Thursday, May 28, 2009

Brief On The Road Review

Hailed as “the novel that defined a generation,” Jack Kerouac’s On the Road grabs the reader by the lapels and takes him or her for a rapid ride through the ups and downs of the nascent “Beat” America of the late 1940s and early 1950s. This tale is based on Kerouac’s own wild experiences with fellow Beat icon, Neal Cassidy.
The story begins in 1947. The narrator is Sal Paradise (Jack Kerouac), a young, intellectual writer; fascinated with America, jazz, women, and drugs, but disgruntled by social norms and middle class conformity. Sal tells us about his friend, Dean Moriarty (Neal Cassidy), who was just released from jail, having been incarcerated for grand theft auto. He describes this as,” the part of my life you could call my life on the road.” To Sal, Dean represents rebellion, nonconformity, freedom, and essentially heroism. As the pair hitchhike across America, they meet a variety of outlandish characters.
As the story progresses Sal slowly begins to see Dean in a new light; he sees him as a failure. Unfortunately, life on the road loses its initial charm. Jack Kerouac’s timeless classic masterfully captures the beginnings of the American underground. His stream of consciousness style of writing invites the reader into the mind of a young, optimistic rebel in the midst of social change.

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