Jack Kerouac’s On The Road - A Memorable Journey

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A Memorable Journey

Jack Kerouac's exhuberant novel, On the Road, follows a group of restless young friends criss-crossing America in second-hand cars while finding their 'kicks' in jazz, girls, drugs, and intense conversations about love, poetry, and serenity. Exposing the underground Beat lifestyle of the 1950's, Kerouac celebrates the defiance of a generation chasing the freedom promised by the American Dream while committing themselves to instinct and emotion.

Sal Paradise, a struggling writer living off veteran benefits and a generous aunt, narrates the novel with an awestruck wonder at his collected experiences of traveling the road. Frustrated and stagnate with his negative, bookish, and pretentious friends around campus, Sal yearns for new visions, richer experiences, and a release for the stirrings accumulating in his soul. The unpredictable, dizzying tornado of energy named Dean Moriarty embodies Sal's attitude of the spiritual potential that life contains and Sal "shambles after" him, hoping to reach that potential. Sal's hero is regarded as a long-lost brother and in Dean's "excited way of speaking I [Sal] heard again the voices of old companions and brothers under the bridge..." Born in Denver, Dean's mother died young and his father became a drunk hobo, leaving Dean in a childhood complete with reform school and harmless criminal offenses. Sal explains that Dean's criminality "was not something that sulked and sneered; it was a wild yea-saying overburst of American joy; it was Western, the west wind, an ode from the plains...." Dean's passionate disregard for social responsibility and the chaos he invites into his life, such as juggling two wives and stealing cars, results in a mad dash for the opposite s...

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...ecause it's the same in every corner.....We give and take and go in the incredibly complicated sweetness zigzagging every side," one knows that Dean is sincerely trying to communicate from his heart and not painfully calculating his thoughts. Kerouac seems to write by letting one word spark an idea for the next word until the result reveals an exceptional sentence like, "the only people for me [Sal] are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "AWWW!" The sheer enthusiasm and intense emotions that Kerouac spontaneously invokes makes "On the Road" a memorable journey and novel.
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