Authors Name: 
Wyatt Merkley
University: 
Western University
Category: 
Literature
Highly commended

Literary Amplification: Jon Krakauer's Use of Intertextual References in Into the Wild and Their Role in The McCandless Phenomenon

After he was found dead in the Alaskan wilderness, Chris McCandless, the subject of Jon Krakauer's novel Into the Wild, has become a household name, the subject of near-religious devotion to many readers, and a source of hateful derision to many others. This process has taken place because of an effect this paper refers to as “Literary Amplification”; Krakauer's situating himself (as a first person narrator) and Chris McCandless, among canonical literary giants like Henry David Thoreau, Herman Melville, and Jack London. Krakauer accomplishes this through carefully chosen epigraphs and quotations from these authors, and the effect is a mythologization of the stories depicted in Into the Wild, both McCandless' and Krakauer's .