Oh America, home of the red, white, blue, and green. Green as our greenest grass. Green as our forefather George on a one-dollar bill. You too can work your way up our market-economy mountain to your own little green house. Climb the corporate mountain to provide for your wife in her little green dress. With the green beneath your feet, reach for the gold in the sky. Oh America, this mountain is rich. As many Americans eagerly began and continued their climb toward the financial stability the Sixties promised, a counterculture of writers and thinkers emerged seeking to climb their own mountains, to tell their own story of the climb the way they understand it. For Jack Kerouac, the story was The Dharma Bums, where a man discovers himself in the mountains' minimalist, Buddha-like grace. Donald Barthelme borrows America's market-economy mountain of materialism and attempts to reclaim it in his prose poem, "The Glass Mountain." Through their respective mountain narratives, Kerouac and Barthelme fight a personal fight against the raging currents of corporate America.
Jack Kerouac's mountain in The Dharma Bums comes to represent what Kerouac, or rather the main character Ray Smith, conceives as the ideal standard of living. During Ray's climb of Matterhorn with Japhy Ryder, Ray looks at Japhy with a particularly illuminating realization,
[W]hat does he care if he hasn't got any money: he doesn't need money, all he needs is his rucksack with those little plastic bags of dried food and a good pair of shoes and off he goes to enjoy the privileges of a millionaire in surroundings like this. (Kerouac 77)
Ray then resolves to beg...
... middle of paper ...
...nt stories, Jack Kerouac and Donald Barthelme both participate in a personal rebellion against corporate America through their writing. Today, it is difficult to determine what the influence of their rebellion was on corporate America. We can be certain, however, that their resistance of corporate America brought them to a greater understanding of themselves and their surroundings. Not only do Kerouac and Barthelme provide an illuminating glimpse at the transformation of corporate America in the twelve years between the dates the writings were published, but they also allow us a unique look at America's mountains through their eyes.
Barthelme, Donald. "The Glass Mountain." Taking It to the Streets. Ed. Alexander Bloom. Wini Breines. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.
Kerouac, Jack. The Dharma Bums. New York: Penguin Putnam Inc., 1976.
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