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Into Thin Air

Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas Key Facts

full title Into Thin Air

author Jon Krakauer

type of work Novel

genre Nonfiction, adventure

language English

time and place written Excerpts written in 1996 on Mount Everest, the rest written in Seattle Washington, 1996.

date of first publication 1997

publisher Doubleday

narrator Jon Krakauer, who is also the author of the novel

point of view Krakauer narrates mostly in the first person, except when describing events that he did not personally witness, in which case he narrates in the third person omniscient. He inserts his own opinions and insights throughout the book, even regarding events he did not personally observe.

tone Krakauer narrates as objectively as possible, while inserting his own doubts and concerns. His tone is predominantly respectful toward the guides and climbers, except the South African and Taiwanese expeditions. Toward the end of the novel, he describes events with a sense of guilt and horror.

tense Past tense

setting (time) Late April through mid-May, 1996.

setting (place) Mount Everest

protagonist Jon Krakauer

major conflict The entire climb is full of conflicts, but the primarily conflict occurs during the descent from the summit.

rising action Climbing from Camp Four to the summit

climax Descending from the summit amid a rising, wicked storm.

falling action Descending from the lower camps down to Base Camp, where all of surviving climbers are out of danger

themes Commercialism, modernization changing the ancient, trust, loyalty, questions that cannot be answered, the luxury and punishment of hindsight

motifs Solitude, self-reliance, arrogance, belief that nature can be conquered or captured, drive and overdrive

symbols Camp (Base Camp, Camp One, Camp Two, Camp Three, and Camp Four), oxygen canisters, ropes

foreshadowing Rob Hall's comment about the inevitability of disaster on Everest, the Sherpas' belief that Sagarmatha, goddess of the sky, was angry, Krakauer's observation that drive and will is both necessary and deadly