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A Journey Through Genius
On the Road - Jack Kerouac
On the Road - Jack Kerouac
Date: 25/02/02, updated on 25/02/02 (516 review reads)
Advantages: Jack Kerouac's Brilliant Development Of His Characters, Amazing Counterculture Novel, Still Relevant For The Millennium
Disadvantages: Slightly Abstract At Times
Sal Paradise is Jack Kerouac's invention. A carefree youth. Clouded by his own misjudgement on the situation of life, Sal Paradise has no direction in his life. He believes himself to be very much a very spirit. Sal invariably doesn't confine to the rules and regulations that American society has burdened him with. Inevitably, Sal meets and befriends the notorious Dean Moriarty, a parallel to Kerouac's friend Neal Cassady; essentially they are two of the same being. They share the same views and aspirations and so form a relationship that will change their lives forever.
The potholes in the American Dream are the basis for this classic novel of self-realization. How many times has the term The American Dream been used so lightly and freely in literature almost as if to imply it is something that everyone in America has or can experience. Whenever mentioned, I instantly conjure up various connotations that are associated with it. A big car, nice house, a wife and three point four children. Kerouac wants more than this simple cliché, he realises that no everyone can live the American Dream and sets out to expose the injustices and lack of equality in America in an adventurous tale of these two young explorers.
Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty set off for regions of America that they were no supposed to be exposed to. Things and events that their eyes should never have witnessed. Drugs, death and the inner cities brought about the revela
tion that not everyone was living the American Dream in the 1950's. For me, it was fascinating to see how the sheltered boys were suddenly exposed to the reality of the lives of people, they never even knew existed.
Remember the days of the Cold War and McCarthyism, the fear and disapproval of Jazz musician and the desperate necessity for parents to keep their children in order. Sal and Dean are the rebels to convention and this just invigorates the reader and makes the novel even more interesting. Witness Sal and Dean closely relate themselves with 'Jazz' musicians, smoke 'Tea' and generally go against the grain of society.
Sal and Dean find a job working on the crop fields alongside the crop labourers. Their laid back attitude keeps them mentally weak and their "Can't Someone Else Do It" makes for hilarious reading. Jack Kerouac questions the phrase that hard work can get you where you want to get in life. The interesting thing about the author Jack Kerouac is that he is so blatant and fresh in his literature. He coats nothing and leaves things raw such is the drug scenes and Sal and Deans interactions with other characters.
For this reason I don't recommend On The Road to young children, especially if they live in America, this is because On The Road is so harsh. One must remember that Sal and Dean are undirected youth, very influential and the constitutions and morals that they stand for are against the traditional family values.
On The Road is sheer brilliance, it is literature that edges at your mind and inspires thoughts. Jack Kerouac language and characters force you to question the structure of the world. You find yourself realising how we are so controlled by the boundaries that we allow ourselves to be placed within, the Prime Minister, The Tax Collector even the aged man across the road, the one you sense is constantly watching you; what if we were to go agains
t the grain like Sal and Dean. I'm not saying we should, I'm just saying what if, I just questioning the thought of others. Jack Kerouac proves the mind is a powerful thing.