Into the Wild

by: Jon Krakauer

Samuel Walter “Walt” McCandless

Characters Samuel Walter “Walt” McCandless

Christopher McCandless’s father, Walt McCandless, consults with NASA and other science organizations on satellite design and other advanced topics, including jet propulsion or rocket science. He encountered early career success and promotion and carries himself with authority even in moments of extreme emotional duress. Cerebral, authoritative, and driven, Walt McCandless condemns his son’s behavior while insisting that he also loved to spend time with Christopher. In addition to his two children with his wife, Billie McCandless, Walt also has four children by a previous marriage to his first wife, Marcia. One of Walt and Marcia’s children was born after Christopher, a fact Walt, Billie, and Marcia kept hidden from Christopher and his sister for years. Walt McCandless’s character thus offers the narrator one important, implicit justification for Christopher McCandless’s journey into the wild. Christopher’s discontent with his father and his anger at a lifetime of lies may have pushed him away from people entirely. Krakauer’s depiction of Walt as stern, strong-jawed, and aloof only reinforces this proposition.