Jon Krakauer's Use Of Ethos, Logos And Pathos When Writting Into The Wild

1244 words - 5 pages

Into the Wild by John Krakauer is a rare book in which its author freely admits his bias within the first few pages. “I won't claim to be an impartial biographer,” states Krakauer in the author’s note, and indeed he is not. Although it is not revealed in the author's note whether Krakauer's bias will be positive or negative, it can be easily inferred. Krakauer's explanation of his obsession with McCandless's story makes it evident that Into the Wild was written to persuade the reader to view him as the author does; as remarkably intelligent, driven, and spirited. This differs greatly from the opinion many people hold that McCandless was a simply a foolhardy kid in way over his head. Some even go as far as saying that his recklessness was due to an apparent death-wish. Krakauer uses a combination of ethos, logos and pathos throughout his rendition of McCandless’s story to dispute these negative outlooks while also giving readers new to this enigmatic adventure a proper introduction.
An essential part of Krakauer's argument rests upon convincing the reader that he has the authority to accurately interpret the facts of McCandless’s life. His attempt begins in chapter fourteen, where his main focus is explaining why he thinks McCandless did not go to Alaska seeking death. Krakauer establishes his credibility by drawing upon his own experiences and comparing them to McCandless’s. “If something captured my undisciplined imagination, I pursued it with a zeal bordering on obsession...” (134). This passion, he believes, is the same feeling McCandless felt while traveling across the country. At age 23, only a year younger than McCandless at the time he went to Alaska, Krakauer's preferred thrill was mountain climbing (135). During chapter fourteen, he launches into a personal narrative, also set in Alaska, about two climbs full of unbridled enthusiasm, perseverance, and most importantly, an unwillingness to think about the possibility of death (151). This account contains elements familiar to the reader because they also appear frequently in McCandless's story. The familiarity continues when Krakauer gives a depiction of his own father. “My father was a volatile, extremely complicated person, possessed of a brash demeanor that masked deep insecurities,” all characteristics that could apply to Walt McCandless as well. (147). Krakauer uses this evidence as justification that he and McCandless were cut from a similar cloth and therefore, has a fair inclination of what McCandless was going through. To be considered a successful effort at creating credibility, the reader needs to believe Krakauer's connections are enough to support that conclusion. That can be difficult for some readers who see Krakauer's inclusion of these links in the book as just more evidence of his infatuation with McCandless.
Logos, or logic appeal, is the most concrete part of Krakauer's argument, shedding light on both McCandless's personality and the disputed cause of his...

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