Research Paper – Into the Wild
Your prompt choices are below. Choose ONE. Use at least three outside sources for your 5- to 7-
Prompt Choice 1:
Krakauer says in the “Author’s Note” that there were many differing opinions about Chris, and that
his own “convictions should be apparent soon enough.” But that he will “leave it to the reader to
form his or her own opinion of Chris McCandless.” Indeed in chapter 8, in defense of McCandless,
“Although he was rash, untutored in the ways of the backcountry, and incautious to the
point of foolhardiness, he wasn’t incompetent—he wouldn’t have lasted 113 days if he were.
And he wasn’t a nutcase, he wasn’t a sociopath, he wasn’t an outcast. McCandless was
something else—although precisely what is hard to say. A pilgrim, perhaps.”
Do you believe that Krakauer’s view is impartial enough to allow readers to form their own opinions
about Chris McCandless?
Prompt Choice 2:
You will not answer all of the questions listed below, but rather focus your argumentative essay on
one or two:
Is Chris a hero? A dreamer? A nut? What are your reactions to Chris and others like him who are “kind
of different”? What drives them? How do they navigate the world? What is the impact of their actions
on themselves and others?
• Consider such ELEMENTS of his character (and others) as the following: his beliefs; his
actions; his choices; his relationships.
• Your sources might be the following: his letters to family and friends; his journal entries;
Krakauer’s analysis of Chris; testimony of family; McCandless’s similarities to other nonconformists.
• Incorporate at least 1 other non-Into the Wild sources from our classwork reading to
emphasize a point, illustrate a pattern, or suggest an alternative perspective.
• Think about your reactions to the story as you read it. What inspired you about Chris and the
others? Frustrated you? Confused you? Angered you? What could you relate to? And what
was completely alien to your experience?
Prompt Choice 3:
The word “hubris” is Greek for excessive pride. Speaking about his own forays into nature, Krakauer
says, “The fact that I survived my Alaska adventure and McCandless did not survive his was largely a
matter of chance; . . . . Eighteen years after the event I now recognize that I suffered from hubris,
perhaps, and an appalling innocence, certainly; but I wasn’t suicidal.” Compare this idea to your
understanding of McCandless. Do you think it is an accurate way to see McCandless?
Prompt Choice 4:
“I think that Chris McCandless was bright and ignorant at the same time. He had no common sense,
and he had no business going into Alaska with his romantic silliness. He made a lot of
mistakes based on arrogance. I don’t admire him at all for his courage nor his noble ideas.
Really, I think he was just plain crazy.”
Explain Callarman’s argument and discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with his
Prompt Choice 5:
Explain McCandless’s attitude regarding civilization versus nature. Also discuss his feelings about the
government and law, family, and friends. Try to explain McCandless’s worldview and what kind of
person he was.