The Beauty of the McCandless Nature Isolation

Transcendentalists emphasized the idea of nature as a higher power in society and critiqued civilization as disrupting this inherently beautiful bond between man and nature. Two of the most commonly known transcendentalists for their achievements in both literature and upholding these ideals of transcendentalism are Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. While their impact on society left a lasting affect in a new age of progression and development, Chris McCandless allowed the values that Thoreau and Emerson emulated through their writings, to model his life.

In Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, McCandless shapes his life according to the natural environment as he disregards the ideals of materialism, condemns the systematic controlling of the government, and emphasizes the beauty of isolation in nature.

Chris McCandless follows Thoreau’s belief that materialistic things are amateurish and such forms of opulence restrict society of progressing. In Thoreau’s Walden, he denounces his former lifestyle originally lead by the desire of money attributed to materialistic items and essentially proclaims that individuals who conform to these economic standards lead lives of “desperation”(Thoreau, Walden).

By straying from the “common mode of living” and declaring that “it is never too late to give up our prejudices,” Thoreau begins to live his life to the fullest in the hopes to create a lasting bond with nature and therefore enjoy the blissful moments in life. With this, McCandless can only initiate his transcendentalist life by first ridding himself of all capitalistic ties, including his beloved car, a “gesture that would have done both Thoreau and Tolstoy proud”(Krakauer, 29).

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Following Thoreau’s advice of leaving material items in the past, McCandless even “announced to his parents that, on principle, he would no longer give or receive gifts”(Krakauer, 20). McCandless’s lack and complete disregard of money and commodities, similar to Thoreau, reveals his merits of transcendentalism.

McCandless also distrusts the government, essentially finding it to be intrusive. In Civil Disobedience, Thoreau’s utopian government is one in which that “governs the least”(Thoreau, Civil Disobedience). McCandless takes this ideal seriously, and expresses his similar view of the government passionately. When asked by Jim Gallien if he owned a hunting license, he declares that “how” he “feeds” himself “is none of the government’s stupid business. Fuck their stupid rules”(Krakauer, 6). McCandless feels that the government should not be able to impose on an individual’s life nor should it be able to control how one behaves. He believes that the mere concept of government causes one to be “poisoned”, essentially articulating the importance of individuality and lack of authority. Thoreau and McCandless have similar distrust with authoritative figures, one of the primary reasons for McCandless’s living in isolation, away from the manipulation and control of the government.

When McCandless intended to live in complete isolation, he never feared nor revealed any signs of reluctance in the absence of civilization, accepting nature to the fullest. Mirroring Emerson’s belief that even though nobody may physically be with him he “is not solitary,” he therefore welcomed the presence of nature itself (Emerson, Nature). Both Emerson and McCandless personified nature as more of a friend, and realized it played a major part in their transcendentalist lives. Thoreau even expresses his opinion of solitude in nature in his reputable Walden, stating that he has his “own sun and moon and stars, and a little world all to himself”(Thoreau, Walden). He believes that the company of nature allows for one to never be alone, providing him with a different but sufficient community of natural companions McCandless shows this conception of companionment in his decision to live in complete isolation for almost 2 years, living off the Alaskan terrain. The corresponding ideals of solitude in both Emerson’s and Thoreau’s established writings, significantly influenced McCandless and his view of nature.

The transcendentalist ideals of disregarding the need for materialistic items, governing oneself, and living in a world that is essentially dominated by your own individualistic beliefs, is emulated through Chris McCandless’s journey and nomadic lifestyle. By making a decision to be anti-materialistic, McCandless escapes from limitations placed on him by social norms in a consumerist society, which allows him to further interest himself into his zealotry of transcendentalism. It is this mindset of a zealot and his obsession with transcendentalism that leads him to his martyrsh death. Without his death so young, he seldom would have been famous nor would he have had the chance to have such an impact on a movement in the climax and end of his life. A zealot, committed to his movement, committed to his fellowship, like a Knight in Arthurian legend.

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The Beauty of the McCandless Nature Isolation. (2022, Feb 23). Retrieved from

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