Into the Wild Project Parizo Senior/British Literature 2012-2013 What is Into The Wild? • Into The Wild is a 1997 nonfiction book by John Krakauer that has been turned into a movie directed by Sean Penn. • The book follows the true story of Christopher McCandless – an Emory graduate who gives away his graduation gift from his parents, $25,000, to charity and ventures out into the Alaskan wilderness to “find himself” where he dies of starvation alone in the back of an abandoned bus. What is the plot? • The book is highly acclaimed and its main character, Christopher McCandless, has become a modern-day folk hero to many. • In the novel, McCandless acts like a modern Holden Caulfield (The Catcher in the Rye) – he damns the world for its phoniness, hates his family (especially his father) for a dark secret, and seeks a higher truth that he feels exists somewhere in the Alaskan wild. Public Reactions to Into The Wild • The book has gathered international fame and is considered to be one of the greatest literary accomplishments of the late 20th-Century – an iconoclastic book – not because of the plot or its main character, but because of what the novel and its writer attempt to accomplish. Why is it considered to be iconoclastic? • Krakauer, a newspaper journalist, spent years researching the life of McCandless and the people and places along his Alaskan journey. He wrote a novel that re-enacts actual conversations, meetings, and re-tells the tale of McCandless in an attempt to validate the strange decisions made by McCandless. Why is it considered to be iconoclastic? • The point of the novel is not to tell the story of McCandless – nor is it meant to turn McCandless into a hero. • Rather, it objectively and subjectively dissects the actions and personality of this young man in an attempt to humanize him and make him relatable. John Krakauer and Christopher McCandless • Krakauer was drawn to McCandless and the life decisions that he made. Krakauer felt that McCandless’ journey was one that was highly flawed, selfish, but noble at the same time. • Krakauer saw himself in the young McCandless – Into The Wild tells more than just the story of McCandless, but also of the author. Krakauer journeys through self-discovery as he chronicles the physical journey of Christopher McCandless. The Product: An Into The Wild Research Project • You will work independently to recreate Krakauer’s novel using a different person who you are drawn to – someone who you know a little about and would like to know more, or someone you’ve never heard of before (referred to as the subject). • Choose from list provided or pitch another person to Mr. Parizo – and must be someone who made large, misunderstood, and possibly dangerous decisions that society has either forgotten or has damned. The Product • You will research an individual and recreate key chapters we read as a class or read independently using your subject in place of McCandless. You will approach similar concepts Krakauer approaches. • In the end, you will have a completed edition of your own Into The Wild novel – titled, researched, designed, and written by you. The Product’s Purpose • We’ve already studied the concept of “authentic human communication” or how we know more about our own generation by knowing others, and how we can know more about ourselves by knowing other people, but now we go one step further. • The goal is to tell the story of another human being, whom you may never meet, and humanize this person for the class, and to yourself – seeing if you can find something in him/her that you connect with, as Krakauer did with McCandless. The Process • As we read chapters or have class discussions of the novel, you will be responsible to research and mirror the novel. • You will be responsible for systematically researching and completing certain tasks/assignments as we progress through the novel. • All research must be cited in the form of a works cited page (parenthetical citation is unnecessary) Example: Into the Wild Section 3 • Part 1: Modeled after Chapter Four: Tell a story from your subject’s life that you feel best represents him/her as a person. Consider their family, environments, or events that shaped that person’s character. Two pages, narrated in third person. • Part 2: Research a writer and a short story/book that you feel your subject would relate to as much as McCandless does to Leo Tolstoy and Jack London. In one page, discuss what themes or concepts your subject would be drawn to.