We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Theme, Setting and Symbolism in “Into The Wild” by Jon Krakauer Paper

Words: 152, Paragraphs: 18, Pages: 1

Paper type: Essay , Subject: Book Review

Jon Krakauer’s novel, Into The Wild, is told in present tense taking novel enthusiasts into the wild in the 1990s. The main setting takes place in western Alaska. The main character spends most of his time staying in an abandoned bus located on the stampede trail in the backwoods of Alaska. The reader follows the main character to a variety of other remote locations.

Character Description- Chris McCandless ( Alexander Supertramp)

The main character, Chris McCandless, later renamed Alexander Supertramp can be described as young, educated, and a friendly man.

Alex was identified as a hitchhiker by Jim Gallien and further described as being about five foot seven with a wiry build and long brown hair. Jim also explains that when he met Alex he was wearing a large pack weighing approximately thirty pounds, with a Remington semi-automatic 22 caliber rifle sticking out. He describes his age as no more than nineteen years old.

As Jim starts talking to Alexander, the reader is informed that Alex was from South Dakota and he was twenty-four years of age. Alex explains to Jim his hopes of living off the land for several months. Despite having little to no information about Alex’s past initially, as the book progresses, he reveals more and more. Alex was a college student in Atlanta before he left his home shortly after his graduation due to family complications. We quickly learn that Alex did not have the best relationship with his parents, but despite that, his parents give him twenty-five

Don't use plagiarized sources. Get Your Custom Essay on Theme, Setting and Symbolism in “Into The Wild” by Jon Krakauer
Just from $13,9/Page

Get Essay

This money is later donated to charity. His life as Alexander Supertramp begins when he abandons his car, rids of all possessions, and invents a new life for himself.

Trigger Event

The trigger event in the novel, Into the Wild, is Chris’ relationship with his parents. Chris did not have a good relationship prior to going into the wild. His parents had money and supported Chris financially with whatever he needed with ease. However, when it came to his relationship with his parents, Chris did not have it good. It started when Chris discovers his father’s big secret. Chris discovers that his father was having an affair with his ex-wife and was living a double life with two families. Ultimately, by learning about this, Chris’ relationship with his parents deteriorated. Due to this relationship failure, Chris has driven away on his journey making his failed relationship with his parents the trigger event to start the plot in this novel.


Person Vs Nature

Throughout the novel, an ongoing major conflict that the protagonist deals with is a person versus nature. More specifically, the struggle Chris entails while trying to survive in remote Alaska. There are two major events that relate to this conflict, Chris’ struggle to get food in the Alaskan wilderness and the inability to leave Alaska. Chris’s struggle to find food in the wild eventually plays a part in his death. When Alex decides that he would like to leave Alaska, he is unable to due to the high water conditions on the Teklanika River. Overall, the person versus nature conflict is the most prominent conflict in the novel, and these two events prove this to the reader.

Person Vs Self

Throughout the novel, an ongoing major conflict that the protagonist deals with is a person versus self-conflict. In the novel, the main character Chris is fortunate to meet many different people who are willing to help Chris along the way. However, Chris decides not to take the available help that is offered to him proving to be over self-reliant. Ultimately, Chris has an issue with taking help from others and because of it, he has a person versus self-conflict. In addition, if Chris was able to allow others to provide him help, possibly he might have been able to get help to leave the wild when he was unable to leave due to spring flooding.

Rising Action

One major rising action in “Into The Wild” is when Alexander Supertramp decides to leave his family and go out into the wilderness. Pushed away by his parents, Chris decides to set off into the wilderness leaving his old life behind. He even gives himself a new name, abandons his car, and gives his life savings of twenty-five thousand dollars away to charity. Chris meets many new people and builds many great relationships along the way. Chris finally finds a canoe, purchases it and uses it to travel all the way to Mexico. However, Chris nearly has a near-death experience forcing him to get to shore to safety. Luckily he is able to do this. He then decides to leave his canoe behind and decides to hitchhike to Los Angelas. He then leaves Los Angelas, deciding it is time to embark on his initial journey of heading into the wild. He hitchhikes by foot to Alaska and gets dropped off by Jim Gallien at the entrance of the stampede trail where he has wanted to go from the start. He would later find the abandoned bus 142. This is significant to the plot as these series and human interactions contribute to the plot leading to the climax.

Rising Action #2

On July 10, 1992, a major rising action occurs when Alexander goes off the beaten track getting his yellow Datsun stuck resulting him to leave his car behind and start his expedition by hitchhiking on foot. Krakauer explains to the reader that the car is stuck in the mud and there is a note on the windshield that reads, “This piece of shit has been abandoned. Whoever can get it out of here can have it” (Krakauer 27). This note proves Chris’ struggle when his car gets stuck forcing him to hitchhike and embark on his journey on foot. This leads up to a series of events such as meeting people along the way such as Jim Gallien and leads up to the climax.

Rising Action #3

Another major rising action in the novel is Christopher McCandless decision to leave the wilderness. When Chris decides that it is time to leave the wild, he experiences a hardship to cross the river. It is due to spring flooding causing Alexander to stay in the wild. “On July 5, however, the Teklanika river was at full flood, swollen with rain and snowmelt from glaciers high in Alaskan range, running cold and fast” (Krakauer 170). “The powerful current would quickly knock him off his feet would carry him away. McCandless was a weak swimmer and confessed to several people he was afraid of water” (Krakauer 170). Ultimately this forces Chris to remain in the wilderness trapped with no food leading up to the climax, his near death experience.

Rising Action #4

Symbolism is a prominent lead up to the climax in the novel. The first evident symbol is Chris’ yellow Datsun. Most Americans value materialistic things especially their car, however, Chris when offered by his parents to buy him a new car, Chris says “why the hell would I want a new car? It runs great” (Krakauer 23). Ultimately, this evidently shows that Chris is not all about materialistic things especially when he abandons it when he gets it stuck in the mud. Another major symbol in the novel is the bus. The bus symbolizes freedom and good fortune that he was able to find the bus and live out of it for 113 days. Further, Chris is able to contemplate his life on the bus. Another major symbol in the novel is his books. Chris relates to these books and to implements them into his life by leaving them out embodying his quest for wisdom. All of these symbols contribute to the plot by leading up to the climax.


The climax of the novel is when Chris McCandless decides that he wishes to leave the Alaskan wilderness, and experiences a near death event. In order to leave, Chris has to cross the Teklanika River, however, he is unable to due to summer high water, and fast water conditions. Despite this, he decides to attempt to cross it anyway. The fast, high water sweeps him away and is able to just grab onto a nearby tree to pull himself up to safety. Overall, this is the climax of the story. Leading up before this event is his decision to leave, and his constant battle of surviving in the wilderness. More importantly, he is faced with the challenge of trying to find food.

Falling Action

The falling action in the novel is the death of the protagonist, and the removal of Chris McCandless from the abandoned bus, where he died in Denali National park. Also, the falling action includes Krakauer giving us more insight on how McCandless died based on the investigation that was done. Finally, the last falling action event is when Chris McCandless parents visit the bus where the son has died to grieve.


For the resolution after the climax, a series of events occur. Chris, later on in the novel ends up eating a poisonous berry when trying to desperately look for food to survive. This ends up later leading to his death, causing him to starve, become extremely nauseous, and weak due to the poison taking over all organs and systems in his body.


Throughout the novel, Jon Krakauer paints some very detailed and impactful themes for us. The biggest theme introduced is self-reliance. Throughout the novel, Chris McCandless meets a lot of people. All of them offer their help, however, Chris wants to be self-reliant. He turns them down most of the time. He claims in the book that he needs to leave these people behind and he wants to be independent. That is exactly what Chris does. Toward the end of the novel, Chris eats a poisonous berry which makes him extremely ill and ultimately kills him. It is hard not to think if perhaps he might have not lost all human contact entirely, maybe he might have been able to receive help. Ultimately, this is something that applies to many people today. It is good to be independent and be self-reliant however, getting rid of all contact or help from people around you is not smart either. I believe the message we can take from this novel is to accept help around you and that it’s okay to receive help. At the same time, independence and self-reliance is a good thing, however, Chris was not a character that portrayed this message. Another major theme presented in this novel is nature conflicting human intentions. Throughout the novel, Chris carries his books about nature. However, nature is unpredictable and as a result of it, it destroys his plans to survive in the wilderness.

About the author

This academic paper is composed by Samuel. He studies Biological Sciences at Ohio State University. All the content of this work reflects his personal knowledge about Theme, Setting and Symbolism in “Into The Wild” by Jon Krakauer and can be used only as a source for writing a similar paper.

More papers by Samuel:

How to cite this page

Choose cite format:

Theme, Setting and Symbolism in “Into The Wild” by Jon Krakauer. (2020, Oct 27). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/theme-setting-and-symbolism-in-into-the-wild-by-jon-krakauer/

Is Your Deadline Too Short?
Let Professionals Help You

Get Help

Our customer support team is available Monday-Friday 9am-5pm EST. If you contact us after hours, we'll get back to you in 24 hours or less.

By clicking "Send Message", you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.
No results found for “ image
Try Our service

Hi, I am Colleen from Paperap.

Hi there, would you like to get such a paper? How about receiving a customized one? Click to learn more https://goo.gl/CYf83b