannot be glorified. Making one mistake and paying the price of your death cannot be made to sound any better than it is.