Characters make up the main story of a literary work. They convey the author’s ideas, beliefs, and relationships of the world as well as of the human beings around them. Major characters in Into the Wild by John Krakauer are interesting and deeply disturbing due to the depth of meanings they convey through their conversation and actions. Some of the major characters of this narrative have been discussed below.
Characters in Into the Wild
Jon Krakauer is the narrator of the story. He is an investigative journalist, who pieced together Chris McCandless’ story, his romance with the wild and natural world and his tragic death. He also explains various psychological motivations that prompted him to abandon the life of luxury and comfort and reach out to nature. His perspective, in fact, gives the readers an opportunity to peep into the main character. Furthermore, he also establishes his reputation as a knowledgeable journalist having access to information. His conclusion about Chris’ love with the wild and boredom with the parental world made way into his inner recesses, making Krakauer a sincere storyteller.
Christopher McCandless is the main character of the story. He is also known as Alexander Supertramp. According to the narrator, he is an odd character. However, he is also very intelligent. He grew up in the suburb of the capital city, he won laurels in the academic world and games. He graduated from a good university with honors, and yet he shows disinterest in his career and the world in general. He loved to read. However, his reading of novels and philosophies leads him towards religious spiritualism and leaning toward nature. He believed that most of humanity is poisoned. According to the narrator, Jon, Chris might have wanted to return to his family before his death.
Samuel Walter McCandless
Chris’ father, Walter McCandless is a space engineer with NASA. He was always busy working on different NASA projects. So, he barely gave time to his children. Although he is successful, he faces an emotional shortage because of his preoccupied life. He is an authoritative and self-driven person, who does not accept his parental mistake of pushing Chris to the extreme to shun him. His character offers enough justification for his absence, which forces Chris to look to the wild for solace. The depiction of his character as a harsh and stern father reinforces this impression.
Jim Gallian is a significant character who meets Chris before he disappears into the wild. He spots him as a young man near Fairbanks, shivering when he was driving his truck to Anchorage. He stops to pick up Chris. As a seasoned traveler, he knows that Alex, the name Chris tells him, is not making the right decision going to the Denali National Park. Therefore, he gives him his pair of shoes and some food with the advice that he should not enter the park at this hour. At heart, he knows that Alex is not going to last for days and would return soon, facing hunger and other obstacles in the wild.
Ronald A. Fraz
Ronald is a war veteran who had fought in Vietnam. He worked in Salton City in California and befriended Chris over there. Because of his past trauma, he is addicted to alcohol. He loves Chris as his son, perhaps due to his widowhood status and the loss of his only son. He worked as a home-trucker. He offered a psychological solution to Chris. However, he fails to persuade him to live with him.
Carine McCandless Fish
Carine McCandless is Chris’ younger sister. She is entirely opposite to him. She is outgoing and extrovert, athletic, and hardworking. Like her parents, she materialistic and hopes to join the line of young millionaires. Chris likes her social skills and smartness when he mentions his sister. Unlike Chris, she has deep relations with her family.
Billie is Walt McCandless’ second wife and Christopher McCandless’ mother. She helps her husband with his business of the consulting firm. She had to bear insults from her bullying husband. However, she remains a devoted wife and a loving mother. She instantly comes to know that Chris had died. Though Billie had been a primary victim Carine, her daughter, believes that she has betrayed and belittled her children. She further believes Billie’s the reason for Chris leaving his parents.
Westerberg is as an operator at an elevator and meets Chris on the road to Montana when he is on his journey to his final resting place. Westerberg becomes Chris’ friend and offers him a ride. He also provides him food and a place to live and work on his elevator when working in Carthage in Dakota. Interestingly, Wayne receives the last postcard from Chris.
A minor character, Gordon Samel is on a hunting trip with his colleague Ferdie. He follows the odor of Chris’ decomposing body near the parked truck and finds his lifeless body.
An independent lady, Jan Burres, is a middle-aged tramp who earns her livelihood by selling knick-knacks at markets. She meets Chris when he is hitchhiking and becomes his close friend. They stay in contact with each other until his last contact with civilization.