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Essay on Jack Kerouac's On the Road

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Jack Kerouac's On the Road
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     Jack Kerouac is the first to explore the world of the wandering hoboes in his novel, On the Road. He created a world that shows the lives and motivations of this culture he himself named the 'Beats.' Kerouac saw the beats as people who rebel against everything accepted to gain freedom and expression. Although he has been highly criticized for his lack of writing skills, he made a novel that is both realistic and enjoyable to read. He has a complete disregard for developed of plot or characters, yet his descriptions are incredible. Kerouac?s novel On the Road defined the post World War II generation known as the 'beats.'

     The motivation behind the beat movement was their thirst for freedom. They desired freedom from almost everything we take for granted today. ?Central to the beat writers, though little noticed, is the desperate flight from the lower middle class life and its culture of anxiety? (?Jack Kerouac.? Contemporary Literary Criticism, Vol. 14, 305). The beats also had trouble dealing with the social aspects of living. ?In both On The Road and The Dharma Bums this fugue, or flight, is portrayed on the realistic level as an attempt to escape from an intolerable personal or social situation? (Freied 253). They couldn?t deal with the values and expectations of society. ?These men and women reject existing social values largely through misunderstanding them; in the social sense, they are infantile, perversely negative or indifferent? (Baro 281). Sometimes it was theirselves they needed to escape from. Freied states, ?Kerouac?s hoboes are seeking escape- escape not only from the threats of a hostile society, but escape from their own inadequate personalities and unsatisfactory human relationships? (295). What most of the need for escape amounts to is an outlet from life. ?Their much touted ideal of freedom is in reality a freedom from life itself, especially from rational, adult life with its welter of consequences and obligations? (Vopat 304). Vopat also says, ?Kerouac?s characters take to the road not to find life, but to leave it all behind: emotion, maturity, change, decision, purpose, and, especially, in the best American tradition responsibility? (303). They feel any kind of knowledge will be a restraint. ?They avoid anything- self-analysis, self awareness, thinking- that would thre...


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...e of rhythm. It moves along with an almost musical beat that is unique to his writing. Ginsberg says, ?Kerouac was the first writer I ever met who heard his own writing, who listened to his own sentences as if they were musical, rhythmical constructions, and who could follow the sequence of the sentences that make up the paragraph as if he were listening to a jazz riff? (306). Kerouac?s love for jazz music gave him a background for flowing rhythmically in his writing. ?So it was a definite rhythmical squiggle that he was hearing when he was writing prose sentences, a funny body rhythm, a breathing rhythm, and a speech rhythm that he was conscious of when he was writing prose? (306). This rhythm made the book much more enjoyable to read, and gave his writing a superiority to others.

     Jack Kerouac?s On the Road followed the lives of the beat generation and in doing so defined them as a people. His writing is criticized for its poor plot and weak character development, However; its descriptions are incredible. His spontaneous prose method and rhythmical writing gave it a uniqueness that helped make this one of our great novels. It is an educational and enjoyable book to read.


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