Thursday, November 11, 2010

Traveling through and with Kerouac

Kerouac’s progression of thought and sentence structure is easy to follow, which is funny considering it varies from his short, choppy sentences to long, drawn out sentences that last for a whole paragraph. Either way, Sal's honest tone and frank reflections and observations make his experience relatable to the reader, even if the reader has never had a sort of experience like it.

Or have we? We know that all the authors in the course have created an experience for the reader, be it inviting them on the journey of the characters or thrusting them into a journey of their own. Kerouac, I think is one of the most accommodating of our authors so far, he is relatable and inviting, and is actually having the reader experience his journey with him. Allowing us to take part in his journey in the way he frames it mirrors our journey through in life. One distinguishing thing about Kerouac is the fact there is a huge number of characters we meet, but not all of them stay for a long time in the novel. It is unclear to the reader which characters to pay attention to, which will be back in the novel, and which to simply meet briefly because you will never see them again. Here is an example of how Kerouac frames this experience to mirror our own life experience. When we travel anywhere, and in the journey of life especially, we often don’t know who to pay attention to, which we’ll ever see again.

A retrospective narrator has the potential to create a lot of distance between the reader and the narrator, because the reader knows very little as opposed to the all-knowing narrator. But though Sal clearly knows what will occur when he tells his story, he does not use this to separate himself from the reader. He tells the reader about his journey exactly how he perceived it at the time he was experiencing it. For some, travel is the means to an end: to find something or to see someone. For others, the experience of travel itself is the end. For Sal, his travel is both. Sal also invites us into this experience, because at the beginning we don’t necessarily know why we are traveling to the West with him, we just are. So though we don’t know who to pay attention to and where the book is leading, we hop in the truck, and hitchhike along with him, experiencing life freely and refreshingly. Makes me want to smoke a cigarette.

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