how the story means

In this book, we have encountered many different narrators who tell Christopher McCandless’ story.  These narrators have included rubber tramps, family members, and employers—voices from society’s up-starts to its down ‘n outs have been our guide in piecing together what, in my ways, still remains a mystery.  We’ve seen Chris’ story interpreted through the eyes of the author (who made no claims at being an objective narrator), just as we’ve seen the story from Chris’ own narrative (letters, underlining in books, postcards, and the final SOS note).  And through these various voices, we have been asked, as readers, to construct an identity of our main character, including the reasons for why he chose to walk into the wild and never return.

While many of you have various opinions about Chris (and the author), perhaps a more important question to ask yourself at the end of this book is not WHY you have constructed an opinion about Chris’ identity but HOW.  This will be one of your greatest tasks in 1102, and will further promote your skills as critical thinkers about both literary and cultural texts.

So the central question for today’s post:  HOW does the multi-narrative style of this book contribute to the way you understand our main character and his story?

The following questions should help you formulate some of your opinions.  You must address each question, and your post should be at least 350 words.

1.  How does the multi-narrative affect how you read Chris’ story?

2.  Are some narrators more reliable than others?  If so, explain who and why.  What does an unreliable or reliable narrative do to how you understand the story?

3.  How do the authors of the epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter serve as narrators in this book?  Which epigraph do you find most important in the way that you understand our main character?

4.  The poet Philip Brady has argued that one of the main differences between poetry and prose is that in prose, the reader becomes part of the narrative where poetry often leaves you with a sense of silence at the end of the poem.  If this is true, and if as readers we have become part of this story’s narrative, how have we also become narrators?  Because this is a story told from many fragmented viewpoints, how have you become a narrator of Chris McCandless’ story?  And are you a reliable narrator?

jon and chris

In Ch. 14 and Ch. 15 we finally start to understand why Jon Krakauer so closely relates to Chris McCandless.  In preparation for your final exam, please treat today’s post like a short in-class essay.  I want you to find three ways to either compare or contrast Krakauer to McCandless.  Please remember to use specific details (with page numbers) to support your points.

This post should be between 300 and 500 words and should include a short introduction. Remember to make sure your formatting is correct BEFORE you submit your post.

Captain Nemo

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Photograph of Everett Reuss 

Of the other explores/adventurers/escapists/kids/etc. that we read about for class today, who struck you as having the most interesting, compelling, or even admirable story?  What details about this person’s story make you feel this way?  Also, in what way can you relate this person or his adventures/dreams to Christopher McCandless?  In what ways are are they different?  You may need to look up additional information about the person you chose to write about, but this should be very easily accomplished through a quick Google search.

survival

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–Jack London 

For your post today, I want you to try to answer one or more of these questions.

1.  One of the questions that keeps arising in the reading and discussion of Into the Wild is why McCandless keeps refusing aid (money, clothes, etc.)  I want you to speculate why he may have done this.  What were his ideals?  What were his ideas about society?

2.  If you were going to go on the same odyssey to Alaska, what would be the things that you would take with you to assure your survival?  You may want to check out this link for various survival supplies.  Please chose five items that you would take with you and explain why.

3.  In Ch. 5, Krakauer writes, “McCandless conveniently overlooked the fact that London himself had spent just a single winter in the North and that he’d died by his own hand on his California estate at the age of forty, a fatuous drunk, obese and pathetic, maintaining a sedentary existence that bore scant resemblance to the ideals he espoused in print” (44).  Why is this information important to the reader?  How does it inform the way we see Chris McCandless?

Into the Wild or Into the Post-Spring Break Mourning Period

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Option 1: For class today we have read and now discussed the author’s note and first three chapters of Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. Please write about your initial reactions to the story of Christopher McCandless. Can you relate to his story? Obviously, most of us here haven’t abandoned society for a great American and perhaps personal odyssey, but there may be points to his adventure that struck a chord with you. If so, please discuss this.

Option 2: Some of you may have had mini-odysseys over the past week during Spring Break. If so, please discuss using the best and most entertaining narrative skills you possess! (Nota Bene: Please remember that this site is public, so don’t write about anything that may incriminate you!)

Your responses should be between 200 and 400 words. And remember, these posts are now out of a possible 10 points. Therefore, do your best to revise and edit them before you post to the blog.

This American Life

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For this week’s post, I’d like you to come up with a short response (100-300 words) to the episode, “Reality Check,” of This American Life, which we watched in class today.

The story, told in two acts, should encourage some thoughts regarding the complications people face when their dreams are met by reality. Please make sure that your response is specific to one of the two acts and addresses this particular issue of reality check.