Do Now: Open your books to the author’s note and read the 3 pages it covers. Write down some important notes, then prepare to answer some following questions… Author’s Note 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. How long did Chris McCandless’ journey in the Alaskan wilderness last? Immediately after graduating from Emory University in 1990, Chris McCandless dropped out of sight. List 5 things that he did to support his “plan”. What are some themes Krakauer mentions are the result of his “meandering inquiry”? What do you think Krakauer means when he states “I won’t claim to be an impartial biographer”? What reason does Krakauer offer for writing this book? (and how did it go so wrong?) McCandless’s Major Literary Influences Jack London and Naturalism Henry David Thoreau and Transcendentalism Leo Tolstoy and Realism Jack London (1876-1916) Born in San Francisco As an adolescent, London worked at various hard labor jobs pirated for oysters on San Francisco Bay served on a fish patrol to capture poacher sailed on a Pacific sealing ship travelled around the country as a hobo attended high school at age 19 Chose to become a writer to escape horrific prospect of working in a factory Jack London Bio Continued Very famous figure in adulthood; used fame to endorse political movements such as socialism, women’s suffrage and prohibition. Although his socialist views can be seen in his writing, there is also a strong drive toward individualism and capitalistic success. London died November 22, 1916, in a sleeping porch in a cottage on his ranch. He was in extreme pain due to complications from kidney stones and taking morphine. It is possible that a morphine overdose, accidental or deliberate, may have contributed to his death. Jack London’s Works His novel The Call of the Wild was thought to be McCandless’s biggest influence The Call of the Wild London intended to write about a dog who merely reverts to the wild He states that he unconsciously wrote “the human allegory (extended metaphor) in the dog’s life-and-death struggle to adapt himself to a hostile environment” Jack London and Naturalism Naturalism: A type of literature that uses realism to suggest that social conditions, heredity and environment shapes the individual and determines his fate Directly contrasts Romantic works like Anthem where the individual shapes his own environment and is master of his fate Expose the dark harshness of life Characters can be studied through their relationship to their surroundings Naturalism Continued Characters in Naturalistic works are often ill-educated or lower class whose lives are controlled by outside forces Characters try to exercise free will and find they are powerless to outside forces beyond their control Exposed the dark harshness of life including: poverty, racism, sex, violence, prejudice, disease, corruption, prostitution, and filth. How did this inspire Chris McCandless’s philosophy? He believed that environment shaped the individual and sought out an environment that would better shape him; sought to leave what he felt were negative influences He took The Call of the Wild quite literally as a call to live in the wild to seek one’s true potential London’s socialism may have contributed to McCandless’s disdain of money and anti-materialism Where did it go wrong? Naturalism was a literary movement, not a fact of reality. Few truly believe that individuals are powerless to the influence of their environment. Likewise most environments are not completely pure or completely corrupt. His hero, Jack London, obviously realized his works were fiction and not a plan to follow. He chose to write to avoid hard labor and died among the conveniences of modern life. Did McCandless mistake fiction as a literal guide for living? Henry David Thoreau- 1817-1862 Lived at a time of increasing modernity—business and technology beginning to dominate American life Grew up in a liberal family in Concord, MA Regarded as an oddball Attended Harvard and became a teacher Emphasized more reverence for nature (cabin for 2 years) Published only 2 moderately successful books during his lifetime Died of tuberculosis Transcendentalism: What did they believe? Most people “lead lives of quiet desperation” (HDT). In day to day modern life, we simply go through the motions and never stop to truly live. In order to live deliberately, one must become self-reliant, intuitive ,become reflective, and get in touch with nature. Example: HDT left his life to live deliberately in a cabin in the woods. His experience turned into Walden Walden Pond and a Replica of Thoreau’s cabin Transcendentalism (continued) When a person lives deliberately and follows his intuition, he “transcends” everyday life and experiences the sublime. The sublime is beauty, wonder and awe. An overpowering feeling of respect for life and nature. The transcendent person becomes god-like. She trusts and relies on herself and her instincts. Why did this backfire on Chris McCandless? Although following your own intuition is a major part of Transcendentalist belief, total solitude is not. Thoreau did go to Walden Pond to live deliberately, but he was not a hermit. He entertained many visitors. Additionally, self-reliance does not require refusing all help and advice. One might argue that an aspect of self-reliance is recognizing when to seek help. Was McCandless self-reliant or merely stubborn? And Finally…Leo Tolstoy (18281910) Russian writer of primarily novels and short stories His two greatest works, Anna Karenina and War and Peace, considered to be the pinnacle of realist fiction Born into Russian nobility Dropped out of university after teachers called him “unable and unwilling to learn”; ran up huge gambling debts and joined the army to escape Tolstoy’s Political Beliefs After viewing a public execution, Tolstoy wrote, "The truth is that the State is a conspiracy designed not only to exploit, but above all to corrupt its citizens ... Henceforth, I shall never serve any government anywhere.“ Led to his belief in non-violent anarchy as the only way for people to get along Believed in equality among all social classes and opened a school for the children of serfs Opposed private property and the institution of marriage (despite being married himself) Valued chastity and abstinence Tolstoy’s Religious Beliefs Considered to be a Christian ascetic, meaning he believed he must reject all worldly pleasures in order to find spiritual fulfillment Took Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount literally which guided his belief in pacifism, nonviolence and nonresistance Believed that a true Christian could find lasting happiness by striving for inner self-perfection through following the Great Commandment of loving one's neighbor and God rather than looking outward to the Church or state for guidance Died of pneumonia in a train station at age 82 after giving up all worldly possessions (including his family) in order to live as a wandering ascetic And in case you thought you had nothing in common with Leo Tolstoy… Tolstoy on Shakespeare… "I remember the astonishment I felt when I first read Shakespeare. I expected to receive a powerful aesthetic pleasure, but having read, one after the other, works regarded as his best: King Lear, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and Macbeth, not only did I feel no delight, but I felt an irresistible repulsion and tedium...". Realism Works that depict contemporary life and society "as they were." Realist writers try to capture everyday activities The character is more important than action and plot; complex ethical choices are often the subject Plots are generally plausible Characters diction is natural, not heightened or poetic (This is why Tolstoy did not enjoy Shakespeare.) What did McCandless take from Tolstoy and Realism? A disdain for money, worldly possessions, and romantic relationships (asceticism) A belief that lasting happiness could be found only by achieving inner self-perfection Desire for realism and a life based on strong ethics What went wrong? As McCandless writes, “Happiness only real when shared.” Are human relationships equal to worldly possessions? Is asceticism really the best way to live? •Are basic survival tools “worldly possessions”? Where does survival end and luxury begin? •Did McCandless’ beliefs set him up to fail?