When first introduced to the character Alex, or Chris McCandless, I have to admit he really annoyed me. By doing things like, cutting off contact with his parents to intentionally hurt them and getting offended when his parent offered to buy him a new car and put him through law school, he came off as a rich kid who had no appreciation for all that he had. As the story progressed though, and I was taken deeper into his character and life, I began to see the world through Alex’s eyes. The frustration and annoyance that I felt before soon turned into understanding, although there are some things that he did that I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to understand. Ultimately though, Alex was a young man trying to grasp the world around him and find his place in it. I feel that this is something we all go through, Alex just went about it a very different way. This being said, I believe that Jon Krakauer’s intended audience when decided to write and publish Alex’s story, was everyone. I believe everyone, on some level, carries with them an innate curiosity about the world around them. Alex took this curiosity to new and rarely explored places and ideas. By looking at Alex’s adventures across the country and into the wilderness, and examining his logic behind his decisions, we are able to relate to his ideas, if not his actions, and are drawn to Alex’s story in a unique way. Krakauer’s portrayal of Alex as the average, albeit brilliant and talented kid, he is able to pull in people who also have at some point desired to be independent and to learn about and know the world around him. These desires cover a vast majority of people and thus the book reaches it’s intended vast audience.
Now a question that I continued to think back upon while reading Into the Wild, was whether or not Alex McCandless would even have wanted a book written about him. From what the book says and what all the people who knew him say, he seemed to be a very private person. He would rarely tell those whom he met on the road his real name, and he rarely let people know what he was thinking. Alex seemed like a very private person and I’m not sure he’d want his life’s story out for the world to see. On the other hand though, he seemed to encourage others to do as he had done and escape society and go into nature. There was an elderly man that Alex met on his journey, named Ronald A. Franz, and to whom Alex grew quite close. Franz also felt a connection to Alex, and when Alex left, he told Franz to leave his home and everything that tied him down and to go out and live in the wilderness. Surprisingly enough, Franz did this. So I believe on some level Alex would have wanted to encourage other to escape into nature. Even after finishing the book I really don’t have an answer. I think it’s a question that only Alex himself could answer.