Into the Wild: Chapter 13 Summary

Instructor: Lauren Boivin

Lauren has taught English at the university level and has a master's degree in literature.

This lesson provides an overview of Chapter 13 of Jon Krakauer's 'Into the Wild'. In this chapter we learn a little more about Chris's sister Carine, and we get a closer look at the aftermath of the family's grief.

Little Sister

Author Jon Krakauer has told us several times throughout Into the Wild that Chris McCandless and his sister Carine were very close. In Chapter 13, Krakauer tells us that the two siblings looked enough alike that they were often asked if they were twins.

We also learn that Carine, like Chris, ''is energetic and self-assured, a high achiever, quick to state an opinion.'' The two also share in common the fact that they both fought bitterly with their parents as adolescents. Despite these similarities, Carine and Chris were also vastly different from one another.

Carine, unlike Chris, repaired her relationship with her parents. She appears to have been able to forgive and move on where Chris could not. Carine's lifestyle is also NOT in keeping with Chris's minimal, anti-capitalist approach.

Carine and her husband own an auto repair shop and hope to make their first million at an early age. ''I was always getting on Mom and Dad's case because they worked all the time and were never around,'' Carine reflects with irony, ''and now look at me: I'm doing the same thing.'' Indeed, Chris used to tease Carine for her capitalist ideals, but it was always a friendly sort of banter.

Saved By a Dog?

In the previous chapter, Krakauer told us about Carine's dog Buckley--Carine's Shetland sheepdog whom Chris adored. We learn in Chapter 13 that Chris had wanted to take the dog with him on his post-college trip across the country. At that point, however, Buckley was recovering from being hit by a car. He was in pretty bad shape and the veterinarian was doubtful he would be able to walk again.

Because of the vet's diagnosis, Chris's parents said he couldn't take the dog with him. They later tortured themselves on this decision, Carine tells us, saying they ''can't help wondering...how things might have turned out different if Chris had taken Buck with him.'' Carine further explains, ''Chris didn't think twice about risking his own life, but he never would have put Buckley in any kind of danger.'' Could the dog have saved Chris's life? We will never know.

News Delivered

After learning how close the siblings were, we can better understand the intense grief Krakauer describes Carine endured when she learned of his death. Carine's half-brother, Sam, had phoned her husband at work with the news. Carine's husband was distraught--he knew how much Carine cared for her brother. He delivered the news simply, ''It's your brother. They found him. He's dead.''

Carine experienced denial at first, saying ''Chris isn't dead.'' Then, a blinding grief took over. She screamed and sobbed uncontrollably for four hours. She was in complete shock and there was nothing her husband could do to comfort her.

Bringing Chris Home

After Chris's identity had been confirmed through dental records, Carine went to Alaska with Sam to collect his belongings and to bring his ashes home. We can see the severe effects of grief in the details Krakauer shares. When one is in such a distressed mental state, odd details become really important. Carine remembers being struck by how big the box of ashes was. She was also fixated for a while on the fact that they made a mistake in labeling the box, giving Chris the middle initial of R instead of J. ''Chris wouldn't care,'' Carine finally reasoned with herself, ''He'd think it was funny.''

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