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Jack Kerouac And The Beat Essay

1719 words - 7 pages

Jack Kerouac and The Beat

     Jack Kerouac, was born on March 12, 1922 in Lowell, Massachusetts, as the youngest of three children.  Jack decided to be a writer after his brother Gerard died at the age of nine.  From the life and death experience of his brother's death, and the Catholic faith of his childhood, he developed a spiritual tendency in his character that would last throughout his life.  The fact that Kerouac was a spiritual "seeker," may be the most vital aspect of his life.  In post WWII, Eisenhower America, Jack Kerouac came from a poor rustic industrial community to change the face of American Culture forever.  He chronicled the wild rebellious culture of "the Beats" in the late 50's and early 60's, paving the way for a more accepting American Society and the tolerance of alternative lifestyles enjoyed today.



    As a Roman Catholic who grew up in Calvinist New England, Jack took in a double dose of guilt and sensitivity to sin.  In his book Dr. Sax his first "bout with sexual desire, masturbation, is interrupted-in a virtual parody of crime and punishment- by the news that his dog had been hit by a car."  Jack probably could have handled this "double dose" trebled by the death of his brother.  Jack gave up Catholicism early on, but carried inside him the "sad peasant mystery of Quebec Catholics "(59 Kerouac).  The Catholic association of Kerouac's thought are as plain as an idea of his total incompatibility with Catholicism, but sometimes mistaken for it" the idea that the suffering oppression are saintly"(17, Victor-Levy).  Kerouac rejected materialism and liberalism of middle class America; for example he was not political or religious but emotional (Rumsey).



    Jack rebelled against what he saw as the stifling, conformist cultural values of the 50's.  He lived in a society that was less spiritual and more materialistic than the last generations society.  This was the cutting edge of a literary movement that broke the back of censorship in this country.  The "spontaneous bop prosody" (34, Giamo) is a writing technique credited to Jack Kerouac.  His technique draws from both "jazz music and the automatic writing style of surrealists" (108, Theado).  The interesting phase of this technique is that it "equals revision with repression" (108, Theado).  This idea for this type of writing came from a friend of Jack's who made the suggestion that he "write the way a painter might sketch"(108, Theado).  It also freed the writer from constraints who then could better articulate the truth.


     Kerouac was obsessed with independence.  He did not want or like to depend on somebody else for support, he even left college to become a lonesome traveler.  Kerouac wanted to persuade his followers to get out and venture the highway, travel the world and find truth in what they encounter.  Kerouac felt one could satisfy their search for happiness using the truth to their advantage.  On the...

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