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This post will be updated through the week as I cover the 17 pages or so per day. I start out with giving you a couple of the definitions from the Oxford: be sure to look at the etymology of the word as well.
(Remember: a strong vocabulary is the one thing that successful people have in common.)
Notice how Krakauer’s use of shifting from time and place, establishing and then coming back to interactions with people like Burris and Westerberg, have the intended effect of building the story, of scaffolding our understanding and opinion about why McCandless lived as he did, about the “validity” of his end.
Hegira |hiˈjīrə; ˈhejərə| (also Hejira or Hijra |ˈhijrə|)
Muhammad’s departure from Mecca to Medina in ad 622, prompted by the opposition of the merchants of Mecca and marking the consolidation of the first Muslim community.
• the Muslim era reckoned from this date : the second century of the Hegira. See also AH .
• ( hegira) an exodus or migration.
ORIGIN via medieval Latin from Arabic hijra ‘departure,’ from hajara ‘emigrate.’
noun ( pl. geniuses )
1 exceptional intellectual or creative power or other natural ability : she was a teacher of genius | Gardner had a real genius for tapping wealth.
2 a person who is exceptionally intelligent or creative, either generally or in some particular respect : one of the great musical geniuses of the 20th century.
3 ( pl. genii |ˈjēnēˌī|) (in some mythologies) a guardian spirit associated with a person, place, or institution.
• a person regarded as exerting a powerful influence over another for good or evil : he sees Adams as the man’s evil genius.
4 ( pl. genii ) the prevalent character or spirit of something such as a nation or age : Boucher’s paintings did not suit the austere genius of neoclassicism.
ORIGIN late Middle English : from Latin, ‘attendant spirit present from one’s birth, innate ability or inclination,’ from the root of gignere ‘beget.’ The original sense [tutelary spirit attendant on a person] gave rise to a sense [a person’s characteristic disposition] (late 16th cent.), which led to a sense [a person’s natural ability,] and finally [exceptional natural ability] (mid 17th cent.).
What is Franz’s story, chiefly, why has he taken so to Alex? (50)
What is Alex’s advice to Franz? (51, 56-58)
The tooled leather belt. http://www.christophermccandless.info/images/slideshow2.jpg
How does Alex’s letter (56-58) illustrate the Thoreau excerpt that opens the chapter?
Understand the definitions of chaste and chastity.
“Unlike most of us, he was the sort of person who insisted on living his beliefs.” I disagree with the quantification of this statement: most people do live their beliefs – and this is perhaps why this country is the way it is.
The letter from the teacher from Ambler concludes with “or am I missing something?” Is he? As the story unfolds, does your opinion hold?
Note the parallels between Gene Rosellini and McCandless.
[Rosellini’s theory perhaps failed to take into account that the ancients never lived alone: man is a social animal, and his success stems largely from cooperation and mutual support.]
Krakauer is documenting his point: McCandless is by no means the first of his kind.
So Krakauer thinks McCandless a sort of pilgrim? Diction is the author’s word choice. Notice the use of words of spirituality and religious journey such as “peregrination” (author’s note).
a person who journeys to a sacred place for religious reasons.
• (usu. Pilgrim) a member of a group of English Puritans fleeing religious persecution who sailed in the Mayflower and founded the colony of Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620.
• a person who travels on long journeys.
• chiefly poetic/literary a person whose life is compared to a journey.
verb ( -grimed, -griming) [ intrans. ] archaic
travel or wander like a pilgrim.
pilgrimize |-ˌmīz| verb ( archaic).
ORIGIN Middle English : from Provençal pelegrin, from Latin peregrinus ‘foreign’ (see peregrine ).
noun (also peregrine falcon)
•a powerful falcon found on most continents, breeding chiefly on mountains and coastal cliffs and much used for falconry.
[ORIGIN: translating the modern Latin taxonomic name, literally ‘pilgrim falcon,’ because the bird was caught full-grown as a passage hawk, not taken from the nest.] • Falco peregrinus, family Falconidae.
•coming from another country; foreign or outlandish : peregrine species of grass.
ORIGIN late Middle English : from Latin peregrinus ‘foreign,’ from peregre ‘abroad,’ from per- ‘through’ + ager ‘field.’
By writing about McCandless in a nonlinear fashion — meaning out of chronological order or in sequence of travels — we get a “that makes perfect sense” experience when his family life and his sports ethos are revealed at this half-way point.
It becomes clear that McCandless has always hated “rules.”
“McCandless viewed running as an intensely spiritual exercise, verging on religion.”
The ironies around starving to death continue: “Chris didn’t understand how people could possibly be allowed to go hungry, especially in this country.”
“an impossibly rigorous moral code.” He is contradictorily forgiving of some and not of others.
It is at this point that Krakauer reveals the probable cause of the rift between Chris and Walt. Timing is so allows us to consider McCandless’s character and motives, and the revelation at this point is somewhat like Chris’s shock at discovering the facts.
The conclusion of the chapter is haunting.
If you’ve ever gone through it, this chapter might be difficult. Make sure you enjoy this day.
Krakauer attempts to dispel speculation that McCandless meant to commit suicide by illustrating his own youthful quest for [adventure/clarity/meaning].
Notice the diction of spirituality, or pilgrimage.
A penitente is a religious figure who bears a heavy wooden cross to emulate Christ’s suffering. A penance in this sense is a purposeful suffering in order to cleanse sin.
“It is easy, when you are young, to believe that what you desire is no less that what you deserve, to assume that if you want something badly enough, it is your God-given right to have it…I was a raw youth who mistook passion for insight and acted according to an obscure, gap-ridden logic…At that stage of my youth, death remained as abstract a concept as non-Euclidean geometry or marriage.”
“crossing the Rubicon” is an idiom meaning a point of no return.
On the topo map, look at how the rivers are for the most part single lines of blue, but that at some places become a sort of mesh of wire: during snowmelt, the rivers become wild and weave within that belt, or fill it.
Page 170: if he’d have gone a mile upstream…If he’d have had “a USGS quadrant (map) and a Boy Scout manual.”