February 19, 1996
How is his family doing? Where is the scholarship fund?
Wasn't death the predictable outcome of such naiveté?
Q: I haven't read the book yet, but I'd like to know what exactly intrigued you about Chris's story? Didn't it seem to you, as it did to me, on first uptake, like the predictable end for someone very naive about how much the world/nature is "willing" to break one's fall?
Ronald M. Ulfohn
A: I'm not entirely sure what it is about McCandless' life and death that so captivated me. It had a lot to do, no doubt, with the way his life mirrored important events in my own life when I was his age. But it was much more that that, too. I guess I admire his courage, his resolve, his lofty ideals. I'm in awe of the extent to which he acted on his beliefs and lived out his dreams.
And no, I don't think that Chris's death was predictable or inevitable. Sure, it wasn't a complete surprise, given his recklessness and overconfidence, but I was a lot more reckless and foolish than Chris at that age, and I managed to stay alive. Defying the apparent odds, most kids somehow survive their youthful hubris, their heedlessness, their innocent mistakes--the drugs and drunk driving and unprotected sex and outrageous acts of bravado. Chris McCandless didn't use drugs or drink much or engage in sexual adventure, but he did not lack for bravado. And he happened to be among the minority of audacious kids, sadly, who did not pull though.