"I Want This Movie to Grip People in the Heart" (Christopher Keyes, Outside Magazine)
Module Description and Background This nonfiction, full-length work, Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, was published in 1996. Engaging students in this biography/story, based on Krakauer’s investigation of Christopher McCandless, a young, idealistic college graduate, allows them to think deeply about human motivation and, perhaps, to begin to understand the complexity of maturity. In addition, because McCandless was an avid reader of works by the American Transcendentalists and Russian novelists, students may become interested in reading some of those works on their own, if only to gain some insight into McCandless’s use of those writers’ ideas to form his philosophy on life, twisting their idealism in ways that, ironically, might have led to his death. This nonfiction work is a mystery tale, with genuine pathos that appeals to young adult readers. Students will evaluate and think about the choices McCandless had, the decisions he made, and the mistakes and misjudgments that resulted. Students will be led through the work, accompanied by a model assignment sequence that incorporates reading and writing exercises. This module specifically focuses on activities to improve students’ understanding of character; authorial intentions; independent word learning strategies; text structure; and information, ideas, and words from the text that will support interpretations and arguments about the text.