Chris McCandless – A Tragic Hero

1. Introduction

“Into the Wild” is one of the most well-designed films, which depicts the lives of the characters who abandoned their luxurious lives. The film is based on a true story and it was directed by Sean Penn. He did an amazing job in portraying the life of Chris McCandless – the main character of the film, who is played by Emile Hirsch.

The movie starts with Chris McCandless graduating from college and giving his savings to charity. Then he donates all of his possessions, including his car, and leaves Atlanta, heading for Alaska. On his way, he meets a lot of different people who influence his life and change his views on society, poverty, and friendship.

One day Chris finds an old copy of “East of Eden” by John Steinbeck in a discarded library book sale and underlines a sentence: “You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood. back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame. back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time—back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.” This quote becomes one of the leitmotifs in Chris’s journey as he tries to find himself and his place in this world.

2. Chris Mac and Sam Patch in “Into the Wild” Movie

Chris McCandless can be described as a tragic hero, who is similar to another character from Russian literature – Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” – Pierre Bezukhov. Both characters are lost and confused at the beginning of their journey. They are searching for something that they cannot find in their current lifestyle. For Pierre, it is a meaning of life, while for Chris it is himself. Tolstoy says that Pierre “felt that everything was vain and useless”, just like Chris when he decides to leave everything behind and start anew. They both feel that they do not fit into society with its rules and conventions. That is why they want to escape from it and find something more meaningful.

Even though Chris comes from a well-to-do family, he does not care about luxury and money. He gives away his savings without any hesitation and does not regret it later. When he arrives in Alaska, he lives in an old bus without any amenities or conveniences. However, he is happy there as he feels free and independent. This shows us that Chris does not care about materialistic things, unlike many other people in our society who strive to have more and more possessions.

Chris meets different people on his journey who teach him valuable lessons about life. One of these people is Sam Patch – a poor man who lives in a shack near a river with his dogs. Even though Sam is not rich, he is content with what he has got and does not complain about his life like many other people do. He is happy just being able to experience life itself. Sam tells Chris: “You know what happiness is? Happiness is dying young as late as possible.” This line shows us that Sam values life more than anything else. He does not care about fame or fortune, but just wants to enjoy every moment while he can still breathe.

Chris is also influenced by his friend Eric, who tells him that “it is better to burn out than to fade away”. This line becomes one of the most important in the film as it shows us Chris’s philosophy on life. He does not want to live a boring and mundane life like most people do. He wants to experience as much as possible and feel alive. That is why he takes risks and does not care about the consequences.

Chris’s views on life are also shaped by his experience of working at a fast food restaurant while he was in college. He hates the job and everything it stands for – the hypocrisy, shallowness, and emptiness of consumerist society. This makes him even more determined to leave everything behind and start anew.

3. Conclusion

In conclusion, we can say that Chris McCandless is a tragic hero, who is similar to Pierre Bezukhov from “War and Peace”. They both feel lost and confused at the beginning of their journey. They are searching for something that they cannot find in their current lifestyle. However, Chris’s journey is more successful as he manages to find himself and his place in this world. He learns valuable lessons about life from the people he meets on his way and his views are shaped by his experience of working in a fast food restaurant.


Chris McCandless was motivated to abandon his life and venture into the wild because he wanted to live a simple life away from the materialistic world. He also wanted to test himself and see if he could survive in the wilderness on his own.

Sam Patch's experience in the wilderness was very different from Chris McCandless'. Sam Patch was more interested in testing his physical limits and seeing how long he could last in the wilderness, while Chris McCandless was more interested in living a simple life away from society.

Their different outlooks on life affected their choices while in the wild in that Chris McCandless was more likely to take risks because he didn't value his life as much as Sam Patch did. Sam Patch was more cautious because he valued his life more and didn't want to die in the wilderness.

Neither of them found what they were looking for during their time in nature, but they both learned valuable lessons about themselves and human nature.

Their experiences changed them both significantly, teaching them important lessons about themselves, human nature, and survival.

Some lessons we can learn from their stories include never giving up on yourself, being prepared for anything, and knowing your limits.

In my opinion, Chris McCandless was more successful in living "off the grid" because he had a better understanding of what it takes to survive in the wilderness and he was willing to take risks.