Into the Wild | Study Guide

Jon Krakauer

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Into the Wild | Chapter 13 : Virginia Beach | Summary



Carine McCandless Fish and her husband, Chris Fish, live in Virginia Beach. Together they own and operate a successful business that allows them to live an affluent lifestyle. Carine mentions how her brother used to tease her about her fondness for luxury. She still owns Buck, the Shetland sheepdog that Chris used to love to race home. She says that after her husband told her about Sam's phone call with the news that her brother was dead, she collapsed in tears. When they left for her parents' home in Chesapeake Beach, they stopped at their church so she could pray. After her brother's dental records confirmed a positive ID, she and Sam flew to Fairbanks to collect his personal belongings as well as his cremated ashes to bring to her parents. A month later when Krakauer is visiting Walt and Billie in Chesapeake Beach, Billie cries as she sorts through photographs of her son and comments, "I just don't know why he had to take those kinds of chances."


The author introduces this chapter with a quotation by John Haines, a wilderness nomad and writer. The quotation emphasizes how the outer world of nature and Haines's inner world reflect one another. "In time," he says, "the two became one in my mind." He longs "to take the trail and not look back ... Let the rest of mankind find me if it could." Again, these words could have been written about McCandless. Quotations like this one provide a larger context in which McCandless's behavior may be understood as part of a kind of brotherhood of young men yearning for a more intense, meaningful existence through their experience of the wilderness.

Finally, after more than two years of worrying and wondering what had happened to their son and brother, Walt, Billie, and Carine found out what happened to Chris. Carine offers a little more perspective to Krakauer on their relationship with their parents. Like her brother, she was irritated by her parents' controlling ways, but she made peace with them by the time he disappeared and now enjoys a warm relationship with them. She offers the information that Chris would write to her about his volatile relationship with their parents because he considered her the "only person in the world who could possibly understand" him. She doesn't say whether he ever told her about what he discovered about their father's continued involvement with Marcia, and she doesn't offer any clarity about this climactic moment that irrevocably changed all of their lives. Neither Billie nor Walt mention it either.

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