Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Into the Wild Summary

Into the Wild is a true story about the life and death of Christopher McCandless. McCandless was a young man with seemingly every advantage. Raised by a successful and self-made family in an upscale suburb near Washington, D.C., McCandless graduates with honors from Emory University. By the time he enters the world as an independent young adult, Chris has a college degree, a loving family, a car that he loves, and some $25,000 in his savings account. So, why would this young man break all contact with his parents, give away all his money, abandon his vehicle, and spend the next two years living as a homeless drifter? That is the question author Jon Krakauer sets out to investigate.

Into the Wild  follows the life of Chris McCandless as he travels across the country. The story starts off with the finding of Chris’ body by moose hunters. It then goes into the details of how Chris got into his situation, how he hitchhiked through Alaska and finally ended up in the wilderness. Chris’ life is then depicted through several pages of his teen, college, and adult life, and how he journeys across America and even crosses the border into Mexico. Lastly, Chris McCanless’ life in an Alaskan bus in the wilderness closes the story.The book begins with the discovery of McCandless's body inside an abandoned  ____in Alaska and retraces his travels during the two years after college graduation. McCandless shed his real name early in his journey, adopting the moniker "____________________". He spent time in Carthage, South Dakota laboring for months in a ___________owned by Wayne Westerberg before impulsively hitchhiking for Alaska. Krakauer interprets d Thoreau, and perhaps McCandless's favorite riter,___________. He explores the similarities between McCandless's experiences and motivations and his own as a young man, recounting in detail Krakauer's own attempt to climb Devils Thumbin Alaska. Krakauer also relates the stories of some other young men who vanished into the wilderness, such as Everett Ruess, an artist and wanderer who went missing in the Utah desert during 1934 at age 20. In addition, he describes at some length the grief and puzzlement of McCandless's parents, sister, and friends, particularly an aged man named ___________ who had befriended McCandless in the _____________ Desert and was very fond of him.McCandless survived for approximately 112 days in the Alaskan wilderness, foraging for edible roots and berries, shooting an assortment of game—including a_____—and keeping a journal. Although he planned to hike to the coast, the boggy terrain of summer proved too difficult and he decided instead to camp in a derelict bus. In July, he tried to leave, only to find the route blocked by a melted river (tragically unfortunate as there was a hand powered tram just upstream). On July 30, McCandless wrote a journal entry which reads, EXTREMLY WEAK. FAULT OF________________... Krakauer hypothesized that McCandless had been eating the roots of Hedysarum alpinum, a historically edible plant commonly known as wild potato (also "Eskimo potato"), which are sweet and nourishing in the spring but later become too tough to eat. When this happened, McCandless may have attempted to eat the seeds instead. Krakauer suggests that the seeds contained a poisonous alkaloid, possibly swainsonine (the toxic chemical in locoweed) or something similar. In addition to neurological symptoms such as weakness and loss of coordination, the poison causes starvation by blocking nutrient metabolism in the body. In the film adaptation by Sean Penn in 2007 it shows Chris confusing two different plants, and he chooses the wrong one.According to Krakauer, a well-nourished person might consume the seeds and survive because the body can use its stores of glucose and amino acids to rid itself of the poison. Since McCandless lived on a diet of rice, lean meat, and wild plants and had less than 10% body fat when he died, Krakauer theorized he was likely unable to fend off the toxins. However, when the Eskimo potatoes from the area around the bus were later tested in a laboratory of the University of Alaska Fairbanks by Dr. Thomas Clausen, toxins were not found. Krakauer later modified his hypothesis, suggesting that ______of the variety Rhizoctonia leguminicola may have caused McCandless's death.

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