Importance of Dean Moriarty in Jack Kerouac’s On The Road
It is Dean Moriarty, in Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, who represents the eternal flame of youth that was adopted by the rebellious youth culture of the Beat Generation. He is free from responsibility, “simply a youth tremendously excited with life…want[ing] so much to live and to get involved with people who would otherwise pay no attention to him” (Kerouac 4). Just as the Greek of the Olympics, “with [the] torch…[that] ignites the pagan dream of immortality” (Rodriguez 1), Dean embodies the almost immortal flame of youth, the eternal “sideburned hero of the snowy West” (Kerouac 2). As “He was the BEAT—the root, the soul of Beatific” (Kerouac 195), Dean embodied and still embodies the spirit of the immortal Beat Generation.
Post-World War Two, the fifties saw the arrival of “juvenile delinquents, motorcycles, and leather jackets…[and the hipsters, who] adopted an ethic at odds with most Americans, and his values and view of the world soon became the Beats’” (Foster 8). The character of Dean Moriarty is literally and figuratively the firebrand of the invincible youth culture known as the Beat Generation, as he was one of “a youth tremendously excited with life…the holy con-man with the shining mind” (Kerouac 5).
The passionate madness of life and rebellious con-man life-styles evinced in the character of Dean Moriarty are symbolic of the generation. Tim Hunt proposes that Sal Paradise, the protagonist or perhaps the conventional man, chooses “his [Dean’s] romanticized version of Denver slum life…[this] represents the New World at its most anarchistic and individualistic apex” (Hunt 39). Because Dean Moriarty holds this carefree and enthusiastic nature of the unconquerable youth of the Beat Generation, and Sal chooses this lifestyle, shows the overall blithe philosophy held in the “New World” known as the Beat Generation. Sal chooses to become “an ‘American’ like Dean, by taking his isolation, his individuality, as an opportunity to ignore death by ignoring time and social pattern” (Hunt 39). It is this ignorance of social pattern that allows Dean to represent the perpetual youth culture of the Beat Generation.
It is the character of Dean Moriarty in which Sal finds the great American hero, the eternal flame of the reckless Beat Generation. Because Jack Kerouac based the character of Dean Moriarty on one of his intimate companions, Neal Cassady, Robert Hipkiss believes that “when Kerouac created Dean Moriarty out of Neal, he created a new symbol of flaming American youth, the American hero of the Beat Generation” (Holstad 1). Symbolic of the youth culture known as the Beat Generation, Dean Moriarty plays the role of the modernized American hero adopted by the rebellious adolescent masses. As Scott Holstad comments, one sees that Dean Moriarty symbolizes the ever-blazing flame of youth, being “the most singular hero of the road America has ever had. Mixing individualism of the...