On the Road by Jack Kerouac

By
Jack Kerouac's On the Road shines with outrageous travels, soulful characters, and tragic humor. Kerouac's novel is for the youth who are interested in the adventure of finding oneself. Living in the swinging 1950s and driving on the back roads of America, Dean Moriarty, Sal Paradise, and friends travel from New York to California and back. They experience the fifties underground culture of America: jazz, drugs, sex, parties, generosity, hitchhiking, and loose lifestyles.

The main conflict splits into two parts: straightforward and metaphorical. The straightforward conflict is the search for a place to settle down and establish a meaningful living. However, troubled Dean and Sal continue to roam the States and are constantly “on the road” in the search for something new, exciting, and satisfying, which leads to the metaphorical conflict: the characters do not just try to find a home but also try to find themselves.

The theme of finding oneself is ubiquitous and certainly relevant in today's world. Individuals always strive to learn. We strive to learn about who we are and where we will go, which is ultimately what the characters of On the Road try to achieve. Like many others in society, Dean and Sal are never satisfied. They can not find what they want and so wander aimlessly until they obtain at least some sense of themselves.

Kerouac did achieve his aims in portraying his theme accurately, largely due to the fact that the novel is “fictionalized” autobiography. Many of the events in the story happened in Jack's life as well, like the hitchhiking across America, having a friend like Dean with mystic philosophy, and his own searching. Kerouac achieved his aims effectively, for in the end, the two main characters interestingly do role reversal. Sal grows and finds independence. He finds himself a little and can finally stand by himself, no longer leaning on Dean.

I believe this book succeeds in portraying a distinct snapshot of the Beat Generation lifestyle. I believe this book succeeds in teaching a lesson that every one of us have gone or will go through. I believe this book succeeds in exposing raw emotion, finding tragedy in humor and humor in tragedy. Therefore, I recommend this novel for the reader who does not mind chaos, can follow random action, and enjoys learning morals. In conclusion, Jack Kerouac's sad yet comedic On the Road brilliantly renders thought, discussion, controversy, and passion with its quixotic characters and themes fraught with heart and soul.





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