As a little girl growing up in a tiny Illinois farm town, I would often dream of moving to Chicago and becoming somebody completely different. When I finally arrived there after graduating from high school, I was absolutely overwhelmed.
After a while, I discovered that while my location had changed, I was still that small town girl. Since that time I have asked myself: is home merely a state of mind? Is geography nothing more than a physical location? And, in the case of Christopher McCandless and Gerald Broflofski, can changing your identity be as easy as changing your zip code?I do not believe that to be the case. In fact, I find the opposite to be true. It is one’s experiences and morals that makes a person who they are. Location, ultimately, is just a backdrop. As a young man, Christopher McCandless is raised in an upper-middle class family in a metropolitan area on the East Coast. He is educated, athletic and well travelled. His family is part of the All-American culture of comfortable suburban homes, country clubs and higher education.
His athleticism and education both play into his previous survival for four months in the Alaskan bush.Similarly, South Park’s animated character Gerald Broflofski is living the typical American dream in his little part of the world. He resides in urban Colorado with his homemaker wife and two sons. Broflofski is part of the regular-Joe society of South Park. Both of these individuals have building blocks that have been laid that determine who they are by these experiences. Additionally, McCandless tries to push aside the morals of his upper middle class rearing and he turns his back on a financially secure future, but it is those very qualities that give him the tools and the belief to go out on his own.
His studies in Anthropology and History in college help to develop his desire to live a less complicated nonmaterialistic, more virtuous lifestyle. This is the reason he journeys to the Alaskan wilderness. He tries so hard to change himself he creates and alternate identity and writes on the plywood window in the bus, “No longer to be poisoned by civilization he flees, and walks alone upon the land to become lost in the wild. Alexander Supertramp” (Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild, 291) It does not matter that he is not prepared for it.All that matters to him is that he gets away from everything he has every known. Correspondingly, Broflofski decides he wants to be “Part of the solution, not part of the problem” (Smug Alert! South Park).
He gets a new ecologically sensible Hybrid vehicle which leads him to make the high-minded decision that the socially irresponsible people of Southpark no longer understand him. This ushers in his desire is to live amongst those who are more like him.When McCandless and Broflofski feel they are being poisoned by their existing lives, they both want to escape to a different zip code. By changing their physical location, they believed, they could change who they were. But, Home isn’t just a state of mind, geography is so much more than just a location and identity is alterable but it is also repairable. In the end it is nature that stops McCandless from being able to rejoin civilization when he realizes after almost four months on his own that what he really desires is to live life simply in the company of others.
While the fictional Brofloski’s make it back to South Park Colorado thanks to the great smug storms, they once again find that they are home among those who are really most like them. In the manner of Dorothy and her tornado in the Wizard of OZ, both McCandless and the Broflofski’s discover that there really is no place like home.Krakauer, Jon. “Selections from Into the Wild. ” The New Humanities Reader.
Eds. Richard Miller & Kurt Spellmeyer. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. 286-306.
Print “Smug Alert! ” South Park. (Trey Parker & Matt Stone). Comedy Partners. 29Mar. 2006 Television