Into the Wild: Chapter 8 Summary

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  • 0:04 Luck & Ignorance
  • 0:50 Lack of Prep & Sanity
  • 1:35 Mayor of Hippie Cove
  • 2:29 Carl McCunn
  • 3:20 Chris in Context
  • 4:00 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
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 8 of Jon Krakauer's 'Into the Wild'. In this chapter, Krakauer tells us about some other cases of lone explorers who wandered into the wilderness of Alaska.

Luck & Ignorance

In Chapter 8 of Into the Wild, author Jon Krakauer tells us about the influx of mail he received from readers after his initial story about Chris McCandless was published in Outside magazine. Many readers were incensed that Chris's story was getting so much press. They thought that Krakauer was glorifying McCandless when he was more deserving of a scolding.

One reader wrote, ''Personally I see nothing positive at all about Chris McCandless's lifestyle or wilderness doctrine. ... Entering the wilderness purposefully ill prepared ... does not make you a better human.'' This reader further asserted that Chris was not to be admired for the near-death scrapes he escaped before reaching Alaska. Instead, this reader thought Chris was just ''damn lucky.'' Another reader wrote, ''ignorance ... is what killed him. ... I have no sympathy for him.''

Lack of Prep & Sanity

Krakauer received a lot of mail in which the writers upbraid Chris for his lack of preparation, but he also received some that questioned Chris's sanity. ''McCandless was a kook,'' one such reader wrote, suspecting that Chris ''had already gone over the edge and just happened to hit bottom in Alaska.'' Still other readers were outraged by the way Chris treated his family. ''Why would any son cause his parents and family such permanent and perplexing pain?'' one reader asks.

In Chapter 8, Krakauer presents us with a sampling of the reader responses to Chris's story. The general consensus is that Chris ''was simply one more dreamy half-cocked greenhorn who went into the country expecting to find answers to all his problems and instead found only mosquitoes and a lonely death.''

Mayor of Hippie Cove

Chris McCandless was just one of many explorers who met his end in the Alaskan wilderness. In Chapter 8, Krakauer tells us about one of these other explorers: the Mayor of Hippie Cove. His real name was Gene Rosellini. Like Chris, Gene was a well-educated man from a wealthy family who had many talents and prospects. Also like Chris, Gene abandoned a promising life for a wandering journey in the wilderness.

As Debra McKinney, a news reporter, explained, Gene ''became convinced that humans had devolved into progressively inferior beings ... and it was his goal to return to a natural state.'' He eventually decided this ''natural state'' was not actually attainable. His new goal, he decided, was to walk around the world. He set about making plans for the new journey, but instead of leaving as he had planned, he was found on the floor of his cabin with a knife in his heart. Medical evidence suggested that the wound was self-inflicted.

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