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100 Into the Wild Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

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Into the Wild is a popular book and movie that tells the true story of Christopher McCandless, a young man who abandoned his material possessions and set out on a journey to live in the wilderness of Alaska. His story has captivated audiences around the world and inspired many to think about their own relationships with nature and society. If you are looking for essay topics related to Into the Wild, look no further! Here are 100 ideas to get you started:

  • Analyze the symbolism of the bus in Into the Wild.
  • Discuss the role of nature in Christopher McCandless's journey.
  • Compare and contrast Chris's relationship with his family and his relationship with nature.
  • What does the title Into the Wild mean in the context of the book?
  • Explore the theme of self-discovery in Into the Wild.
  • Discuss the impact of McCandless's actions on the people he met along the way.
  • Analyze the role of materialism in McCandless's decision to go into the wild.
  • Discuss the significance of McCandless's decision to change his name to Alexander Supertramp.
  • Compare and contrast McCandless's journey with other famous wilderness explorers.
  • Discuss the ethics of McCandless's decision to go into the wild without proper preparation.
  • Analyze the role of literature in McCandless's journey.
  • Discuss McCandless's attitude towards authority figures.
  • What does McCandless's relationship with Ron Franz reveal about his character?
  • Discuss the impact of McCandless's death on his family and friends.
  • Analyze the role of fate in McCandless's journey.
  • Discuss the significance of McCandless's final journal entry.
  • Compare and contrast McCandless's journey with other famous survival stories.
  • Analyze the role of freedom in McCandless's decision to go into the wild.
  • Discuss the impact of McCandless's story on popular culture.
  • Compare and contrast the book and movie versions of Into the Wild.
  • Analyze the role of spirituality in McCandless's journey.
  • Discuss the impact of McCandless's story on the environmental movement.
  • Compare and contrast McCandless's journey with other famous road trips.
  • Analyze the role of risk-taking in McCandless's decision to go into the wild.
  • Discuss the impact of McCandless's story on the adventure travel industry.
  • Compare and contrast McCandless's journey with other famous quests for truth.
  • Analyze the role of McCandless's upbringing in his decision to go into the wild.
  • Discuss the impact of McCandless's story on the philosophy of individualism.
  • Compare and contrast McCandless's journey with other famous quests for self-discovery.
  • Analyze the role of McCandless's mental health in his decision to go into the wild.
  • Discuss the impact of McCandless's story on the field of psychology.
  • Compare and contrast McCandless's journey with other famous quests for enlightenment.
  • Analyze the role of McCandless's relationship with his parents in his decision to go into the wild.
  • Discuss the impact of McCandless's story on the field of sociology.
  • Compare and contrast McCandless's journey with other famous quests for freedom.
  • Analyze the role of McCandless's relationship with his sister in his decision to go into the wild.
  • Discuss the impact of McCandless's story on the field of anthropology.
  • Compare and contrast McCandless's journey with other famous quests for adventure.
  • Analyze the role of McCandless's relationship with society in his decision to go into the wild.
  • Discuss the impact of McCandless's story on the field of economics.
  • Compare and contrast McCandless's journey with other famous quests for independence.
  • Analyze the role of McCandless's relationship with technology in his decision to go into the wild.
  • Discuss the impact of McCandless's story on the field of environmental studies.
  • Compare and contrast McCandless's journey with other famous quests for simplicity.
  • Analyze the role of McCandless's relationship with the natural world in his decision to go into the wild.
  • Discuss the impact of McCandless's story on the field of wildlife conservation.
  • Compare and contrast McCandless's journey with other famous quests for solitude.
  • Analyze the role of McCandless's relationship with animals in his decision to go into the wild.
  • Discuss the impact of McCandless's story on the field of animal rights.
  • Compare and contrast McCandless's journey with other famous quests for survival.
  • Analyze the role of McCandless's relationship with death in his decision to go into the wild.
  • Discuss the impact of McCandless's story on the field of thanatology.
  • Compare and contrast McCandless's journey with other famous quests for meaning.
  • Analyze the role of McCandless's relationship with religion in his decision to go into the wild.
  • Discuss the impact of McCandless's story on the field of theology.
  • Compare and contrast McCandless's journey with other famous quests for spirituality.
  • Analyze the role of McCandless's relationship with philosophy in his decision to go into the wild.
  • Discuss the impact of McCandless's story on the field of philosophy.
  • Compare and contrast McCandless's journey with other famous quests for knowledge.
  • Analyze the role of McCandless's relationship with literature in his decision to go into the wild.
  • Discuss the impact of McCandless's story on the field of literary criticism.
  • Analyze the role of McCandless's relationship with history in his decision to go into the wild.
  • Discuss the impact of McCandless's story on the field of historical studies.
  • Compare and contrast McCandless's journey with other famous quests for justice.
  • Analyze the role of McCandless's relationship with politics in his decision to go into the wild.
  • Discuss the impact of McCandless's story on the field of political science.
  • Compare and contrast McCandless's journey with other famous quests for equality.
  • Analyze the role of McCandless's relationship with social issues in his decision to go into the wild.
  • Discuss the impact of McCandless's story on the field of social work.
  • Compare and contrast McCandless's journey with other famous quests for change.
  • Analyze the role of McCandless's relationship with activism in his decision to go into the wild.
  • Discuss the impact of McCandless's story on the field of social justice.
  • Compare and contrast McCandless's journey with other famous quests for peace.
  • Analyze the role of McCandless's relationship with war in his decision to go into the wild.
  • Discuss the impact of McCandless's story on the field of peace studies.
  • Compare and contrast McCandless's journey with other famous quests for harmony.
  • Analyze the role of McCandless's relationship with conflict in his decision to go into the wild.
  • Discuss the impact of McCandless's story on the field of conflict resolution.
  • Compare and contrast McCandless's journey with other famous quests for reconciliation.
  • Analyze the role of McCandless's relationship with forgiveness in his decision to go into the wild.
  • Discuss the impact of McCandless's story on the field of forgiveness studies.
  • Compare and contrast McCandless's journey with other famous quests for redemption.
  • Analyze the role of McCandless's relationship with guilt in his decision to go into the wild.
  • Discuss the impact of McCandless's story on the field of redemption studies.
  • Compare and contrast McCandless's journey with other famous quests for salvation.
  • Analyze the role of McCandless's relationship with sin in his decision to go into the wild.
  • Discuss the impact of McCandless's story on the field of sin studies.
  • Compare and contrast McCandless's journey with other famous quests for atonement.
  • Analyze the role of McCandless's relationship with punishment in his decision to go into the wild.
  • Discuss the impact of McCandless's story on the field of punishment studies.
  • Compare and contrast McCandless's journey with other famous quests for transformation.
  • Analyze the role of McCandless's relationship with change in his decision to go into the wild.
  • Discuss the impact of McCandless's story on the field of transformation studies.
  • Compare and contrast McCandless's journey with other famous quests for growth.
  • Analyze the role of McCandless's relationship with development in his decision to go into the wild.
  • Discuss the impact of McCandless's story on the field of development studies.
  • Compare and contrast McCandless's journey with other famous quests for progress.
  • Analyze the role of McCandless's relationship with evolution in his decision to go into the wild.
  • Discuss the impact of McCandless's story on the field of evolutionary studies.

These essay topics are just a starting point for exploring the themes and ideas in Into the Wild. Whether you are writing a literary analysis, a personal reflection, or a research paper, there are countless ways to

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Into the Wild

By jon krakauer, into the wild essay questions.

Is it possible for a biography to be truly impartial? Is Into the Wild ?

Biography can never be truly impartial, as, even if the author could include every moment of the subject’s life, rather than choosing which are most important, his method of presentation and his diction, inherently affect how the reader will feel about the subject. There is still a scale of more or less impartial, however, and Into the Wild falls on the less-impartial side, as Krakauer himself admits. For example, because he sees a lot of similarities between Chris and himself, he makes certain assumptions about Chris’s motivations and desires that he might not otherwise make. Yet because Krakauer makes this explicit, and doesn’t try to fool the reader, the reader still has the freedom to make their own interpretation.

Is McCandless truly compassionate, as he is often described?

McCandless’s compassion is the most enigmatic part of his story. It is clearly central to his personality for his whole life—he spends weekend nights in high school bringing burgers to homeless people—and yet he shows almost no compassion in dealing with his parents once he is in college. He willingly and intentionally leaves them in a state of utter unhappiness while he travels, and his disregard for his own safety threatens and ultimately destroys their wellbeing. This does not mean that he is not truly compassionate, but this compassion does have bounds.

In Krakauer’s depiction of McCandless, is he a flat or round character? Static or dynamic?

In Krakauer’s depiction, McCandless is certainly a round character. Although he is largely presented as good, his flaws are illuminated, and even his best qualities sometimes fail him. Krakauer also makes him a dynamic character, although the basis for this is largely conjecture. Krakauer believes that McCandless changed during his Alaska trip, that he may have mellowed and become ready to rejoin society and maybe even his family, although all of this is based on a few small lines Chris wrote, and passages he underlined in his reading.

Explain how McCandless’s quest for “ultimate freedom” is inherently selfish.

McCandless’s quest for ultimate freedom is not rooted in selfishness; it, in fact, comes out of largely noble desires. It is still inherently selfish, however, because it means acting for the individual over society, which is designed to protect everybody. Ultimate freedom means being accountable to no one but oneself, and thus, even if McCandless usually intended to act for the greater good, he has only his own limited perspective on what will truly lead to the greater good.

How does Krakauer’s authorial presence affect McCandless’s story?

Krakauer’s own upbringing and experiences as a young man come up throughout Into the Wild . Because there are such strong similarities to McCandless, the biggest difference being that Krakauer survived his odysseys, and so can tell his tale, Krakauer uses his own past to provide insights into McCandless’s actions and motivations. This also probably leads Krakauer to present McCandless in the most forgiving light that he can.

What does Into the Wild posit as the core of the problems between McCandless and his father?

Both Chris and Walt McCandless are strong-willed and independent, and Chris’s resistance to all authority means that he resents the authority his father has over him, even as he tries to please him. Chris specifically detests arbitrary authority, and so once he has proof that his father isn’t perfect, he then considers Walt’s authority over him to be completely arbitrary, and he resists it absolutely. Because of Chris’s intensity and tendency towards extremes, this becomes much more than just a typical adolescent rebellion.

What specific appeal does the wilderness have for all the adventure seekers described in Into the wild ?

The adventure seekers in Into the Wild all seem to be searching for a life with a kind of brute simplicity, which they believe they can find in the wilderness. High-risk living leaves little time for the complicated problems of modern society, and this seems to be much of the appeal for these men. They also seem to believe that there is some core of truth hidden beneath all the layers of modern life, and this can only be found in the wild. Finally, surviving the challenges posed by this way of life provide a feeling of deep accomplishment for these often ambitious or competitive men.

How is McCandless’s difficulty forgiving a driving force in his journeys?

McCandless, though largely driven by his principals and morals to live a rootless, anti-materialist existence, also seems at least partially driven forward by a desire to punish his parents. He resents their pressure for him to go to law school, their materialism, and what he sees as their attempts to control him, so he tells Carine that he is going to cut them out of his life completely because he cannot forgive them. In not contacting them at all while he is on the road, he turns his odyssey into a tool for punishment, at least on some level.

How can McCandless’s Datsun symbolize his interpersonal relationships?

McCandless is completely committed to his Datsun from the time he buys it until he graduates from college, when he is deeply offended by his parents’ offer to buy him a new car. He tells Carine that he would never trade in his Datsun, which he thinks is perfect. Once he has trouble with the car, though, he deserts it immediately and angrily. Chris loves the Datsun despite its surface flaws, just like he is able to love most of his friends regardless of their looks, money, or way of life, but when he perceives a deeper flaw, he is unforgiving, and cuts it out of his life completely, as he does with his parents.

McCandless’s story, despite its tragic end, has inspired many copycats since the original publication in Into the Wild . Why might this be?

Krakauer presents McCandless’s tale in a forgiving way, yet it is still a cautionary tale—although he believes Chris could have survived, and only died because of a small mistake, he shows just how devastating such behavior can be to McCandless, and to those who loved him. Yet McCandless’s passion for living by his principals, for simplicity and purity, is attractive and to Krakauer, admirable, and the book does show that it may indeed be the wilderness that is the best place to find this. Thus, those who feel unsatisfied by modern life and society may see McCandless’s flight from it as worthy of emulation.

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Into the Wild Questions and Answers

The Question and Answer section for Into the Wild is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

Remembering that the Latin prefix ir- means "not," use the context clues in the first paragraph of the passage to define the word irrelevant.

I do not know what specific passage you are referring to.

This chapter begins with a quote from Jack London. Who is he and what has he written?

Jack London is a famous author. He wrote The Call of the Wild, White Fang, To Build a Fire , and a variety of other books.

The purpose of ch 4 in into the wild

The purpose of chapter 4 is to show Chris's wish to shed his worldly possessions, even his identity, and make his way unencumbered by societal possessions. In October 1990, McCandless’s Datsun is found abandoned in the Mojave Desert by Bud Walsh,...

Study Guide for Into the Wild

Into the Wild study guide contains a biography of author Jon Krakauer, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

  • About Into the Wild
  • Into the Wild Summary
  • Into the Wild Video
  • Character List

Essays for Into the Wild

Into the Wild literature essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.

  • Jim Casy and Chris McCandless: Transcendentalism Gone Wrong
  • The Many Mistakes of Chris McCandless
  • Fatherly Influence in Into the Wild
  • Feeding by Starvation
  • An Unconventional Genre: Evaluating John Krakauer as a Biographer

Lesson Plan for Into the Wild

  • About the Author
  • Study Objectives
  • Common Core Standards
  • Introduction to Into the Wild
  • Relationship to Other Books
  • Bringing in Technology
  • Notes to the Teacher
  • Related Links
  • Into the Wild Bibliography

Wikipedia Entries for Into the Wild

  • Introduction

into the wild argument essay topics

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer Essay

  • To find inspiration for your paper and overcome writer’s block
  • As a source of information (ensure proper referencing)
  • As a template for you assignment

Summary of the Novel

Main characters and theme, commentary on the central theme of the novel.

Rural nature has always been a source of inspiration for many American writers. Jon Krakauer is not an exception. Extreme weather and challenging conditions are the perfect backgrounds for exploring people’s psyche. In his famous book Into the Wild , Krakauer studies a story of “a well-educated young man with an above-average intellect and remarkable spiritual ambitions” (Vera, 2015, p. 43). The book explores many topics, such as difficulties in family relationships, the meaning of reaching manhood, materialism, and capitalism. This paper focuses on covering the characters of the book, especially Christopher McCandless, and studying the central theme — the search for personal freedom in times of modernity.

The book describes the details of real-life Christopher McCandless, a young man who decides to abandon past life. Shortly after graduating from a prestigious college, Christopher “cuts himself off both from his family and from the values and symbolic roles expected of him” (Hook, 2018, p. 5). Before taking off, he gives up his real name and takes a moniker Alexander Supertramp . McCandless starts a journey to the West and then into the Alaskan wilderness, looking for solitude and escape from societal norms. He spends his time hitchhiking, exploring nature on foot, and a canoe. At some point, Alex applies for a job in Los Angeles but then returns to his original plan (Krakauer, 2011). McCandless tests his limits by hunting, foraging, and camping alone. Eventually, he dies of starvation in an abandoned bus, where locals find his body.

Christopher McCandless, Alexander Supertramp, or simply Alex is the protagonist of the novel, an Emory University graduate who recently finished his education. According to Vera (2015), he disliked “money and mainstream values, despite the fact—or rather because of the fact—that he was “flipping Quarter Pounders at McDonald’s” (p. 46). Alex grew up with his parents and a younger sister, Carine, and had a classic father-son relationship issue. The parents, Billie and Walt, assumed that their son would pursue a career as a lawyer, but instead, he donated all of the money to charity (Krakauer, 2011). Walt, an aerospace engineer, dismissed his son’s decision to travel. Eventually, the family members concluded that they misread Alex and never really knew anything about his intentions.

Wayne Westerberg and Jim Gallien

During the journey, the main character encountered many locals and created strong bonds with several people. One of them was Wayne Westerberg, a thick-shouldered hyperkinetic man (Krakauer, 2011). Westerberg owned a grain elevator in Carthage and gave Alex a job. He appreciated the intelligence and hard-working nature of the young man (Krakauer, 2011). Jim Gallien was a driver who encountered Alex on his way to the Alaskan wilderness. During the two-hour drive, Gallien concluded that McCandless was not another delusional traveler, but a determined and intelligent person, who lived by his choice. However, the driver tried to talk Alex out of the survival quest because this hitchhiker did not have the necessary equipment for the journey. Both Westerberg and Gallien positively changed their opinion about McCandless during the encounter.

Jan Burres and her Boyfriend, Bob

Jan Burres and Bob met McCandless in the summer of 1990 when he was looking for berries alongside the highway. The couple offered him a ride and meal because Alex looked exhausted and extremely malnourished. The young man accepted the offer and camped with Burres and her partner for a week. Jan had a connection with Alex because she missed her son. Bob also had much in common with their new friend, as he too was interested in survivalism. Together they sold books at the local flea market, and Alex demonstrated enthusiasm as a salesman. McCandless kept in touch with the couple by sending them postcards even after two years after their departure.

Ronald Franz

Ronald Franz, another acquaintance of Alex, was an 80-year-old retired army veteran who once had issues with alcohol. Franz was different from other companions: although the old man provided the traveler with meals and necessary equipment, he also gave Alex emotional support and was like a father to him. He urged McCandless to leave a camp as he considered it to be a negative influence for a young man. However, he took McCandless’ advice against a passive lifestyle and waited for the return of his new friend. Franz was worried about the destiny of an ambitious adventurer and even wanted to adopt him. When he found out about McCandless’ death, he resumed drinking and gave up his belief in God.

The theme of the Book

Exploring the life of Christopher McCandless, Krakauer explores a number of topics such as family relationship, maturity, and manhood as well as survival in a capitalist society. However, the main idea of the book is freedom and its importance when a person is trapped inside a system of norms and rules. Sheils and Walsh (2017) state that the main character’s escape “signified precisely this, an attempted escape from—or opposition to—a given societal form of the symbolic order” (p. 136). To Alex, the only way to start a new life and find peace was to abandon the typical order of the life of an affluent American.

One could believe that the main character was actually a spiritually weak rebel, as he did not prepare himself for the journey and died for no purpose. On the surface level, there was not any reason for a well-to-do young man to give up his privileges and possibilities. Nonetheless, it should be noticed that Alex had full determination to change his life, and none of his actions was meaningless. According to Vera (2015), “McCandless created his poverty by artificial means, which might have been inspired by Thoreau’s condemnation of the market economy and materialism” (p. 46). It is possible to agree that the trip to Alaska offered him freedom and meaning. Although the main character of the book could have avoided the unnecessary challenge of wild nature, his decision deserves respect for strong determination and complete devotion to one’s beliefs and ideas.

Into the Wild covers the story of a young man who decided to test his abilities and personal qualities in the harsh conditions of Alaska. The man who considered himself to be impotent to connect with people eventually communicates and bonds with total strangers. The novel examines topics that are traditional for American and European literature, such as interpersonal relationships, psychological maturity, personal struggles in the system of beliefs that traps and diminishes individual desires and choices. The main topic is personal freedom as the real purpose of life, which can only be achieved by means of difficult choices. The book explains that personal decisions should be respected, no matter how different they are in one’s opinion.

Hook, D. (2018). Melancholic psychosis—A Lacanian approach. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 28 (4), 466-480.

Krakauer, J. (2011). Into the wild . London, UK: Pan Macmillan.

Sheils, B., & Walsh, J. (Eds.). (2017). Narcissism, melancholia and the subject of community. London, UK: Pan Macmillan.

Vera, J. S. (2015). Thoreau as an oblique mirror: Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, American Studies in Scandinavia, 47 (1), 40-60.

  • The Concept of Idealism in the Book Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
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  • Chicago (A-D)
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IvyPanda. (2019, December 3). Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. https://ivypanda.com/essays/into-the-wild-by-jon-krakauer/

"Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer." IvyPanda , 3 Dec. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/into-the-wild-by-jon-krakauer/.

IvyPanda . (2019) 'Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer'. 3 December.

IvyPanda . 2019. "Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer." December 3, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/into-the-wild-by-jon-krakauer/.

1. IvyPanda . "Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer." December 3, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/into-the-wild-by-jon-krakauer/.

Bibliography

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Into the Wild Essay Examples

Theme of into the wild.

Into the wild is a book that centers around the story of Chris McCandless otherwise known as Alexander Supertramp, who leaves home for his dream adventure of going to Alaska and living on his own. A theme in the book is the theme of self-independence....

Into the Wild': Chris Mccandless’s Journey

Jon Krakauer’s novel, ‘Into The Wild’, depicts the story of Chris McCandless’s journey across the nation which ultimately led to his death. There are many motifs that are present in this book however. In ‘Into the Wild’ essay these hidden motifs are described. Man vs....

A Selfish Hero in into the Wild by John Krakuear

“Into the Wild” by John Krakuear is about a young man named Chris McCandless who finished high school in Virginia with outstanding grades, later Chris attend Emory University for about 4 years. In Chris’s senior year, he moved into a small apartment accumulated basic necessities...

Foolish Choices of Chris Mccandless in into the Wild by Jon Krakeur

“A fool thinks himself to be wise,but a wise man knows himself to be a fool” (william shakespeare). Into the Wild is a nonfiction book by Jon Krakeur on the life events of Chris Mccandless from when he was growing up and when he adopted...

The Character of Christopher Mccandless in John Krakauer’s into the Wild

Venturing off into nature can help find a sense of true meaning of who someone is and belonging in life. However, it is the environment nature that unfortunately takes his life. Towards the end of his life, McCandless Discovers what he never realized before. He...

A Rhetorical Analysis of into the Wild

The story of Chris McCandless has captivated the American audience for years. Though it is unknown what exactly occurred during his trip to Alaska, there is much speculation. In the search for evidence to determine the events that occurred during his journey, Jon Krakauer developed...

Into the Wild:  Mccandless' Inspiring Journey

Imagine waking up one morning and wanting to throw away everything,wanting to get away from the world to actually see the world. Imagine actually living your life instead of just existing. That’s exactly what Chris McCandless— also known as Alexander Supertramp— did. Chris McCandless was...

The Central Idea of into the Wild

Throughout time, many people all over the world develop different principles and ideologies that bring joy and happiness through their lives. These principles can come from a variety of subjects and are unique to the individual. Specifically, in the book Into The Wild by Jon...

The Different Views of Christopher Mccandless's Journey

Into the Wild is a novel based on the true tales of Christopher McCandless, a wealthy young man and his journey from the east coast to the Alaskan wilderness. Many ideas have been thrown around about Chris and what made him leave everything behind. Whether...

The Similarities Between Chris Mccandndless’ and Ralph Waldo Emmerson’s Philosophies

Chris McCandndles/Alex and the Emmerson’s Self-Reliance are similar because one they both see life almost the same. Alex followed a transcendentalist philosophy. Alex got rid of his money, his social obligation, even his identity and took it among himself to remodel his life “Into the...

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About Into the Wild

January 13, 1996

Jon Krakauer

Sublime nature, music and musical instruments, ascetics, artists, and holy figures

The American Wilderness, Risk and Self-Reinvention, Arrogance, Innocence, and Ignorance, Luck, Chance, and Circumstance, Materialism and Idealism, Isolation. The question to be accepted into society and how finding oneself sometimes conflicts with being an active member of society.

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