Book Review: Into The Wild

by | Oct 7, 2019 | Books

Into The Wild: The Difference Between Heroes And Phonies

Many people regard Chris McCandless as a hero, including me.  However, some question what separates Chris McCandless’ story from every other hobo, drifter, and bum who’s ever picked up a Jack Kerouac novel.  To me, the differences are very easy to spot.  There are two major ones: 1) self-belief and 2) quality relationships.


One thing is self-belief.  Chris McCandless really, truly believed in himself.  And it wasn’t run-of-the-mill self-belief that everyone who’s ever graduated college and got a 9 to 5 job has.  He was on a whole different level.  He had the level of self-belief you would expect Prince, Tom Brady, or Brad Pitt to have—only people who broke through to the very top of their game.

People are obsessed with Chris’ story because he broke through to that level, but it didn’t look how people thought it would.  He was a true artist, philosopher, and liver of life, and this is what success looked like to him.  In other words, Chris McCandless made it.  He was wildly successful.  He lived out his most epic fantasy.  Had he survived, he might have written the next great American novel and been immortalized in the cannon next to Henry David Thoreau and Mark Twain.  He was still immortalized but didn’t get to write the book because he was dead.  John Krakauer had to write it for him.

The fact that Chris’ story was told for him, even though he was dead, tells you how powerful it was.  His story had to be told.  It was too powerful not to be.  His story was powerful because he lived powerfully.  He lived powerfully because he did what he wanted.

The hobos, drifters, and bums he’s compared to are nothing like him.  They are the polar opposite of him.  Those people run away from their lives out of weakness and fear.  They run into the wilderness to hide so they don’t have to face their truth.  Chris McCandless wasn’t running away from his life.  He was running towards it.  This was an act of standing up and claiming what was his.  He was staring his truth down and taking what was his.

Quality Relationships

The people Chris met on his journey loved him like he was a part of their family, and no doubt he loved them back.  Hobos, bums, and drifters don’t have relationships like that.  Nobody wants those kinds of guys around.  People invited Chris into their home and treated him like their son.  Chris made quality relationships everywhere he went.  Bums can’t make or keep quality relationships.  That’s how you know Chris was different.

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