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Choose one of the following prompts:

Developing a theme: Explain how Krakauer develops a theme through his telling of McCandless's story. Choose one of the following topics and explain how Krakauer develops this idea into a theme and for what purpose:

  • the American wilderness
  • arrogance/innocence/ignorance
  • isolation vs. intimacy
  • freedom of solitude
  • luck/chance/circumstance
  • materialism vs. idealism
  • risk and self-reinvention

Your thesis should address and explain the theme, how it is developed, what purpose it fulfills. The essay should be richly supported with references to the text, and the conclusion should consider the implications of the theme developed in the essay.


Argument option 1: Consider carefully the following quotation from the "'Author's Note'":

Some readers admired the boy immensely for his courage and noble ideals; others fulminated that he was a reckless idiot, a wacko, a narcissist who perished out of arrogance and stupidity-and was undeserving of the considerable media attention he received (xi). --John Krakauer, Into the Wild

Consider what Krakauer believes. Is he qualified to give an objective opinion (think about reliable narrator)? Though Krakauer tries to maintain objectivity, even he admits that his bias will become apparent. In a well-organized essay, explain Krakauer's position on McCandless. Support your argument with references from throughout the text. Try to keep your opinion to yourself- rather, analyze what you see of Krakauer's bias and how you know.


Argument option 2: Consider the following and what you have previously written about McCandless:

"I think that Chris McCandless was bright and ignorant at the same time. He had no common sense, and he had no business going into Alaska with his romantic silliness. He made a lot of mistakes based on arrogance. I don't admire him at all for his courage nor his noble ideas. Really, I think he was just plain crazy." - Shaun Callarman

In a well-organized essay, explain Callarman's view of McCandless, then, take a position yourself on McCandless discussing the extent to which you agree or disagree with his analysis. Support your argument with references from throughout the text.


Personal essay: Compare and contrast your own life, experience or viewpoint to either Krakauer's or Christopher McCandless's. Go beyond simply not getting along with parents, do you relate to Chris in other ways? Do you feel that you understand him and what he did? Do you admire him for his goals? Have you had any experiences that you think help you better understand him? You must use specific examples showing your experience and how it connects to the text; focus on several passages in your comparison. The passages from the text must be embedded clearly and explained effectively to reflect your understanding of the author's purpose. Do not oversimplify the text in your comparison; to do so would reflect an incomplete understanding of the text. If the situations are radically different, then that must be explained and acknowledged; if the feelings/emotions are similar, then you must show this similarity with examples, details, and anecdotes- don't simply "tell" your reader. Your thesis should clearly address the prompt and explain the comparison in the intro; the conclusion should also address the implications to the comparison.


 

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