1 – Into the Wild shows a man who journey’s through the country in order to find peace and belonging. Christopher McCandless or ‘Alexander Supertramp’ was a man who wished not to conform to the way society was governed, he did no want to be sucked into the depths of technology which has consumed the minds of many people. He only wished to live simply as one would have one thousand years ago. Into the wild strongly relates to the concept of belonging in many ways. In May 1990 McCandless graduates from Emory University with high honors.
Instead of doing joining the workforce and being ruled by a world filled with laws he chooses to leave the world he has always know and been affiliated to start a new adventure. He does not tell anybody of his departure, as he wants to take this journey alone. Chris finds happiness and belonging when he reaches the Alaskan wilderness, it consists of no civilization or even signs of civilization apart from the abandon bus that he finds refuge in. The film shows that although McCandless is greeted by society with open arms, a life that would have been very tempting, he chooses not to conform to the way everyone else lives.
Rubric: A sense of belonging can emerge from the connections made with people, places, groups, communities and the larger world. On McCandless’s journey he comes into to contact with many different types of people and communities, from hippies to his fellow worker at a fast food restaurant. He finds many different characters, who have all found their place to belong in society, they have merged to form groups, all with their own ethics and beliefs. Many of these places suit Chris’s lifestyle but he still chooses to venture alone, as he is still unable to find the place where he really feels at home.
He meets new people all the time who give him valuable knowledge on life. One occasion in particular is when McCandless encounters Ron Franz, a retired man who served in the United States army. McCandless lives with Ron for a while and Ron teaches him the craft of leatherwork. The pair are different in many ways but somehow formed a very strong bond between each other to the point where Ron offers to adopt him as a grandchild. This shows that a strong sense of belonging emerged through the relationship formed by McCandless and Ron.
Another idea about belonging is that even people that are strongly connected to each other often have very different perspectives on belonging. This is seen through McCandless and his father. McCandless doesn’t feel that he belongs when is father makes the decisions for him and tells him what to wear and drive, this creates fear of being judged, he also doesn’t like developing new relationships with people, he does however over come these when he lives out in the wild, meeting new people along the way. – Sean Penn uses many film techniques and language features to help create ideas about belonging. Penn makes it clear that McCandless does not feel that he belongs in the city when he first arrives. It is shown to be a congested, loud and unnatural place. In the first minute after he hops off the train he finds himself having to crawl on his hands and knees under train carriages and drainage pipes. He later decides to walk down the streets late at night, You are able to hear sirens blaring, the streets are also very dirty with rubbish everywhere.
Penn used these scenes as a way of representing cities as being dirty and congested, with no room for freedom. This is compared to the Alaskan wilderness that McCandless finally discovers. These scenes are done with many extreme long shots of the nature that surrounds McCandless. One significant example of these is when he stands up on the abandon bus that he had just discovered and yell ‘is there anybody out here? ” as loud as he can. This emphasizes the fact that he has found a place where he can live with peace and freedom, he had found a place to belong.
Another technique used in this film is the narration of Chris’s sister. Through out the movie we are shown how Chris feels and how he changes, but with the narration from his sister it shows us how everyone else is feeling. It shows us what effects of Chris leaving has had on the family. The final technique, probably the most important one, is the use of flashbacks. Penn begins the film with McCandless finally reaching Alaska after his journey across the country comes to and end.
The idea that somebodies perspective on belonging can be shaped through new relationships and events is shown though this technique. Every flashback shows McCandless either coming across new characters, new places or experiencing new things. These all shape McCandless’s perspective on belonging. An example of this is when McCandless is talking to Ron after they had just walked up the steep, rocky hill. Ron tell Chris that he will miss him when he has gone, but Chris just replies saying that “you are wrong if you think that the joy of life comes principally from the joy of human relationships. Ron then gives Chris very wise words stating, “When you forgive, you love. And when you love, God’s light shines through you. ” McCandless has many other encounters with people who also teach him valuable lessons in life, and by the end of the film, McCandless is left realising that ‘happiness is only real when shared’ rather than thinking that the only way to be happy was to be isolated and alienated from the materialistic society. 3 – Many new ideas about belonging have aroused from ‘Into the Wild’.
It is often very hard to find a place to belong, as is the case with McCandless, he meets many different groups and communities but can never find a place where he feels he actually belongs. Belonging isn’t necessarily being apart of a community that shares similar beliefs and ethics, someone may actually find that they belong when they are by themselves or/and indulged in the serenity of nature. Society is built up of laws and rules, meaning the only way to belong are to conform and respect those rules even if you do not entirely think they are right.
McCandless finally has enough of obeying the rules that are set out to keep everyone in line. Another key point that is brought through ‘Into the wild’ is that peoples perspective of belonging can change due to certain events, when McCandless first decides to leave his old life behind him he had no intentions of forming friendships with other people, all he wanted to do was get away from society. Over time he began to change his view on society and realized that being alone and isolated isn’t actually what he wanted.
But that ‘happiness is only real when shared’, so this is basically saying that he finally understood that he didn’t want to be locked away from the world and that he was only really happy when he helped make his friends happy. 4 – ‘Into the Wild’ can relate to The Crucible through the ideas established about belonging. Chris McCandless can be looked at along side John Proctor in the way that they both choose not to conform to society and both their lives are cut shot due to this.
McCandless does not wish to live as everyone else does, he does not want to be a clone to society, all he wants if freedom to do what he wants but his life comes to an early end due to this because he preferred to live in the Alaskan wild instead of living in a stable environment at the comfort of his own bed. Proctor was also a wise, ethical man yet he did not completely agree with the way things were being run in Salem. He could have very easily taken the easy way out and conform to the Ministry’s orders to save his life but he instead chooses to do what he knows is right.
Another way that these two texts relate is through the idea that ones perspective one belonging can be created and/or changed due to certain events. Chris begins his journey believing the only way he can belong and be happy is to be secluded from the world around him, living disconnected from people in the wild life. But after his many encounter with people he slowly beginning to realise that he can only be happy when helping to create happiness for others. This is similar to Hale in ‘The Crucible’.
The story begins with him who believes that the church is always ethical and correct. The church is like his home to him, it is where he belongs. As the story progresses he begins to realise that watch is happening is wrong and yet due to the power of the ministry he has no way to prevent the events that unfold. This drastically changes his perspective on the church and the faith he has believed in for so long, he realises that maybe after all, the church is not where he belongs. Nick Slaven