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Incendio!

Now you burn and we stare.

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The most notable aspect of this passage of Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer is not its relevancy to the story itself, but its style and, furthermore, what its style reveals of the text's author. Krakauer, a journalist by trade, has clearly employed the style of writing most commonly associated with his occupation in penning this passage: the 44 lines are mainly made up of four interviews, or rather four men's responses to questions presumably posed by Krakauer, concerning Chris McCandless' possible involvement in the destruction of three cabinets. Krakauer begins by letting the initial discoverer of the cabin ruins describe his initial reactions to them – a decision which may seem obvious in its logic but is also a clever narrative trick on the author's part, letting the reader of the passage first discover the wreckage through the eyes of its first surveyor.
The first interview also establishes the time frame - “... it was clear that the vandalism had occurred many weeks earlier” (10-11) – and the fact that the damage was caused by a human being - “It was obviously not the work of a bear ... This looked like somebody had gone at the cabins with a clawhammer and destroyed everything in sight.” (5-9) The second interview – lines 12 through 19 – further describes the damage done to one of the cabins, this time by the cabin's owner himself. It is worded passionately, with “ceiling boards yanked down” (15-16) and “[a] big carpet hauled out to rot” (17) which definitely will have an effect on the reader, as it is powerful imagery and suggests a great force. Krakauer may not be responsible for the words themselves, as the speaker is Will Forsberg, but he has certainly included these particular words in order to convey a certain tone.
What the second paragraph also introduces is the thought of McCandless as the main suspect in the destruction of the cabins, and the author's bias, respectively. Judging by previous events in the text, it does not seem a baseless accusation that “[McCandless] flew into a rage over the intrusion of civilization on his precious wilderness experience and systematically wrecked the buildings.” (21-24) Krakauer, however, seemingly dismisses this suspicion by countering it with the observation that McCandless did not wreck the bus, which would have been an intrusion of civilization as much as the cabins were. What is interesting here is not whether McCandless wrecked the buildings or why, but the fact that the author of the passage, hitherto disguised by omitting his questions from the recountings of the interview, voices his opinion for the first time: McCandless is innocent.
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