Table of contents:
- Body paragraphs
When looking into writing a persuasive essay about a controversial, yet deeply human story such as that of the death of Christopher McCandless, it’s important to bear in mind the nuances of the stories about him. While your thesis statement should take a strong stand, it need not take a harsh or unforgiving black-and-white one that ignores subtleties. You should acknowledge the complexity of what you are writing about.
Here are some potential prompts for theses you could use when completing your assignment about this topic.
Thesis: Christopher McCandless’ death was a tragic lesson in the failure of preparation for survival in the wild.
Thesis: The life of Christopher McCandless provides important insight into why he died the way he did; his sister’s memoir shows that something inside him needed to disappear into the wilderness.
Thesis: Christopher McCandless’ death leaves more questions than answers, even so many years later, but ultimately, it’s a failure to diagnose and treat mental illness that killed him.
When you move on into the body of your essay, bear in mind that this is where you prove your thesis and do the bulk of your persuading. With a topic like this one, where there isn’t much in the way of facts, emotional appeals will probably have to form the bulk of your argument. You can also take the theme more widely and discuss survival in the wild in general, pulling in facts and figures from other cases and sources.
Body paragraphs example
Body: Unfortunately, Christopher McCandless, in leaving civilisation, signed his own death warrant. He was simply not ready for living off the land in the way he thought he was. Some of the food he had harvested and eaten may have contributed to his death by poisoning him, and although he shot a moose, he had no knowledge of how to properly preserve the meat, and so it spoiled quickly. Far from being the Thoreau-like figure that some people think him, he was just a foolish young man who got lost within easy access of safety and rescue.
As you move into your conclusion, consider once again what your thesis is and who you are trying to persuade. Summarise your arguments briefly to reinforce them in your audience’s mind, then close the essay with a final call to action, even if this just to think about the topic differently.
Conclusion: Christopher McCandless was woefully underprepared for life in the wild. He didn’t know the area, he didn’t know what was safe, or how to preserve the food he caught. This is what ultimately led to his death. Don’t make the same mistake if you go exploring in the wilderness. Take a map, take enough food, and let people know where you are going.
Conclusion: Mental illness is very much underdiagnosed even today but back then, things were even worse. If the many warning signs hadn’t been overlooked by everyone he encountered, his story might have ended far more happily. Be aware of those around you, especially people acting odd or out of character, and always provide what help you can. You may prevent a tragedy.