Supertramp’s Death is Krakauer’s Life (G-Block)


While reading INTO THE WILD, one is all but bound to come to the realization that Jon Krakauer takes extreme interest in his subject. After all, not only does Krakauer paint McCandless as an idealist who actually followed his dreams, but he also draws parallels between their lives. For better or worse, the author does very little to obfuscate his bias.

However, we must ask ourselves whether Krakauer’s interest is more appropriately labeled fascination or obsession. To do this, we are going to read an article about Chris McCandless that he published just last month (September 2013)!

Click the link!


THE TASKFirst, read the Krakauer article that was published in the New Yorker just last month (click here to access the piece). Then, respond to the following prompts by using the “Leave a Reply” feature at the bottom of the page. For full credit, your responses must consist of complete sentences and demonstrate active engagement.

A) In your own words, summarize the main point Krakauer is trying to express with the article.

B) Who is Hamilton? Why does Krakauer write about him? What do you think of this individual’s qualifications and/or his findings?

C) Does this article have any impact on your opinion of McCandless? Why or why not?

D) What do you think of the fact that Krakauer wrote this article about seventeen years after INTO THE WILD was first published? What does this suggest about his personality?

25 thoughts on “Supertramp’s Death is Krakauer’s Life (G-Block)

  1. A) Krakauer, in this article, tells the readers that they may have found an exact cause of death for Chris McCandless. There was a poisonous toxin the wild potato seeds he was eating and this caused him to not be able to eat and he starved to death.
    B) Hamilton is the writer that figured out that the toxin ODAP was responsible for Chris’s death. Krakauer writes about him because he found something relating to Chris, Krakauer’s god. It’s really interesting that he managed to figure this out, but I find it a bit strange that twenty years later, they’re still looking into it. Also, Hamilton was a writer and still figured it out better than the scientists and doctors, and that is a bit suspicious.
    C) This didn’t really change my opinion of Chris. I love Chris and I think what he did was awesome and I never believed he wanted to kill himself. This backs that up and just adds to the story.
    D) I think Krakauer worships Chris and is very obsessive about the whole story. Yes, the story is really interesting and I’m glad it was told, but krakauer just needs to let it be. He didn’t know him and he’s gone now and he needs to get over that.

  2. A. Krakauer throughout the write up, explains how McCandless was in very need of help. The note explained particularly said “. I AM INJURED, NEAR DEATH, AND TOO WEAK TO HIKE OUT OF HERE.”, which explained how badly he needed help. Chris knew that he needed someone to come or his hopes of living would be demolished because he wasn’t strong enough to go get food to save himself. McCandless made a fair choice of traveling out in the wild with a great risk.

    B. Hamilton was a writer who posted a paper on the internet about McCandless death to give new facts that were unknown before the article was written. Hamilton showed that the reason why he died wasn’t the seeds, it was the type of toxin within the seeds. The “Fault Potato” that McCandless talks about being contributed to his weakness was right. I think that this is a very good find, because many critics say how he died from starvation, but really it was from the toxins.

    C. This article changed my mind a little bit about McCandless. I believe that he could have stayed alive if it was for the toxin. If he was able to stay alive, I wouldn’t have been so judgmental about how he lived in the wild and what he was doing out there. As much as I think he wanted attention, he still could have stayed alive which changed my view on him.

    D. I believe that Krakauer is always trying to back McCandless up. Krakauer hates the critics and still wanted to prove them wrong. Many people think that they knew McCandless wasn’t going to live. Instead of letting the critics be, Krakauer found evidence and wanted to change the critics mind, because for whatever peoples views are on a dead man, Krakauer took as an insult.

  3. A. Krakauer is trying to prove his point that McCandles wasn’t unprepared or ignorant. With this article he is supporting his idea that the potato plant is what actually killed him.

    B. Hamilton was a doctor who read Into The Wild and became interested in the reasoning behind Chris’s death. After reading the book the idea that Chris had lathyrism immediately popped into his head. Krakauer writes about him to show more evidence that Mccandles wasn’t just another stupid person adventuring into Alaska. It was basically a more educated theory behind McCandles death that proved all the pessimists wrong. I think Hamilton’s findings seem to be relatively accurate, however I’m not quite sure I trust his qualifications. He developed the idea all on his own research.

    C. Honestly the article didn’t have that much of an impact on my views on McCandles. I still think he was given more credit than he should have been given. I originally understood that McCandles died due to unknown information of plants so I think that this article was just reiterating that.

    D. I think Krakauer is overly obsessed with the McCandles story. It’s seventeen years later and he’s still trying to figure out what happen to this man. I also think that Krakauer hated the idea of people criticizing the man he worshiped. He went over the top to try to persuade people that McCandles was a hero.

  4. A) Krakauer explains that he received letters supporting his book and letters that claimed he made an “idiot” into a celebrity that should be sympathized. He explains throughout the article the facts behind McCandless’s death, mainly the seeds, and that there were many researchers at multiple colleges working on what was in the seed that causes death.

    B) Hamilton worked as a book binder at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and is now a writer. He became familiar with the McCandless story in 2002, after reading Into the Wild he claimed that the main cause of McCandless’s death was ODAP.

    C) This story does change the way I view McCandless because knowing that he was trying to find help to survive and find food to eat displayed how he was trying to get back into society and that he realized it was a mistake going into Alaska. When reading the book, my opinion fluctuated because during some chapters I thought it was interesting what he was trying to do for himself but in other chapters I thought some of his actions, like burning money, not accepting gifts or advice from people trying to help, showed that he was narrow minded that eventually ended in death for him.

    D) I think Krakauer was trying to give people a deeper view into how McCandless died. In the book, it explains how Chris walked into the wild due to personal problems, and then started struggling when he realized how difficult to live out there and ended up dying after eating a poisonous seed, due to the fact that he was starving to death since he did not have enough materials. This article shows the letters Chris wrote seeking help admitting that he was too weak to save himself, it also shows that he was trying to help himself by finding new foods to eat. Writing this article shows that Krakauer enjoyed writing about Chris McCandless but I also think it was written to defend his book since it was getting bad reviews from many due to the fact that he was trying to display Chris in a sympathetic light, almost as a celebrity.

  5. A) To me he is trying to prove that Chris wasn’t just some other idiot trying to “find himself” in Alaska and ended up dying because of his own. He tries to tell those who have doubted Chris and criticized him for writing the book that it wasn’t really Chris’s fault that he had died from starvation and that people shouldn’t be so quick to judge him because he died doing the same way many others have.

    B) Hamilton was a writer and reader who’s first suspicion came from a book that he had once read. From there he decided that he wanted to study the toxin further and got help from those in the scientific community and went on to write “The Silent Fire: ODAP and the Death of Christopher McCandless,” trying, I think, to inform those who questioned how Chris died. I think it was good that he didn’t just jump to conclusions and say things he wasn’t qualified to. He researched and got help from those more qualified than him to discover what had happened and then he wrote his word based off of the findings.

    C) For me personally it doesn’t. Mainly because I never thought of McCandless as someone who would end up either killing himself or being dumb enough to get himself killed be a plant. For others, though, I think people may realized that he wasn’t just some fool and that it was more of an accident. But, some people will probably stick to thinking he was just an idiot glorifying himself.

    D) I think that Krakauer just didn’t have enough evidence to firmly support what he though happened to Chris and either wanted to just leave things as they were with his book or was trying to figure them out as time went on. To me I’d like to think that Krakauer was trying to make sure that his findings and ideas were correct before publishing them, but it’s hard to know for sure.

  6. A) In this article, Krakauer talks about the death of Chris McCandless and how it relates to the seeds of the potato plant. He is trying to show that Chris did not cause his death on purpose, and it was not some stupid mistake he made that caused him to die. It was a mistake any man would make.
    B) Hamilton is an author who wrote about what he believed caused the death of Chris. Krakauer really liked Hamilton’s article because it showed that it was not a stupid mistake that caused Chris’s death. I believe what he wrote is correct and really did cause Chris to die.
    C) This article did not have an impact on my thoughts of Chris McCandless because it was mostly facts about his death. I already knew that his death was not a stupid mistake that Chris made, it was an honest mistake that anyone would have made. I still like Chris and think he is somewhat crazy for what he did.
    D) I believe Krakauer might be a bit obsessed with Chris. Into the Wild was a very good, well written book, but he wrote that seventeen years ago and is still writing and thinking a lot about Chris. He knows everything about him by now, and he should probably move on to a different story.

  7. a) The main point of Krakauer’s article was to verify how Chris McCandless died. Many people believe that his death was because he was unprepared, and too proud to receive help. However, through this article, it is proven that McCandless consumed toxic seeds. Krakauer had numerous seeds from around the area tested, and the ones he could have eaten contain ODAP, which led to his death.

    b) Hamilton published the paper “The Silent Fire: ODAP and the Death of Christopher McCandless,” His essays offered reasons why McCandless died, including the most promising, ODAP theory. After reading “Into the Wild”, Hamilton realized that McCandless probably consumed ODAP, which he was familiar with from the German Camp Vapniarca. Hamilton recounted the toll ODAP takes on people, and strongly compared it to McCandless’s death.

    c) The article changes my opinion on McCandless. At first, I thought that McCandless was unprepared to live in the wilderness, and that he was unable to get his own food, or listen to how to determine good seeds from bad. After reading the article, I believe that if McCandless had knowledge of ODAP he would have survived, and he was not as unprepared as I had believed.

    d) The fact that Krakauer published this article seventeen years later tells that he is fascinated by McCandless. Krakauer could never learn enough about McCandless, and he wants to answer all of his unanswered questions.

  8. A) Krakauer is trying to express that it was not necessarily McCandless’s fault that he died of starvation out in the Alaskan wilderness. Krakauer tries to explain how the poisonous seeds were the factor in causing Chris to starve to death. Krakauer said that it was not arrogance that led to his demise, it was ignorance. Chris’s ignorance about the surrounding wildlife, confusing one plant with another, was the cause of his starvation. Krakauer feels that if Chris was not ignorant, he would have walked out of the wilderness just as he walked in, that being perfectly fine

    B)Hamilton is a writer that wrote a paper involving the method of Chris’s death.He talk about ODAP, which is the poison that led to the starvation of Chis. He called it the silent fire because it burns you up from the inside out until you die. I think that Krakauer writes about him because it is all together possible that this was the cause of Chris’s death. Hamilton’s explanation of how Chris could have from ODAP very highly supports the theories behind McCandless’s death. This definitely intrigued Krakauer. I think that Hamilton is extremely qualified and to me, as to Krakauer, these findings make a lot of sense. Poisonous seeds could have been the cause of Chris’s starvation and death. There is a lot of evidence to back up his beliefs.

    C) I do feel a little bit different about McCandless now. Before i was set on the fact that Chris was pretty stupid to go out into the woods by himself with minimal supplies. That whole idea was just plain stupid in my book. After reading some scientific back up on how McCandless died, my opinion on McCandless has changed a little bit. I am a strong believer in sciences, so if there is any scientific proof behind a topic within reason, then i am sure to believe it. The evidence shown in this article strongly suggests that Chris died from poison of a plant’s seeds.

    D) I think it is incredible that Krakauer is still writing about Chris’s journey and demise in the wild. It amazes me that he is still so interested in Chris that he continues to write about it seventeen years later. If I were Krakauer, I would have still wanted to know exactly how Chris died, but i feel like i would have accepted that maybe no one will ever know, and that’s just the way it was meant to be. This suggests that Krakauer must know everything there is to know about something or he will crazy. He seems as though if he doesn’t know every little detail about something, then he has to find what they are or he will be completely unsatisfied with not knowing. Krakauer feels that he must know how Chris died or he will never be satisfied with his life and his works as a writer.

  9. A) Krakauer was simply updating how he came to the new conclusion of the cause of McCandless’ death. He concluded that the best culprit was a neurotoxin ODAT, that was also present in the many seeds that Chris had ingested. This was most damaging to people that were in the exact condition of McCandless- young males with a caloric deficit and a physically taxing lifestyle. This inidentified danger proved McCandless innocent in his demise, because it took the latest technology today to find what had harmed him.
    B) Hamilton was a reader of Into the Wild that immediately linked Chris’ mysterious death to the toxin ODAP. He nicknamed ODAP the silent fire because it fries your nervous system from the inside in a subtle manner causing lethargy. and cripples you until death.
    C) This article does not change my opinion about McCandless at all. From the explanation in the book, Krakauer had already made it clear that McCandless could not have possibly ben able to identify a poorly researched toxin in the seeds. All this article does is give McCandless’ murderer a different chemical name.
    D)I think the fact that Krakauer devoted this much of his life and effort to solving McCandless’ life is lunacy. It makes me think that Krakauer sees alot of himself in McCandless, and could be the reason for his enthusiasm. Another possible reason is a constant desire to obtain the truth for the people praising McCandless as well as prove his critics wrong.

  10. A. Krakauer was trying to relay the message that McCandless was not just some arrogant idiot who entered the wild, even though that is how some Alaskans perceived him. By confirming that McCandless was poisoned by the potato seed; despite reading about it, lets readers know the Chris was well read about Alaska and would have been able to leave if he did not consume the seed.
    B, Hamilton is a writer that discovered new evidence that proves potato seeds are in fact poisonous. Krakauer writes that through Hamilton’s knowledge of Vapniarca he knew the poisonous aspect of the potato seed through the grass seed fed to those in concentration camps. I find his findings interesting in the sense that it helps shed light on Chris’s death .
    C. It does not change my opinions on McCandless, I find him a fascinating and frustrating human being, because I enjoy some of his ideas and others leave me puzzled.
    D. Krakauer can just not let go of this story. Hes a bit obsessed; and to be quite honest I am sick of hearing him ramble on about himself. Krakauer loves attention, and writing the article so many years later proves that he enjoys the attention that Into the Wild brought him.

  11. A) The main point that Krakauer is trying to express is that Chris was not as stupid and unprepared like many people often thought he was. McCandless was prepared and knew what he was doing. Krakauer is trying to verify that Chris’s death was caused by toxic seeds. He makes it a point to give background information of all the different seeds to truly show that eating the toxic seed was an easy mistake that anyone could make out in the wild.

    B) Hamilton is a doctor who made a very important discovery in the death of McCandless. He wrote an essay on “The Silent Fire: ODAP and the Death of Christopher McCandless, that caught the eye of Krakauer. Krakauer wrote about him because his findings were new evidence for the case. Also, Hamiltons theory validated Krakauers theory of the death. His qualifications where not that amazing but his findings were spot on and helped in the discovery.

    C) After reading the article, My opinion on McCandless was the same. I think he was a very intelligent young man and his short life is very sad. This story does make me sad because if only he did not eat the seeds he would have walked out of the wild a true hero with the most amazing stories. Knowing that he delt with becoming paralysis towards the end of his life reminded me of how strong of a person he was.

    D) I think Krakauer is obsessed with the story of Chris McCandless as well as jealous. Seeing as he is still writing about 17 years later suggests he can not stop thinking about the story. It shows that he does not give up on anything and is always looking for new answers. I do believe that the book shows almost a sort of jealousy towards McCandless and the journey he took. The article shows his never give up personality and his drive to always keep trying.

  12. Krakauer’s main point in his article on how Chris had died, if it was from starvation or the potato seeds, a theory he made up due to one of Chris’s entries on how he was slowly dying because of the seeds. As it turns out, Chris did die from the seeds, but they were not poisonous, they caused him paralysis, therefore he was not able to get up and hunt for food, thus dying from starvation.

    Hamilton was a writer who wrote an online paper on Chris’s death. This had caught Krakauer’s attention since he was researching Chris’s death at the time. Hamilton’s essay stated that the potato seed was poisonous and thus lead to his death. I believe that, even though his essay was persuasive, that Krakauer should not have believed everything Hamilton’s paper said, since he was not a scientist, just a writer.

    This finding has no effect on my view on Chris. I believe that what he had done was brave, even though at certain points I think that he could have taken different options and not try to rely entirely on the land.

    I believe that Krakauer is obsessed with Chris and would not rest until he got the answers he needed relating to Chris’s death. In my opinion, I believe that Krakauer should have let the story be.

  13. A. Krakauer is trying to dissprove the many who said McCandless was just another unprepared and unintellegent youth who wandered into the wild. According to popular belief, McCandless died of starvation. Krakauer introduces another theory that McCandless actually died from poisoness potato seeds.

    B. Hamilton is an essayist who wrote about McCandless. Hamilton found evidence that the wild-potato plant is very toxic and was likely the main cause of McCandless’s death. Krakauer uses Hamilton’s evidence to support his theory of McCandless’s death. Hamilton’s findings are admirable. He may not have been the first to discover that McCandless’s death was caused by the potato plant, but he found new evidence to support this theory.

    C. This article dissuades the reader from believing that McCandless was just another unprepared person who failed to survive in the wild. However, my opinion remains the same. I am indifferent about McCandless. I find him interesting, but I also find him extremely selfish. However, I do not believe he was just another unprepared person who failed to survive in the wild. I believe he followed his heart and did just what he wanted to do. He was aware of the consequences, but not afraid. This is a part of his personality that is admirable.

    D. Krakauer wrote this article seventeen years after Into The Wild was published because he wants advertisement for his book. He loves the attention he recieved from the book and wants this article to solicit more fans. Krakauer is conceited and selfish.

  14. 1) I think the point that Krakauer is trying to express with this article is that the death of Chris McCandles was not because he was unprepared, but was because he ate toxic seeds causing him to contract ODAP poisoning.
    2)Hamilton is a writer who published “The Silent Fire: ODAP and the Death of Christopher McCandless” on a website that publishes essays and papers about Chris McCandles. Krakauer came across his essay which offered persuasive new evidence that the wild-potato plant is highly toxic in and of itself. Hamilton is not a chemist or botantist, but Krakauer writes about him because it helps prove his point. However, he is a writer who is able to prove this theory through knowledge he has of the concentration camp Viacampra, where a similar problem occurred.
    3)This article does have an impact on my opinion of McCandles because know that I have read and seen actual evidence to prove that this is the way he died I have more respect for him and his choice to go into the wild.
    4)I think that Krakauer still felt the need to write this article seventeen years after the book was published because there was still many things that were being questioned about his book and needed to be proved. By providing evidence and summarizing all the research he has found, he is giving readers a final explanation that I bet many people wanted. This shows that Krakauer is focused on what everyone is saying about his book and that he was not going to let it go until he had enough evidence to prove the truth.

  15. Krakauer’s main point in this article is that Chris McCandless did not, in fact, die from any of the previously guessed causes of death (swainsonine, wild sweet pea, being mentally unbalanced or suicidal) but from an amino acid in the potato seeds called ODAP. It basically shuts down nerves in the legs and causes weakness and eventually paralysis. It doesn’t get better. Krakauer wanted to be sure that no one is misinformed about this death that is so important to him. He wants people to know that Chris died from a cause not to be discovered for decades.

    Hamilton is an internet writer who works in a book store. He has no chemistry or botany experience and came up with his conjecture through previous readings on a little known concentration camp in the Ukraine from World War 2. Even though he isn’t a chemist, Hamilton did research on this circumstance and came to some convincing conclusions. What he found matches Chris’s story. He may not be overly qualified but I think there is some credibility to what he’s saying.

    Well, my opinion is not very much changed at all. In either case, Chris died in the wilderness, doing what he loved, and making a mistake that could hardly be avoided by being more careful, but was simply him eating the wrong thing at the wrong time. No one really knew that the potato seeds could be poisonous in the first place. So, I don’t know, I think I’m reassured a little bit but I still think Chris was just as radical a guy, extreme in positive ways and negative ways. He’s still messed up and still kind of inspiring. I don’t really care that much how he died.

    Krakauer does not give up. It’s admirable how devoted he is and how much he can lose himself in a story (a real life, but a story nonetheless.) You can also tell that Krakauer is obsessed… very obsessed.

  16. A) Krakauer is trying to express the fact that there is new evidence that supports his theory about the cause of McCandless’s death (potato seeds, which was what was written in McCandless’s journal), and is hoping to change some minds about people who see McCandless in a negative light.

    B) Hamilton is a writer, who (as stated in the article) “has discovered hitherto unknown evidence that appears to close the book on the cause of McCandless’s death”. Krakauer is most likely writing about him because his (Hamilton’s) paper supports Krakauer’s idea regarding the death of Chistopher McCandless (“His theory validates my conviction that McCandless wasn’t as clueless and incompetent as his detractors have made him out to be…..”). I have some doubts about Hamilton, mostly due to the facts that Krakauer is biased, and Hamilton is writer (“”neither a botanist nor a chemist”).

    C) This article didn’t have an impact my opinion on McCandless. I don’t think of him as an unconventional and innovative hero (like Krakauer does) or an overconfident and unprepared idiot (like a few people featured in “Into the Wild” did). I think that there’s evidence that supports both arguments (or maybe every side is wrong here and he’s none of these things), and, as a result, I don’t really feel too strongly about this.

    D) I think that the fact that Krakauer, seventeen years later, is still on this is a little odd, honestly. What is it about McCandless’s story that fascinates him to the point of continuing to argue about it? It’s starting to come off as almost an obssession. Krakauer clearly has a very strong opinion on this, but why? And why is he still trying to prove a point almost two decades later? At this point, I’d think that the debate has died down significantly, and chances are, a lot of people have already moved on.

    1. One more thing that I forgot to mention-why is Krakauer so convinced that McCandless didn’t mistake the seeds that he (McCandless) ate for the poisonous ones? At that point, McCandless would have already been close to starving to death, right? That may have affected his judgment to the point where the seeds he ate were, in fact, the poisonous ones. Or possibly a mixture of both, seeing as they’re very, very similar in appearance, and both species were common in the area (at least if I’m remembering that particularly section of “Into the Wild” correctly).

  17. A) I feel like the main point Krakauer is trying to express with the article is the different theories and background of Chris McCandless’s death. I think he majorly wants to get the point across that the reason Chris died could not have been and probably was not that he was unprepared but rather something that was much more complex. Krakauer goes more in depth and starts talking about all the medical reasons from specific foods that could have ultimately led to starvation. Even though Krakauer was set on the potato seed in his book he goes through all the other possibilities as well after getting more knowledge on the topic.

    B) Ronald Hamilton is a writer that posted an article on line giving new information and closing the case on McCandless’s death. Hamilton’s investigations shows pictures from McCandless’s time in Alaska. Hamilton had an idea that these seeds were the cause of McCandless’s death and his proof supports it. He went back to the pictures and diaries that McCandless had and discovered that the roots of the Hedysarum alpinum plant became a staple of his daily diet and one of his photos depicts a one-gallon Ziploc bag stuffed with these seeds. McCandless also wrote that he was becoming weak because of them. I support Hamilton’s ideas completely.

    C) I appreciate McCandless more than I previously did. It shows a lot of people cared about his journey and he was looked upon very highly. He was smarter than a lot of people gave him credit for and I think intelligence is super important. McCandless tried his hardest to survive and make a life in the wilderness but something that was almost out of his control ended it all for him and i respect him for this. I can sort of see McCandless as a hero figure to others when I could not before.

    D) I think that Krakauer is the type of person that wants to always be right. Clearly he is obsessed with McCandless and even though seventeen years has passed since he wrote Into the Wild he still wants to know more about McCandless. In my opinion he wants to prove that he is just like McCandless but maybe even better. He praises McCandless a lot and talks very highly about him but i feel as though he is only doing this so he can make himself seem ten times better. In the article we just read he talked about how he went and gather seeds from where McCandless had stayed in the bus. He likes to talk about himself to the point where its annoying and excessive

  18. A.) The main point Krakauer is trying express is the way McCandless died. There is a debate on how McCandless actually died, and many people are critical about it. Many people call Chris an idiot for putting himself in this situation, and not knowing about the dangers of eating certain plants. So in this article Krakauer has many different people elaborate on his death. You are able to realize now that it wasn’t McCandless’s fault that he died, and he would be still living today if he didn’t know the potato plant contained a neurotoxin that caused paralysis.

    B.) Hamilton is a writer who posted a paper on the Internet that brought new facts to the debate over McCandless’s death. He found that the potato plant is highly toxic in and of itself, and McCandless wasn’t clueless after all. I think his findings are very valid, as there was even a test that showed that ODAP poisoning was in fact in the plants McCandless ate. I think Krakauer wrote about him to help verify McCandless died not because he was an idiot, but because he had bad luck.

    C.) My opinion on McCandless hasn’t changed due to this article. After reading “Into The Wild”, I will always have respect for Chris, and have never once criticized him being stupid for going into the wild unprepared, and not knowing the dangers. This article just validates that it wasn’t his fault for not knowing the plant contained ODAP.

    D.) I think this shows the passion Krakauer has for McCandless and his story. It also shows that he is a good guy and writing this article to benefit the way Chris is viewed by outsiders, as this article shows there was nothing Chris could have done to save himself in the situation he was in.

  19. A) The thesis of Krakauer’s new article is that Chris McCandless did not die because of his arrogance but instead because of his ignorance. Krakauer also believed that McCandless’s ignorance should be forgiven because not only he but everyone one else in the world was ignorant of the crippling effect of the wild potato seeds that McCandless consumed that eventually, according to Krakauer caused his demise.
    B) Hamilton is a writer who works at the University of Indiana library. Krakauer credits Hamilton with the discovery of the real way McCandless was killed. Hamilton said that McCandless died from Lathyrism, a disease that is caused by the ingestion of the beta-ODAP chemical found in the wild potato seeds. This disease slowly crippled McCandless and forced starvation upon him. I definitely buy into Hamilton’s findings. Although he was not necessarily the most qualified person for the job, he did have a certain passion for the topic after he happened to stumble upon “Into the Wild” after reading about Lathyrism in a chapter of a book on the Nazi concentration camp Vapriarca. The Nazi conducted a cruel experiment on the Jews, feeding them bread made out of the grass pea (which was known to be toxic). The grass pea contained beta-ODAP and caused the Jews to contract Lathyrism. This disease has the greatest effect on people who have been starved and forced to do extreme manual labor. It is also has the greatest affect on Males ages fifteen to twenty-five. Because of these two factors, Chris would have been very likely to contract the disease after consuming beta-ODAP.
    C) Yes, it does. Now knowing that nobody knew that this beta-ODAP chemical was found in the wild potato seeds makes me feel like Chris was a little smarter about his journey. At first I didn’t really believe that he actually vigorously studied the botanist’s book if he did end up dying from a plant, but now that I know that there was no way that the book contained any information about beta-ODAP being found in the wild potato seeds, I can believe that Chris did study that book. And that makes me feel like Chris was prepared, and he did know what he was doing.
    D) I hate to say it, but I think Krakauer probably wrote this article only to draw attention back to his book. Seventeen years after the book was published, it is probably losing a little bit of popularity, so Krakauer probably just wrote this article to get people thinking about the book again, get his name out there again, and to get book sales back up. Krakauer probably wrote this article, in part, to draw suspicions away from the idea that he wrote the book simply to make money, but the timing of this article only makes me believe that idea even more.

  20. a) Krakauer wrote this article to clarify how Alex died from eating a wild plant. As an author, he wants to stand by his book and this is one way of doing so. His book was written in 1997 and new evidence for Chris’s death came out 2004. Instead of writing a new edition, Krakauer chose to write a news article instead.

    b) Hamilton is a writer who stumbled upon Into the Wild and thought he knew how Chris died. While reading a book about Nazi experimentation in concentration camps, he learned about a chemical known as ODAP. The symptoms of ingesting ODAP are nearly identical to the symptoms Chris faced during his last days. Krakauer went on to test the two wild plants that Chris might of eaten for ODAP, and the test turned out positive. Krakauer mentions Hamilton to credit him, because he originally came up with the ODAP theory. I don’t think that Hamilton’s lack of qualifications affect his findings. All Hamilton did was mention that ODAP could’ve been the reason for Chris’s death. All the experiments to prove that ODAP is present in Wild Potato were done by qualified third parties.

    c) I don’t think that this article should affect someone’s opinion on Chris. It was not until the 2000’s that we knew ODAP was found in the food he was eating. There was no way to have known that Wild Potato could cause paralysis. Overall, this article doesn’t change the core facts about Chris’s journey. The fact that it was not a toxin, but an amino acid seems minimal to me.

    d) I see the fact that the article came out 17 years after Into the Wild as a good thing. It shows that Krakauer is dedicated to the subject and wants to get every detail of Alex’s adventure right. Though, I can see the other side of the argument. One might argue that Krakauer is milking the subject for his own financial gain. I like to assume the best of people, though, and believe he is just dedicated subject.

  21. a.) This article explains how Krakauer found out the real root of Chris’s death which was a very harmful toxin trapped in a seed in which Chris consumed. He is trying to get the point across that no, McCandless didn’t kill himself and no, this wasn’t an idiotic choice, how was he supposed to know?

    b.) Hamilton is a well known writer that became familiar with the McCandless’s legacy in the early 2000s and then looked into it a lot more. After reading Into the Wild he came to the conclusion that the main cause of McCandless’s death was ODAP. Krakauer was a fan of this because it backed up his theory by helping to prove it wasn’t on purpose.

    c.) I really loved Chris’s character this doesn’t change my opinion that much, I knew since reading about his death that it wasn’t on purpose and it wasn’t an idiotic choice, how could he have known? I loved his character and how spontaneous and unfearful he is.

    d.) I think Krakauer is just a little obsessed with Chris, he admires him an awful lot and looks into his story far more than any other person in the world. He has a lot of trouble getting over the death of Chris so he grieves by still writing articles 17 years after his death.

  22. A. The main point that Krakauer is trying to express within the article is that Chris McCandless did not in fact die from the way Krakauer believed. In “Into The Wild” Krakauer thought Chris only died from starvation when in fact that was only one of the causes of death. Chris also found out that the plant he was eating so much caused you to become paralyzed and that’s why he couldn’t stand very well. In the end he did die from starvation but he never would have if he didn’t eat the potato seed.
    B. Hamilton was a writer and came across how Chris died in 2002. After researching more and more about the subject, he started to think Chris died from O.D.A.P. To find out what really happened, he read “Into The Wild” and it all clicked.
    C.This article changed my opinion on Chris drastically. While reading “Into The Wild” I really didn’t like Chris and thought what he was doing was stupid. After reading this article I realized he was trying to get home and him eating the seeds was his way of surviving until he could get back home.
    D. I think this article was just to defend Krakauer’s book because he was getting a lot of negative letters. This suggests that Krakauer was obsessive over the subject of Chris.

  23. A) Krakauer’s main point in the article is to provide evidence that McCandless’s death was not caused by starvation, as had previously been a widely held belief. Krakauer strongly believes that McCandless died of a poison found in the wild potato seeds that McCandless began to eat just prior to his death. Krakauer provides good evidence to back up this claim. McCandless began to consume these seeds that were not known to be poisonous. His plant book stated that these wild potato plants were safe to eat. It was not until after McCandless’s death that these seeds were discovered to hold ODAP, a poison that slowly paralyzes the body. This weakness made McCandless unable to gather food, leading to his death.

    B) Hamilton is a writer who wrote the paper “The Silent Fire: ODAP and the Death of Christopher McCandless.” He stated that the poison in the plant was actually an amino acid, which is why it was not initially detected. Krakauer includes him in the article because he believes in Hamilton’s theory. Hamilton attributed McCandless’s death to a poison called ODAP which strongly affects people of McCandless’s age and condition. It slowly paralyzes its victims. It causes a severe weakness and inability to function.

    1. B) While Hamilton may not be the most qualified person to make this diagnosis, he seems to be correct. I definitely buy into his theory. Based on McCandless’s knowledge it seems unlikely that he would have ingested a poison unless he did not know about it. Since no one else really knew about the poison for over a decade, it makes sense that this could have been the cause of McCandless’s death.

      C) This article made me believe that maybe McCandless really did know what he was doing. At first, I thought that McCandless was completely unprepared and overconfident heading into the Alaskan bush. While I still think it was a big mistake not to take a map, I have to admit that McCandless definitely was prepared to live of the land. He didn’t know the seed was poisonous because no one knew it was poisonous.

      D) I think Krakauer wrote this article to prove his theory of how McCandless died. He’s obviously very intrigued by McCandless, his life, and his death. However, I would not call him obsessive. He is also trying to clear Chris’s name in a way. Many people believe McCandless was an ignorant, overconfidant kid who was stupid to walk into the wild on his own. By proving his cause of death to be ODAP, Krakauer proves McCandless not to be at fault of his own death.

Leave a Reply