The Allure of Adventure and Danger


The Allure of Adventure and Danger

Into the Wild is 1996 a true story by Jon Krakauer of the mysterious death and life of a talented man who was also from a good family called Christopher Johnson McCandless. This young man allegedly turned his back on everything that was important to him. After graduating in 1990from Emory University, the young man did not hesitate to give to charity his money, and then he suddenly disappeared and left his personal identity and past life to disappear from his friends and family.


He thought that his parents would make an attempt to stop him so he had plans to have his mail held for about a month before being returned to them, therefore, allowing him the opportunity to disappear to a place where he would do whatever he wanted without the intervention of his parents. Although he was obedient, it seemed like he held some kind of grudge against them for a while. As it follows, he immediately set out on a journey something that made him give up the comforts his middle-class life gave him to seek a place that was purer to feel and think. As his family looked for him relentlessly, he journeyed across the US living off charity and wits.

This paper will explore one theme in this book and that is the theme of the allure of adventure and danger.

The theme of the allure of high- risk activities and danger is prominent throughout Into the Wilderness. The author does not imagine that this allure to danger and risk is essential to everyone, rather it seems of great importance to a certain young man in the novel; one who is passionate, intense, ambitious and driven, but not satisfied with the challenges and opportunities his current society offers him.

The young man in question is Christopher and the more the reader gets to know him the more convinced they become that these men are extraordinarily driven in such a manner that they seem driven by some kind of dark force. This allure to danger and to such for more things is present whether it is a troubled relationship the character has with his father or in other activities. In addition to McCandless, other men in the novel seem to be driven to such for this adventure or danger including Krakauer himself, and Waterman.

For Krakauer, in the least, the risk and danger associated with his activities brought him some benefits in that it enabled him to reach a place or point of meditation, and because he is usually only one step or mistake from real danger or even death, he is forced to focus completely. It is these actions that ultimately allow him free of or allow him to escape and run away from those issues that would in normal circumstances eat away at him.

The book Into the Wilderness also brings to the reader and shows the readers the thrill usually accompanied by the pure accomplishment that the character experiences when he is able to escape and participated in his journeys into the wilderness. The pure thrill the traveller obtains when he attains accomplishment in areas where he faced only nature and himself as the main obstacles. This thrill and feeling of accomplishment allow the traveller to feel that he truly is aware of all his abilities and what he can accomplish. It also allows him to realize that there is no need for him to be so reliant on others, the society, parents and his friends to survive or accomplish great things.

From this book, it becomes apparent that the wilderness, risk, danger and adventure have a certain allure to McCandless and other individuals of his nature. To this particular character, the wilderness, danger, risk and adventure are seen as a state that is purer than the comfortable society he is used to. He sees this new destination as a place void or without the modern evils of his middle- class society, a place where a person like him can escape to and settle for the purposes of finding out what he really is made of or what he is capable of, his limits.

To him, this is a place where he can live independently without anyone else governing or pointing out how he should live, a place where he can live, follow his own rules and principles, and be free of the common world and society. Though one might think McCandless to be naïve or stupid, his entries in the journal he keeps with him during his travels indicate that he truly does find some answers, some keys or directions of living the way he really wishes to live.

Yet it is also obvious that the reality of living day in day out in the wilderness is not as simple or romantic as McCandless might have imagined in the beginning; this kind of living holds for him certain dangers and risks. He was deeply attracted to live in the wilderness and to live in this risky manner such that he did not stop to think the kind of risks and dangers that might be lurking waiting for him during his journey to discover himself. It is clear that the character spends much of his time trying to find something to satisfy his anger and prevent him from starving to death such that he has little or no time at all to appreciate his new life in the wilderness.

There is a lot of evidence that indicates this to be true. For example, most of his entries in his journal only talk of the kinds of foods that he was able to gather and eat each day. There is much less evidence in the journal entries that he spend any more time doing anything else. It is funny to think that this perhaps is a good explanation as to why many of the writers he thought of as heroes like Jack London who wrote books about the wilderness, never actually spent time in the wilderness living the life McCandless spend.

This theme of the allure of adventure and danger that McCandless finds in the wilderness emphasizes greatly the role of man in the wilderness or in nature. Chris McCandless firmly believes that man can only find true and pure joy in the wilderness, and he thinks that the true calm and identity of a man can only be realized when they are in communion with nature.

The character is shown to be a dedicated reader, and some of his favourite writers are continuously quoted in the book by the author probably for the purposes of supporting his romantic view of nature and of the importance of a man’s communion or unity with nature.  Jack London and Henry David Thoreau are some of the best writers according to McCandless and he loves their work. One thing that one realizes after reading this book is that these two writers greatly influence and further the romanticism the character has with nature, and, as a result, further his love of the allure of danger and adventure nature imposes on him.


However, the danger and risks associated with nature cannot be avoided as the book clearly points them out. Nature is shown to be a fickle beast that can turn from being an ally who is extremely friendly to a cruel enemy at any moment. The character is, however, not blind to this fact. The experiences he derives from his journey and the literary works he likes so much to read clearly indicate to us and teach him that the laws of nature do not change for better for any man. Natural effect and cause are shown to have the ability to work against any man easily, as well as, to have the ability to work to their favour.

The author of Into the Wilderness emphasizes the dangers associated with wilderness numerous times. For example, he writes of the time when McCandless tried to live one of his camps in July, however, he was unable to as he found that melted ice had blocked his way. He wrote in his journal that he suffered from lack of food and starvation and he says, ‘extremely weak, fault of the pot. Seed…. (Krakauer 191). This was an indication that living in the wild had its dangers and was extremely difficult.


Work cited

Krakauer, Jon. Into The Wild. New York: Anchor Books, 1996. Print

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