Into the Wild Essay: Overview
The Pursuit of Happiness Every individual is unique. One’s unique identity is composed by their own beliefs, values and views. Many individuals wish to obtain a state of happiness. Happiness is not an unreachable goal since each person has their own individual definitions of true “happiness”. Sean Penn uses Chris McCandless’ life story to show the idea of what it means to be human in the movie Into the Wild. A person will try to pursue certainty and hopefulness because of particular events that happened in the person’s life. Relationships can be damaged by the findings of the reality of a situation.
The protagonist’s parents are highly ambitious individuals who place the value of worldly goods above everything else. After graduating from high school Chris goes on a trip to California where he visits with all friends and finds out that his father had another family before his sister and he were born. The emotions triggered by this discovery overwhelm Chris so he did not share his findings with his parents. “Rather than love, than money, than faith, than fame, than fairness… [he wanted the] truth”, something that his parents never gave him.
The trust that Chris had in his parents was broken by this revelation, resulting in him believing that he isn’t worthy of love. The only reason Chris found out the lies and secrets of his family was because he choose to deeply explore his family history. Freedom for Chris came from the findings about his parents. Chris hated the society he was in, he saw it as a world where the ignorant are in power and the well-educated intellectual has to watch his words since those words can have disastrous consequences.
Chris sees people as prisoners, living unhappy lives and putting up with the confines of their lives, never wanting to break out of a life of security and behaviour akin to following the heard because all of this can give a person a fake sense of peace of mind. Chris saw the only way that he could escape those feelings of being poisoned by society and the only way that he can truly fee himself from his circumstances by simply running away and walking alone through the land, eventually isolating himself from everything. This is Chris’ definition of happiness.
To accomplish this he simply donated all of his money to charity and left without telling anyone. The deceit and lies from his family pushed Chris to run away from a pretentious reality and form his own version of what a happy and fulfilling reality was by surrounding himself with the harmony of nature. This was Chris’ journey of self-discovery and it came to fruition as he set off “Into the Wild”. Chris set off on his spiritual quest “…to find [himself] at least once in the most human conditions… with nothing to help [him] but [his] own hands and [his] own head”.
He went through all the difficulties of living purely off the land by hunting and fishing and often suffering from near-starvation without any exterior wealth or resources in order to prove that for him, it was “not [necessary] to be strong but to feel strong, to measure [himself] once”. The feat that Chris undertook, he was only able to carry it out based on a strong set of values and morals that he learned and absorbed from the words of great writers and enlightened thinkers.
To find inner peace and a true candid reality, Chris was driven to the wild for freedom and change. To close the void in his heart, Chris travels great distances. His final destination was Alaska, a land where he can escape from people, technology and all the other luxuries of everyday life. His survival in Alaska depended on him hunting and picking edible plants for food and starting fires for warmth. Chris spends most of his time contemplating about his life and about his ideas of happiness.
After much contemplating Chris finally realized that by simply running away he would not be able to solve his problems and the only way he can be truly happy is by sharing and interacting with others and ultimately he realizes that even he needs companionship. Leo Tolstoy captivates Chris with the idea that happiness stems from “being useful to people”. Once Chris realizes this he is sadly unable to return to society as he discovered that the snow melted and what once used to be a small river now turned into a full torrent which does not allow him to leave.
This is made worse by the poisonous plant that Chris ate which eventually causes his death. In the end it was Chris’ self centered ideals of happiness that led to his death. When starting his journey, Chris had his truth and ideals set in stone, but as he experienced true isolation, he, along with his ideals changed dramatically. One’s personal experiences are what create the significance of truth and perfectionism in one’s life. To fully comprehend this is very difficult because of the uniqueness of each individual.
Chris’ journey shows that trouble and distress will be present in a person’s life if they don’t have an ideal to which to live by. The truth isn’t always pretty and can very well be upsetting, but by finding the truth a person may be able to find an ideal. The truth about the unknown family that Chris has is what enabled him to create his ideals about how negative society is. His trip to Alaska on the other hand is what showed him another truth, one where he needs relationships and where his happiness can be achieved within the confines of society.