“It was a very hard thing for me to do,
I was sad to be leaving him.”
I love this scene because you can see the emotion in Ron, knowing that he will probably never see Chris again, even if he survived his journey. The lonely old man found a friend in Chris, someone he could talk to, do exciting things with, and overall make his life better, and now has to deal with life without him in it again. Hal portrayed him brilliantly.
One can only speculate about why Franz became so attached to McCandless so quickly, but the affection he felt was genuine, intense and unalloyed. Franz had been living a solitary existence for many years. He had no family and few friends. A disciplined, self-reliant man, he got along remarkably well despite his age and solitude. When McCandless came into his world, however, the boy undermined the old man’s meticulously constructed defenses. Franz relished being with McCandless, but their burgeoning friendship also reminded him how lonely he’d been. The boy unmasked the gaping void in Franz’s life even as he helped fill it. When McCandless departed as suddenly as he’d arrived, Franz found himself deeply and unexpectedly hurt.
McCandless was thrilled to be on his way North, and he was relieved as well - relieved that he had again evaded the impending threat of human intimacy, of friendship, and all the messy emotional baggage that comes with it. He had fled the claustrophobic confines of his family. He’d successfully kept Jan Burres and Wayne Westerberg at arm’s length, flitting out of their lives before anything was expected of him. And now he’d slipped painlessly out of Ron Franz’s life as well.
Painlessly, that is, from McCandless’s perspective - although not from the old man’s.
On your great Alaskan adventure.
Ron Franz - Into The Wild