ENGL1A Moorpark Into the Wild Movie Relation Between Chris McCandley and His Family Paper

Essay 4 Assignment – Literary Analysis of Into the Wild

A literary essay is like a persuasive essay, in that you are going to form an opinion about something (a work of

literature) and then use evidence to prove your point. The difference is that in this case, most of your evidence is

going to come from the book Into the Wild itself.

The essay must analyze the book. Do not just summarize the plot. This is going to require some thought to form

an opinion and then locate evidence to support that opinion.

Choose one of the following prompts:

1. Choose one theme of Into the Wild. Discuss what the book has to say about that theme, using examples

from the book to prove your point. The most striking themes are:

a. Family. Sample thesis: Into the Wild shows us that family influences every individual, for good

or bad, and those influences are impossible to escape

b. Personal freedom. Sample thesis: Like Chris McCandless, each individual must weigh personal

freedom against responsibility to others.

c. Self-reliance: Sample thesis: As Chris McCandless discovered, it is ultimately impossible for any

human being to be completely self-reliant

2. Read the chapter “Where I Lived and What I Lived For” from Thoreau’s Walden and analyze Chris

McCandless’ journeys and ideals in light of Thoreau’s philosophy. To what extent does McCandless live

up to the ideals of Transcendentalism?

3. Compare Into the Wild to one other book you have read that includes similar themes. Don’t just list

superficial similarities or differences (“Both men were young and spent a lot of time in the outdoors”);

instead, delve into psychology, motives, and meaning of their experiences. For example,

a. Hamlet (theme: family) What is the protagonist’s tragic flaw?

b. Huckleberry Finn (theme: personal freedom vs. responsibility to others) Both stories involve

young men going on journeys where they learn who they are and what they believe in.

c. The Alchemist. (theme: finding oneself) Again, a young man on a journey of self-discovery.

4. Some critics have argued that Chris McCandless was mentally ill. Read Craig Medred’s article here:

http://www.farnorthscience.com/2007/10/13/media-wa… (also

posted on Canvas) Research the symptoms of a specific mental illness, then write a paper agreeing or

disagreeing with this theory. You must use specific examples from the book and tie them to specific



 The essay must be in correct MLA format.

 The finished essay should be about 1,000 words (3 to 4 pages) in length. No more than about half a page

should be devoted to summarizing the plot; most of the paper must consist of your analysis of the book.

 Create a clear, strong, argumentative thesis; pay attention to constructing well-developed paragraphs.

 Remember, whenever you write about something that Chris McCandless said, thought, or did, you need to

cite your source – on what page in the book did the information appear?

 You can quote (and cite) credible reviews, other books mentioned in Into the Wild, and other sources as

suggested above.

 You must include a Works Cited page, even if Into the Wild is your only source.

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