Into the Wild: Discussion Questions

Objectives:

  • Analyze and evaluate a writer’s choices.
  • Explore how genres can explore similar themes through different forms.
  • Expand knowledge of Transcendentalist values through multiple genres.

In English III and English III Honors, we have been reading Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. We are now in the beginning of comparing the film’s presentation of Christopher McCandless and Transcendentalism to that of the book. Below you will find a few discussion questions. Your mission is to choose three questions (one from each section), answer them to the best of your ability, and then come up with two questions that you could ask others in your discussion group.

If this sounds like the making of a Socratic Seminar to you, you would be correct! Choose wisely!

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

  • Each chapter opens with 1-2 epigraphs. What do these quotes do to focus our reading?
  • What is the effect of Krakauer’s narrative choice (non-chronological order)?
  • What is the effect of the multi-genre presentation included within the story of Christopher McCandless?
  • Was Chris McCandless’ death “foolish”? Why, or why not?
  • What do you think Krakauer’s goals were in writing this text?
  • Thoreau wrote, “rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth”. Chris highlighted this passage and wrote “truth” directly above it. Why do you think McCandless was pulled towards this quote?
  • What is the value of a minimalist lifestyle?
  • What are your thoughts on wealth? Accumulation? Does it corrupt?
  • What does it mean for McCandless when he assumed a new identity as Alexander Supertramp?
  • Would McCandless’ story have mattered to anyone if he had survived?

Into the Wild (film)

  • What is the value of journaling your thoughts?
  • What can you learn about yourself when you are away from distractions and alone? Do you look for opportunities to get away?
  • What are some decisions that McCandless made that could be considered unsafe?
  • In what ways do you feel civilization “poisons” us?
  • How would you react if someone like Christopher appeared in your life out of nowhere? Would you welcome him? What questions would you ask him?
  • Do you ever wish your life was drastically different than it currently is? Why or why not? How far would you go to change it?
  • What influence does society/your peers have your own life?
  • What are some societal things that go on in our world that currently frustrate you?
  • Christopher meets people along the way who teach him many life lessons. Which has been the most relatable to you?
  • Was McCandless prepared for the Alaskan wilderness? How could he have been better prepared?
  • After evaluating what you’ve seen, would you consider Christopher wise, reckless, or both?

Misc.

  • What is the value of journaling your thoughts?
  • If you could donate material possessions to a charity of your choice, what would you choose to donate? Who would this donation go to and why?
  • What are some material items in your life you could definitely do without?
  • If you knew your death was coming soon, what would you want to do in your remaining time?
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