The peripheral female characters also act in ways that put themselves at risk. While the female characters take personal risks to fulfill their need for relationships, Chris takes selfishly motivated physical chances, ultimately disregarding all human relationships; this binary begs the question then of which is more heroicвЂ?truly caring about people and amphetamine? Or being independent and avoiding emotional engagement? As Lindsay E. Rankin and Alice H. Eagle, two Northwestern University psychologists wrote in a 2008 article titled “Is His Heroism Hailed and Hers Hidden?
Women, Men, and the Social Construction of Heroism,” “the nonsexual meaning of heroism resides in taking risks, often risks of injury or death, to benefit others” (414). Chris takes many risks throughout the film. He fords dangerous rivers, kayaks to the Gulf of Mexico, and freighter’s across the country, to name a few. Yes, many of the risks Chris takes threaten his life however none of them seem to be benefiting others; they all have to do with him getting closer to his ultimate goal of being in isolation. So how then, is he seen as a hero?
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Something about the way Chrism’s seemingly self-serving risks are shown gives viewers a tantalizing sense of freedom and euphoria. Take for example the scene that shows Chris donating the remainder of his college fund, throwing away a picture of his parents, and burning his social security card. It appears towards the beginning of the movie, right before he leaves to begin his Journey to Alaska. The scene starts out in Chrism’s dim bedroom as he counts his money. The camera never shows Chris is his entirety. It either focuses on Chrism’s face or on the actions he is doing with his hands.
This completely detaches Chrism’s actions from his emotion, or lack thereof. Pretty much the only thing that the viewers can tell is that Chris is in a hurry, as his face says nothing. The cinematography of this scene makes Chris seem shady, like he is committing a crime, because criminals are oftentimes described as being cool and emotionless. Chrism’s “criminality’ is significantly lessened as the camera focuses on what Chris is actually doing. He is writing a check to the Sofas charity along with a note that says, “The are all my savings. Feed someone with it. The criminal vibe fades. It could be said that donating his money was a risk benefiting others – a trait of a hero. But then, after briefly glancing at a picture of his parents, Chris tosses it onto the trash, complicating his persona even more. This act is symbolic of Chris severing ties with his parents and leaving for his Journey without notifying them. Casually discarding their photo is not a great way for Chris to show gratitude to the people who paid for his college tuition and offered to buy him a new car and pay for grad school.
Sure, his parents had their domestic disputes that traumatized Chris as son. Chris now seems like an ungrateful son. Lastly in this scene, Chris sets fire to his Social Security card with a match and nonchalantly tosses it on his desk to burn. To he draft-card burning, war-protesting hippies of the United States, this might seem a laudable act of rejecting “social slavery. ” However, to patriotic Americans this act might seem terrible and make Chris seem like an inappreciative iconoclast.
Yet, even the most loyal American would likely commend Chris on his guts, even if they do not agree with his actions. Almost everyone gets frustrated with the daily humdrum of his or her lives at some point and wishes they could free themselves of all bonds and just take off with no inhibitions – Just like Chris did. So although his risks hardly seem o benefit others, it is extremely plausible that Chris can be considered a hero due to his lack of personal inhibitions. Strangely, and further robbing us of Chrism’s emotional state in this scene, the narration is by his sister, Caring Mishandles.
By having Caring as opposed to Chris talk during this scene, Chris is essentially robbed of his emotional voice. Caring attempts to give the viewers insight into the inner workings of Chrism’s mind. She talks about how Chris “measured himself and those around him by a fiercely rigorous moral code. ” And how he “risked what could have been a limitlessly lonely path, but found company in the characters of the books he loved. From writers like Jack London, Tolstoy, and Thoreau. ” It almost seems as though Caring is trying to Justify Chrism’s actions, probably .
The audience members who view Chris as Just a foolish, troubled youth may hear Caring and project that same disapproving view onto her. By sticking up for her brother, Caring puts her own reputation on the line – a risk for the sake of Chris. She most likely takes this risk because she cares about Chris and does not want people to Judge him negatively. Carbine’s concern for her brother, according to Rankin and Eagle, may also be viewed as an act of heroism: The construal of heroism as involving both risk to the hero and benefit to others is provocative in relation to cultural stereotypes of men and women.
As Becker and Eagle (2004) demonstrated, risk taking is stereotypically and actually associated with men, whereas empathic concern for others’ welfare is stereotypically and actually associated with women. Given this definition of heroism as combining masculine and feminine elements, heroism would seem to be culturally androgynous, ND women as well as men might be well represented as heroes. (Rankin and Eagle 414) Similar to Caring, Tracy, Chrism’s romantic interest in the movie, also takes a risk. When Chris goes to Slab City to Join Rained and Jan, a hippie couple that Chris becomes very fond of, he meets a girl named Tracy.
Their relationship builds through a montage complete with acoustic guitar music and lingering gazes, and it becomes clear that Chris and Tracy are more than “Just friends. ” At what seems like the climax of their relationship, Tracy does something that could possibly Jeopardize their allegations. It is Christmas day, and Chris has Just finished a mid-afternoon workout and sees Tracy sitting on her trailer’s doorstep. As Chris walks toward her, Tracy hurriedly retreats into the trailer. Chris enters to find Tracy lying on the bed in nothing but her underwear. Tracy hardly appears heroic in this scene.
She looks naive, exposed, and vulnerable, and it is clear that it is her intention to have sex with Chris. At this point, some people may immediately label as a lonely girl who simply and actual social relationships or the subjective gap between one’s optimal levels of social relationships and achieved levels of same… Is crucial in creating a sense of loneliness” (Shoving-Ezra and Ileitis 157). She may also be labeled as a hormonal teenager who Just wants to experience sex. Chris hesitantly walks toward Tracy as she looks at him expectantly and says, “My parents went into town. By saying that, Tracy makes herself sound very childish, as if that is the reason they should have sex. But regardless of how Tracy appears in this scene, she still took a huge personal risk by making herself so vulnerable to Chris. There is always a possibility of rejection hen it comes to furthering a relationship, and Tracy was willing to take the chance because she cared about Chris and wanted “something more. ” Perhaps even she was trying to have sex with him because she thought it would make him happy. Sadly though, rejection is exactly what Tracy experiences.
Chris says no. Despite the risks and/or empathetic concerns both Caring and Tracy display in the film, it is highly unlikely that either would be considered representative of heroism. And it is not Just because they are not the main characters of the film. There are plenty of movies where the hero is not the main character. There is something lacking in Caring and Tract’s characters that causes viewers to disassociate heroism with them even though they display the heroic elements described in Rankin and Eagles description.
Perhaps it has something to do with an important caveat that arises when dealing with risk and heroism; “risk taking that imposes demands of physical strength (e. G. , rescuing people from fires or drowning) advantages men because of their greater physical prowess” (Rankin and Eagle 414). This specification of what risk-taking is implies that only men can be considered heroes because heroic risk taking requires hysterical strength, only men have physical strength, and heroes take risks. A closer look at some of the scenes from Into the Wild makes it clear why viewers are more likely to identify Chris as a heroic figure.
Throughout the course of the film, there are countless scenes in which Chrism’s strength and physical abilities are emphasized as he tramps across the wild terrain. In the middle of the movie, following a flashback in which Chris is a little boy and his parents are arguing and fighting as he watches helplessly, there is a scene that begins by Chris is climbing up a snowy mountain without any gear whatsoever. The camera stays on Chris the entire climb, so it is unclear how high he is. When Chris reaches the top of the mountain, the camera finally moves away from him, exposing the vast snowy, mountainous landscape surrounding him.
Chris looks out onto the world, throws his head back, and spreads his arms out into their full wingspan with a look of satisfaction on his face as the camera circles around him. At this same time, you hear Eddie Evader, lead singer of the ass’s alternative rock band Pearl Jam, belt out what sound like wolf howls. Juxtaposed against the image of Chris being helpless as his parents fight, this cane conveys an extreme sensation of power and might. Chris becomes an annalistic conqueror who seems invincible.
The awareness of Chrism’s strength is only heightened as the mountain scene fades into a slow motion scene of Chris showering naked in the woods. Chris hangs an aluminum contraption onto a tree and steaming water pours out of it onto Chrism’s muscular body as he runs his hands through hair and Eddie Evader continues to howl and moan in the background. In Cinema, the author Nicola Reeling notes that “the representation of masculinity has always been inextricably tied up with issues of power” (Reeling 87). No doubt, the presentation of Chrism’s masculinity through his naked body does express that he has power.
This scene may also appeal to females in particular for obvious reasons. But it could also appeal to men, as Chris becomes an idol of sorts. Almost every man wishes to run rampant in the wild and bask in his manliness. Coupled with the scene of Chris on top of the mountain, the shower scene shows that Chris is a powerful man who is in control of his own life and can do anything his heart desires. The film Into the Wild presents a mix of characters that each deal with relationships in their own way and take their own forms of risk.