Part III: Analysis
Jack Kerouac’s On the Road has proven to be the most personally inspiring text we have covered thus far in the course. Startling at the time of its publication, On the Road, along with the work of the emerging Beat Generation, brought about a sea change in society that can still be traced today. Readers were inspired to challenge the conventions of societal norms, as Kerouac, Burroughs and Ginsberg proved that no emotion was too obscene as long as it came from the deepest part of the being. The travel seen in Kerouac’s work is unlike any we have come across this semester, as the rich descriptions of life along the American highway prove that the possibilities of travel are essentially endless. Sal meets momentary friends that change his life forever, eats food he cannot find in New Jersey, and finds himself exposed to the brutal winds and beautiful stars atop the indescribable American expanse. He proves that the world offers too much for our human eyes to ever experience, yet there is no need to not make an attempt. Kerouac transcribed his own adventures into the travels of our beloved narrator, and inspired countless hoards of hipsters to document their lives for all those willing to hear their story.
What I found most interesting about the type of travel Sal embarks upon in On the Road is that it appears to serve as an escape from his problems rather than a route to solving them. Although his experiences bring about a new understanding of life, I feel his intentions are to avoid the real world for as long as possible, “‘Sure, baby, mañana.’ It was always mañana. For the next week that was all I heard – mañana, a lovely word and one that probably means heaven” (94). Although it seems he is running away, I do not see such travel in a negative light. I am inspired by his ambitions of youth to see all he can while the time permits. Once you accept an understanding of your life, you are no longer a youth. Everyone becomes an adult with age, but the zealousness of being young is an aspect of life that only those with an open mind are lucky enough to hold on to.