Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Journey of the Road

Anthony Santiago

Travel Literature



Jack Kerouac does a great job of taking readers along his journey in his novel, On the Road. Being a story about travelling the United States and being a fellow traveler across the nation myself, he does a great job of describing his journey and relating to those who may have never experienced it themselves.

In the very beginning of the story, he takes you on a journey. He places readers in the year 1926 and jolts up to 1947, skipping two of the most important events of the 20th Century, The Great Depression and the United States. As readers continue going along, references are made to the Depression such as a moment in the book when Kerouac describes Dean as being “a dust bowl.” Another instance can be found when he is describing Eddie, mentioning that he was a man during the war, indicating he was not drafted for some particular reason. The important of these descriptions could be that Kerouac is attempting to incorporate those events as being modes of travel that people experienced. Rather than mentioning the actual event, he may be trying to inject into the characters he chronicles.

By beginning in New York, as east as possible in the United States, Kerouac shows the beginning point of his narration but as well the starting point of reference for identity. As travelers learn, customs and cultures are strangely different from various regions in the United States. For instance, the East Coast calls carbonated beverages “soda” while traveling to the Midwest; many would learn that many Midwesterners refer it to as “pop”. Being an Ohioan, yes, it is “pop.” I understand the truth unlike these East Coasters. However, this is where Kerouac does a fantastic job. He takes readers along on this journey with him but what is extremely interesting about it is that you don’t have to familiar with these regions. Kerouac does a fantastic job at making it known to readers the special identity of these regions. For instance, he does a fantastic job of describing Chicago. What is extremely important to know is that many East Coasters are unfamiliar with Chicago. For instance, many of friends here at Loyola, Long Islanders and Jersians or whatever they want to be called, have never been to Chicago. Now, being so close to the Windy City, I have been there many times. It serves as “my New York.” Since Kerouac is coming from New Jersey/ New York, his goal is to make it Chicago, make it to that point where he so vastly unfamiliar and out of his sense of security. Once in Chicago, he does a great job of describing what makes that city and as well, how the people resemble their cities. For instance, he describes walking the various neighborhoods around the downtown area, the famous “L”, even going as far to talk about the Loop (Thank God he doesn’t mention O’Hara airport because nowadays, it is absolute mess and since it is so huge, that is one airport you never, ever want to be in).

As Kerouac moves through the United States, he is learning and changing and exemplifying the characteristics of travel that we talked about previously in class. Everywhere he goes, he has a companion, someone to take him around and guide him. Even though it seems that they may not be helpful, the characters had more color and vividness to the journey. As being someone that has learned about myself by traveling across the nation, I understand how important it is to know someone that is familiar with things more so than you. For instance, coming to the East Coast was easier for me because my parents told me the way of life here. We are originally from the Bronx, New York. They left for a better life or rather a different one from the “uniqueness” and different way of life from the city. However, they served as my companions when traveling back home to Bronx and along the East Coast. When going to California, visiting Los Angeles, my cousins served as the mentors for the way of life. Kerouac does a great job to show how someone is needed, no matter how useless they may seem, they are just as important to the whole journey and experience.

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