Summary and Analysis
A hiker in Alaska, a man estimated to be in his late twenties or thirties, is found dead of starvation in September 1992. The story is covered in the Anchorage Daily News and picked up by the New York Times. Jim Gallien, the last person to see McCandless alive, thinks the dead hiker is McCandless, as does Wayne Westerberg. Christopher McCandless's oldest half-brother, Sam, is questioned by the Fairbanks, Alaska, police, who show him a photo of a gaunt man with a beard and long hair — the opposite of the shorn, clean-shaven sibling that Sam remembers. As the chapter ends, he prepares to tell his father and stepmother the heartbreaking news.
By flashing forward to McCandless's death, Krakauer intensifies the drama of his story. He reminds us that McCandless's adventure ends tragically. In addition, the author emphasizes the young man's connections to those whose lives he touched: friends Gallien and Westerberg, as well as MCandless's relatives.
The prior two chapters have emphasized McCandless's commonalities with others who have sought adventure and solitude in the wild. This short chapter reminds us that, although it was not unique, McCandless's story was noteworthy, newsworthy — it was covered not only in Alaska but in the national press.