Into The Wild, traditionally a book written by Jon Krakauer, was produced into a movie based on a true story and directed by Sean Penn. Fresh out of college, pressured to move on to law school by his parents, protagonist Christopher McCandless, later re-names himself Alexander Supertramp and ventures out on his own with few supplies having burned his money and social security card. A true existentialist, he leaves behind all superficial constructs of society in an effort to move into the wild of Alaska where he sees nature as the only thing stripped of lies and fallacies. He shows great interests in following the paths/ideologies of his literary heroes, Thoreau, London, and Tolstoy.
Once Chris makes it to Alaska the conditions are tough and the food is scarce in the winter. In a mistake of eating poisonous seeds, Chris McCandless dies.The importance of Chris’ age is substantial in understanding the theories behind his decisions and what makes his story so relatable to young adults. He was a high achieving student graduating from a well-established college, born into a middle-class family, but still was not happy and clearly suffered from internal conflict. Although viewers do not see Chris’ childhood or adolescence on the screen there is still a lot to infer and pick up on. In one theory, his parents could be seen as the reason he wants to escape from convention.
From an objective viewpoint, Chris has a low social desirability despite being down to earth and seemingly genuine. This viewpoint is shared with his parents and shown through disappointment and confusion directed by facial expressions and tone of voice. For example, when his parents gifted him with a new car for graduation he replies, Why would I want a new car. Are you worried what the neighbors might think? These things, things, things. I just don’t want anything. Most kids would be thankful, but not Chris, he was fed up with the superficial society he was living in.
His parents were always concerned with money and financial stability rather than the more simple things he was interested in like happiness and simplicity. However, the stage of life his parents are in compared with his own can support their different ideologies but I don’t think either party acknowledged the others. In Erikson’s Theory of Development, assuming Chris’ parents are between the ages of forty-five and sixty-five their psychosocial crisis would be generativity versus stagnation.
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