A few weeks ago I watched the movie Into the Wild. Frankly it left me feeling annoyed. I didn't find Chris McCandless to be a very likable. He struck me as arrogant, out of touch, wanting to escape from responsibility, and wanting to punish his parents. Aware that movies very rarely live up to the true story the way a book does, I decided that it was a must read for me.
I guess we could look at McCandless as presented in the book as a young man on a soul searching mission but to be honest, I'm not sure I feel any differently about him now that I've finished it than I did from just watching the movie. The book does allow me to be slightly more sympathetic towards him than the movie did, but I still find myself unable to get past his overall egotism. His disregard for the care that everyone he encountered showed for him including abandoning his sister whom he was supposedly very close to, to a situation that he himself couldn't tolerate. His lack of ability to talk out things that he had a problem with and instead brood on them leaves me with the overall impression of immaturity.
His view that somehow the mistakes that his parents had made in the past and failed to tell him about led to his 'entire childhood being a lie' is narcissistic.
While I get his wanderlust - I have been known for my fair share of it - and appreciate his dedication to not being made a slave to societies wants it only makes for a good story and way of life if you can manage it alive - otherwise it's a pretty poor example of societies evils and only screams for it's necessary elements.
I understand that suffocating feeling that idling brings. Hell, I still suffer from it daily - but Chris McCandless was not someone to idealize for his convictions.
Having information available to you and choosing to ignore it doesn't make you heroic - it makes you ignorant.