Complete English Discussion (BLANCH)

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After reading “The Dark Night of the Soul,” chapter one in Miller’s book, consider the following passage:

“What makes Into the Wild remarkable is Krakauer’s ability to get some purchase on McCandless’s actual reading practice, which, in turn enables him to get inside McCandless’s head and speculate with considerable authority about what ultimately led the young man to abandon the comforts of home and purposefully seek out mortal danger. Krakauer is able to do this, inpart, because he has access to the books that McCandless read, with all their underlinings and marginalia, as well as to his journals and the postcards and letters mcCandless sent to friends during his journey. Working with the materials and his interview with McCandless’s family and friends, Krakauer develops a sense of McCandless’s inner life and eventually comes to some understanding of why the young man was so susceptible to being seduced by the writings of London, Thoreau, Muir, and Tolstoy. Who McCandless is and what becomes of him are, it turns out, intimately connected to the young man’s approach to reading-both what he chose to read and how he chose to read it.”

When Miller is writing about Krakauer’s Into the Wild, he seems to suggest that what we read and how we read can say something about who we are and about what we might become. This is a bold claim.

Think of a book that made a difference to you, that captured you, maybe one you have read more than once, maybe one that you’ve made marks in, or one that still sits on your bookshelf. Or, if not a book, think of your favorite song, album, movie, or TV show, something that engaged you at least potentially as McCandless was engaged by London, Thoreau, Muir, and Tolstoy. What was it that you found there? What kind of reader were you? And what makes this a story in the past tense? How and why did you move on? (Or if it is not a story in the past tense, where are you now, and are you, like McCandless, in any danger?)


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