Christian Lander

It would be easy on the one hand to consider McCandless a self absorbed jerk. In fact, so many of his ideals have been perfectly satirised by Christian Lander at Stuff white people like, especially Making you feel bad about not going outside, Hating their parents, Being offended and Taking a year off. It does seem to me that McCandless was experiencing a kind of extended adolescence, needing to be different, railing against conformity and searching for meaning, but only within the boundaries he feels safe in. There's a real irony to the fact that the very society he so despised both provided him with the economic freedom to pursue his ideology in the first place, and provided the kind of organised safety net with which to fling himself upon the world. Had he been raised in poverty, had he had to fight hard for his place in University, he might have found his education a blessing, not a curse. If he really wanted to go off into an alternate way of living, he could have taken himself off to any non-democratic, third world country and burnt his remaining money there. Some of the things he wrote to his sister about their parents show a great misunderstanding of his importance to them and how his actions affected them, and disregard for their feelings. But, it can't be that he was simply an arrogant and misguided young man. As Krakauer says McCandless made an indelible impression on a number of people during the course of his hegira, most of whom spent only a few days in his company, a week or two at most. And many of his writings and letters to his friends reveal a passionate mind, full of the joy of living, discovery and most of all adventure. This book is a really interesting read into the psychology of freedom, and I highly recommend it.