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									                           Into the Wild: Reading Packet
Name: _______________________                         Period: __________________

As You Read
As you read, engage in the practice of active reading. That is, take notes, use post-its to
locate important passages, and write down your responses and questions.

Mark parts of the book or take notes on:
• What interests you
• What you disagree with or want to challenge
• What disturbs you
• What you don’t understand
• Anything that helps you respond to questions such as those included in this booklet.

Reading Assignment 1: Chapters 1-3                                    Due: _____________

   1. How does Jon Krakauer characterize the Alaskan bush?

   2. Jim Gallien (who takes Chris to Healy, Alaska) says people going to Alaska have
      something in common. What is it?

   3. Why is Gallien concerned about Chris?

   4. Food for Thought: The epigraph at the beginning of chapter two (page 9) is by
      Jack London. He wrote a book called Call of the Wild, among others. What is
      London’s view of the wild from this epigraph?

   5. How did the Stampede Trail come to exist?
   6. In chapter two the reader gets a brief description of the discovery of Chris’ body.
      What happens and what problems result from this discovery?

   7. What does Wayne Westerburg think of “Alex”? What does he notice about him?

   8. In chapter three what do we learn about Chris McCandless’ family?

   9. What do we learn about his college experience?

   10. Why would Chris call college an “absurd and onerous duty” (Krakauer 22)?

   11. What do you think of Chris’ treatment of his family?

Terms to define:

1. Contumacious:


3. Fulminate:
Reading Assignment #2: Chapters 4-9                        Due: ___________________

1. Discuss what Shepard is trying to say based on the excerpt “Man in the Landscape” in
“Detrital Wash”. Do not use the remaining text to answer this question.

2. What is revealed about McCandless’s character in “Detrital Wash” and can we find a
potential tragic flaw out of this chapter?

3. Discuss Jan Burress’s character in “Bullhead City”

4. Why is McCandless so enamored with Thoreau (Based on the excerpt from “Anza-

5. What is the irony in McCandless’s letter to Ron in “Anza-Borrego”?

6. How might McCandless be viewed as strange, according to Krakauer in “Carthage”
(Chapter 7)?
7. How does the excerpt from Edward Hoagland in “Alaska” and connect to the overall

8. Why does Jon Krakauer include the stories of other people who go on a life journey
(“Alaska”, “Davis Gulch”)?

9. What do McCandless and the others he is compared to have in common? List three

10. Analyze the parallels Krakauer introduces in “Davis Gulch”. How do they
strengthen Krakauer’s subtle argument that McCandless is in his right mind his entire

Terms to Define:

1. Tragic hero:

2. Nomad:

3. detrital:
Reading Assignment #3: Chapters 10-13                   Due:__________________

   1) What were the reactions to McCandless’s death in “Fairbanks”? Include a quote
      as part of your answer.

   2) Once again, contemplate the epigraph in “Chesapeake Beach”, and then examine
      the family relationships of the McCandless family from both “Chesapeake
      Beach” and “Annandale”. List two family members and explain/analyze their
      relationships with Chris and each other:


   3) What drove McCandless to head “Into the Wild” (based on “Chesapeake Beach”
      and “Annandale”)? Use a quote to strengthen your answer.
   4) How did Chris’s friends in high school and college view McCandless?
       Compare/contrast their views with the people “Alex” met on his two-year

            High school friends                        Friends from the journey

Terms to Define: (choose 3 words that you didn’t know and include their dictionary
definition here).
1. ___________________

2. ____________________

3. _____________________

Recall the last few chapters and answer the following questions about them:

a. What did Chris discover that caused the strain between Chris and his father?

b. What are three similarities between Carine and Chris?

Reading Assignment 4: Chapters 14-15                      Due:___________________
1. Why does Krakauer share his experiences in the chapters labeled “The Stikine Ice

2. What is he trying to do with this rather interesting switch (see #1) in the path of
this book?

3. Explain Krakauer’s Alaskan experience.
   Where did he go?
   What was his purpose?
   How did he almost die?

   What were three challenges he faced?
   4. In Chapter 15, Krakauer examines his own relationship with his father. Compare
   his relationship with his father to Chris and Walt McCandless’ relationship.

Krakauer and his father       Similarities                   Chris and Walt McCandless

   5. Why was the descent off the Stikine Ice Cap terrifying?

   6. How old was Krakauer when he went on this adventure?

   7. What was the name of the summit he reached?

   8. What similarities does Krakauer list between himself and McCandless?
Reading Assignment 5: Chapters 16                       Due: _____________

1. How did McCandless get to Alaska?

2. Who brought McCandless there and why was it a risky move? What eventually
convinced him to bring him?

3. What supplies did McCandless pick up in Anchorage before he set out on the final
leg of his journey?

4. What is an allusion? (look it up)

What does “crossing his Rubicon” mean? What is it an allusion to?

5. Discuss McCandless’ “Declaration of Independence” on p. 163 (“The Alaska
Interior) and how does it provide a climax to “Alex’s” journey.
6. In the last week of May, after moving his few possessions into the bus,
McCandless wrote a list of housekeeping chores down. What are they?
Short term                                  Long term

7. Explain the hunting disaster and what happened: what did he kill? Why was it a

8. The epigraph in “The Stampede Trail” is critical. Make direct connections from
the epigraph to the chapter.

9. Summarize the tragic circumstances that are discussed in “The Stampede Trail”
(Chapter 18).

10. What are the theories presented by Krakauer?

11. What is your conclusion?
Thought Questions:

1. What is Chris McCandless’ view of college? Why does he feel the way he does? How
is it similar to or different from the view you currently hold of college?

2. What part do class tensions (money and inequality) play in McCandless’ decisions?
Why did he give up his inheritance? Why did he give it to Oxfam? If you had money and
decided to give it away, what organization or individuals might you give it to? Why?

3. What do you make of McCandless’s farewell note? What does it convey about how his
thinking may or may not have changed since he went into the woods?

4. Is there anything in your life you have ever felt so passionately about that you have
been willing to undertake great hardships to pursue it?
5. This book claims to be nonfiction, which we usually take to mean a factual account of
an event. Is it entirely? Do you see any subjective passage/approaches?

6.What do Jon Krakauer’s autobiographical sections add to Into the Wild? Did you find
these sections to enrich or detract from the story?

7. The way a book is written as much as the story itself may be what engages and holds
readers. If you found the book compelling, what about Krakauer’s writing made it so? If
the book did not captivate you, what about the writing was unappealing?

Books Mentioned in Into the Wild
London, Jack. The Call of the Wild. 1903.
London, Jack. White Fang. 1906.
Muir, John. The Mountains of California. 1898.
Pasternak, Boris Leonidovich. Doctor Zhivago. 1958.
Shepard, Paul. Man in the Landscape: A Historic View of the Esthetics of Nature. 1967.
Stegner, Wallace. The American West as Living Space. 1987.
Storr, Anthony. Solitude: A Return to the Self. 1988.
Thoreau, Henry David. Walden, or Life in the Woods. 1854.
Tolstoy, Leo Graf. War and Peace. 1862-69.
Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. 1884.

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