Quest for Self and Identity in Jack Kerouac’s On The Road Essay

Quest for Self and Identity in Jack Kerouac’s On The Road Essay

Length: 1329 words (3.8 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Quest For Identity In On The Road    


In Jack Kerouac’s ‘On The Road’, the protagonists embark upon a long, arduous quest for human identity. Their aim is to uncover who they truly are, where they fit in the ‘scheme of things’ and what the meaning of life is. They articulate this desire by speaking, during the novel, of the search for ‘IT’, ‘IT’ being human identity. This ‘IT’ is an intangible thing; something that holds a different meaning for every individual. It encompasses all the things humans yearn for – life answers, the meaning of the universe, happiness, enlightenment, self-fulfilment, ‘beatification’ (as articulated by Kerouac). ‘On the Road’ is the story of a desperate search for ‘IT’, in which the protagonists finally come to realise that ‘IT’ is unattainable and time cannot be defied.

The human search for ‘IT’ is never-ending.  Even when we know that the search is virtually impossible, that ‘IT’ is unreachable, that ou...


... middle of paper ...


...iences and thoughts. The novel concludes with the poignant truth humans often try to ignore – that time and aging are inexorable and that the answers to life will most probably never be known to any of us while on earth.

Works Cited:

Kerouac, Jack. On The Road. Penguin Books Limited, New York. 1955.

Honan, Simon. The Beat Generation,  Allen and Unwin Publishing, New York. 1987.

Eliot, T.S. The Collected Works of TS Eliot, Eldridge Publishing Inc, Sydney.1954.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Jack Kerouac’s On The Road - The Spiritual Quest, the Search for Self and Identity

- The Spiritual Quest in On the Road           A disillusioned youth roams the country without truly establishing himself in one of the many cities he falls in love with. In doing so, he manages with the thought or presence of his best friend. What is he searching for. While journeying on the road, Sal Paradise is not searching for a home, a job, or a wife. Instead, he longs for a mental utopia offered by Dean Moriarty. This object of his brotherly love grew up in the streets of America. Through the hardships of continuously being shuffled from city to city, Dean has encompassed what is and what is not important in life....   [tags: On The Road essays]

Strong Essays
1323 words (3.8 pages)

Essay on The Search for Self and Identity in Jack Kerouac’s On The Road

- Quest for Identity in On the Road In Jack Kerouac's novel On the Road, the author tries to convey to the audience that everybody is naturally dishonest and morally deceitful. Morals are defined by one's religion, the laws of the country, or some combination of the two. One's identity captures and plays out that individual’s moral. My morals follow the Christian beliefs, Texas state laws, and the laws of the United States. Although one's own morals can change, basic things such as stealing and murder are wrong and illegal by federal law....   [tags: On The Road essays]

Free Essays
1082 words (3.1 pages)

Quest for Identity in the Victorian Era Essay

- Quest for Identity in the Victorian Era         "'Who are you?' said the caterpillar" to Alice (Carroll 60).  This was a question she could not answer.  Why doesn't Alice know what constitutes her being?  Humans desire completeness, and a solid identity.  Up to the age of Darwinism, that void was filled by religious faith.  But with the emergence of Charles Darwin's theories on natural selection and survival of the fittest, Victorians were reevaluating their paths to righteousness.  Without God as a foundation, what were life's rules?    Peter Bowler argues in Charles Darwin: The Man and His Influence that the old road to salvation had been damaged by one of Darwin's greatest triumph...   [tags: Literature Essays Literary Criticism]

Strong Essays
1884 words (5.4 pages)

Kureishi’s The Buddha of Suburbia: Post-Imperial Vacuity and Quest for Identity

- Immigrants in alien countries are supposed to be the wretched of the earth. In the host countries they feel a sense of dislocation, disintegration, disorientation, unbelongingness and dispossession. A sense of alienation comes to prevail over their life. They are rendered psychologically, politically, existentially and metaphysically unstable in the newly adopted country. They, being uprooted from their native culture try to be accepted by the natives of the host country, but they are utterly shocked by the incompatible culture, way of life and ill treatment and racial slurs at the hands of the inhabitants of the host country....   [tags: immigration, racial prejudice, ethnicity]

Strong Essays
1953 words (5.6 pages)

Quest for Self-Determination in I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings and Lakota Woman

- Quest for Self-Determination in I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings and Lakota Woman       During their growing up years, children struggle to find their personal place in society. It is difficult for children to find their place when they are given numerous advantages, but when a child is oppressed by their parents or grandparents, males in their life, and the dominant culture, the road to achieving self-identity is fraught with enormous obstacles to overcome. Maya Angelou's I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings and Mary Crow Dog's Lakota Woman depict the two women's "triumph over formidable social obstacles and [their] struggle to achieve a sense of identity and self-acceptance" (Draper 1)....   [tags: Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Essays]

Strong Essays
2718 words (7.8 pages)

Identity Transformations from Past to Present Essay

- Every individual has a distinct past that shapes his or her identity. The situations people face may cause them to have distorted perceptions of themselves. These distorted perceptions allow people to lose sight of the important things in life. In order to discover their true selves they will need to create a path for self transformation. Scott Momaday, Victor Joseph and Macklemore have different pasts but all share a common thread of reconnecting with the important things in life. Many variables affect each person’s destiny, but it is their physical and psychological factors that predisposition their vulnerability....   [tags: preceptions, valnerable, destiny]

Strong Essays
1522 words (4.3 pages)

Essay on the Failure of Language in Malcolm and On the Road

- The Failure of Language in Malcolm and On the Road        John Clellon Holmes in his essay "The Philosophy of the Beat Generation" characterized his young contemporaries as deeply spiritual; to him, the very eccentricity of the fifties with their characteristic sexual promiscuity, drug addiction, petty criminality, and heterodox forms of self-expression was an attempt to assert one's individuality in the atmosphere of pervasive conformity of that Golden Age. And judging by the literature of this era from the distance of four decades one might conclude that incessant search for one's true self was, indeed, what this time was all about....   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Strong Essays
1697 words (4.8 pages)

The Quest For Identity Essay examples

- Zora Neal Hurston’s book, Their Eyes Were Watching God, reveals one of life’s most relevant purposes that stretches across cultures and relates to every aspect of enlightenment. The novel examines the life of the strong-willed Janie Crawford, as she goes down the path of self-discovery by way of her past relationships. Ideas regarding the path of liberation date all the way back to the teachings of Siddhartha. Yet, its concept is still recycled in the twenty-first century, as it inspires all humanity to look beyond the “horizon,” as Janie explains....   [tags: Identity]

Strong Essays
645 words (1.8 pages)

My Place by Sally Morgan, The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost, The Transall Saga and Pay it Forward

- The Journey as Depicted in My Place by Sally Morgan, The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost, The Transall Saga and Pay it Forward The inner journey is a concept that has always been debated, and so has its meaning. The word ‘inner’ has the alternative meaning of personal. Moreover, the word journey has an alternative meaning of movement. So, the concept of the inner journey, customarily, has the meaning of a personal movement. Inner journeys have often been described as the metaphor behind a physical journey....   [tags: essays research papers]

Strong Essays
1430 words (4.1 pages)

My Place by Sally Morgan, The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost, The Transall Saga and Pay it Forward

- "The Journey is the reward": Discuss the truth of this statement using the core text, with one piece of text from the BOS booklet together with two pieces of related material. All issues are to speak in relation to Sally Morgan's inner journey. The inner journey is a concept that has always been debated, and so has its meaning. The word ‘inner' has the alternative meaning of personal. Moreover, the word journey has an alternative meaning of movement. So, the concept of the inner journey, customarily, has the meaning of a personal movement....   [tags: Analysis]

Free Essays
1440 words (4.1 pages)