Kakos' 6th Hour

Reactions and comments from my sixth hour Honors American Literature class.


My favorite place in the world to be is underwater. My second favorite place is the front of a classroom.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Into the Wild

Would Emerson and Thoreau find Chris McCandless to be a worthy transcendentalist? Why or why not? Please cite at least one passage from your transcendentalist reading in your response ("Nature," "Walden," or "Self-Reliance"). Do you think his actions were noble? Foolish? Is there anything to be admired or reprehended in Chris McCandless? Be sure to read the other blogs before posting your response so that you avoid repetition and so that you can comment on others' posts.


Blogger corey c said...

I think that Emerson and Thoreau would find Chris McCandless a very worthy transcedentalist. Emerson talked about finding inner peace in "Self Reliance" when he wrote, "A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise, shall give him no peace."(Emerson 225) Chris put his heart into finding his inner peace, this is what Emerson and Thoreau revere. I do think that Chris McClandess had a noble purpose in what he did. Although i think he should have kept better contact with his family he was noble in giving himself up to find peace. He found that the material things of the world do not really matter, what happens inside the heart is what is really most important. Chris learned to ignore the world and focus on what really matters.

"Learning to ignore things is one of the great paths to inner peace." -Robert J. Sawyer
Robert J. Sawyer

9:23 AM  
Blogger Tori S said...

I also think that they would agree that Chris could be a worthy transcendentalist. Leaving his house and taking off was a bit foolish and he maybe didn't hande it in the best way possible but he did what he did because he wanted to find himself. Sometimes it is hard to speak about what is actually going on inside of yourself so it seems that he let his actions speak louder than his words. "To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men"(Emerson). It was important for him to do this because it made him stronger inside and even though he died it made him a transcendentalist.

3:21 PM  
Blogger matt l said...

I believe that Emerson and Thoreau would find Chris McCandless to be a transcendentalist. Chris did rise above society's views, and did what he thought noble. He abondoned the success that he had and simply started a new life. I respect the idea of leaving society to start a new life, but Chris didn't really do that. He thought he was proving to others that he could survive in the wild. However, he only proved that he was unintelligent. Chris was not prepared for life in "the wild" whatsoever. He didn't even know what kinds of things to eat, and this came back to haunt him in the end. He wanted to leave his previous life becasue he did not appreciate the things society and culture said were right. This I understand. But, by just going off into the wild without any supplies Chris was kind of inviting death. Chris didn't consider the affect he would have on his family or friends. Chris' intentions were virtuous, but his actions were irrational, and he sort of got what he had coming. At the end of the story, Emerson says, "To be great is to be misunderstood..." (225). In a way, Chris was great by having the determination to follow through with his dreams. Without a doubt, though, Chris was misunderstood by society.

4:15 PM  
Blogger Thomas_N said...

I believe that they would have found Chris McCandless to be a transcendentalist. He rose above society's way of life and eventually found peace in himself. Thoreau says, "Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience then?"(Thoreau)McCandless was able to think for himself and he did what he wanted, but this does not mean he should be admired. His actions did not help anyone else and the only reason for his trip to Alaska was just to help himself. I don't think that his actions were noble because not only did he put himself in physical danger but he put his family and friends in a physological type of danger.

7:29 PM  
Blogger Andie R said...

No, I do not think they would have found him to be a worthy transcendentalist. As Emerson writes, "There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide..." The man who wrote the book on Chris expressed his belief that Chris may have gone to the wild in order to be like his idol, Jack London. If Chris did want to be like Jack London, then he is merely imitating another person, which Emerson denounces as suicide. It ends just like Emerson predicted, with Chris dying. It is suicide in the sense that he put in motion the events which prevented him from being rescued or getting medical treatment. I'm not saying that imitating Jack London was his greatest motive, but I do think it contributed. I think his main motive was to prove to himself that he could survive. At 24, I still consider him to be within the age group that sees themselves as invincible and does not think death can happen to themselves. I think what Chris did was arrogant, naive, stupid, and harmful; he should have at least prepared properly. He did not know what he was getting himself into. Perhaps if he had prepared properly (by taking supplies and a map, researching survival techniques, like proper food gathering, and telling his parents where he was going)and not been so hasty in his haphazard trip, he would have proved himself and earned himself the right to be a transcendentalist. Not every person who wanders randomly off into the wilderness to "find themselves" is a transcendentalist.

7:58 PM  
Blogger Logan J said...

I think that Emmerson would consider him a transcendentalist because he left his material life in the heart of civilization for a deeply satisfying life in the wilderness. In doing so he created a deep bond with nature.

"Most persons do not see the sun. AT least they have a very superficial seeing. The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye of the heart of the child" (Emerson).

Through his journey he developed a fulfilling relationship with the sun, and other things found in nature.

8:02 PM  
Blogger brian k said...

I believe that Emerson would have found Chris to be a worthy transcendentalist. No one really understands why Chris did what he did. They have guessed and discussed the topic ruthlessly but no one really can be sure. Emerson ends Self Reliance with the quote, "to be great is to be misunderstood..." Chris's actions were misunderstood and therefore I'm sure Emerson would have deemed him great.

Also, I think his actions were noble. Most of us have a dream to change to world but never act on it. Chris acted upon his dream and made everyone stop and think about why he did what he did.

8:41 PM  
Blogger LindsayS said...

I also agree that Emerson would see Chris as a transcendentalist. Chris did what he did to get away from the "normal, predicable” life style and to prove to people that he could survive on his own. This is proven as a character of a transcendentalist in the quote Emerson uses to start Nature, “To go into solitude, a man needs to retire as much from his chamber as from society” (Emerson). Chris left what he knew and removed himself from society to find himself and some sort of peace.

9:15 PM  

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