On The Road: American Dream Essay

1237 words - 5 pages

According to Merriam-Webster`s Collegiate Dictionary, the American dream is “an American social ideal that stresses egalitarianism and especially, material prosperity; also: the prosperity or life that is realisation of this ideal.” It is well in line to view the American dream as a set of rules for achieving success. This is even more stressed when President Bill Clinton says that "if you work hard and play by the rules you should be given a chance to go as far as your God-given ability will take you.” More so, The Declaration of Independence of 1776 states that “All men are created equal…endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights…Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” ...view middle of the document...

I had just gotten over a serious illness… and my feeling that everything was dead”(1). According to Sal, a pseudonym for Jack Kerouac, his first meeting with Dean began his life on the road. It follows that he has failed to find authencity with the mainstream life of the American dream. Sal admires Dean at first when he says, “My first impression of Dean was of a young Gene Autry…a sideburned hero of the snowy West.” More so, for his anarchic way of life, he even once refers to him as “some long-lost brother”(7). Dean was a paradigm for a hedonist. Sal refers to him as “mad” and “crazy” repeatedly (Part 1: Chapter 7: 43). Dean is married to three women but rarely plays the role of a good father or a husband. Sal sees him as a symbol of freedom and self-gratification. However, as the plot progresses, Sal`s view of Dean gradually diminishes to a dismissive notion. This is noted when they visit Old Bull Lee on their second journey to New Orleans and Old bull Lee confides in Sal saying, “He seems to me headed for his ideal fate, which is compulsive psychosis dashed with a jigger of psycho¬pathic irresponsibility and violence.”(147) From that point on, Sal starts to have an ambivalent view of dean and what he stands for - the alternate American dream. This contradictory feeling intensifies as the plot grows as Sal realizes that there is more to the American dream than life on the road and self-gratification. As the plot grows, Jack Kerouac exposes the character of Dean Moriarty. For example; Galatea maligns Dean when she says, “…absolutely no regard for anybody but yourself and your damned kicks. All you think about is what`s hanging between your legs and how much money or fun you can get out of people and then just throw them aside…It never occurs to you that life is serious and there are people trying to get something decent out of it…”(194) Dean epitomizes the beat. The beat`s dream is a search for meaning and authencity in life; a quest for the “Holy grail.” For this they would spend time on the road, getting involved in drugs, promiscuity and homosexuality. However, like the dream of Dean to find his father that was never found, the alternate American dream is never actualy found.(307)
Furthermore, Jack Kerouac`s identification with racial minorities in relation to the American dream and the beat culture is very interesting. Jazz music in the 1940`s was a symbol for the African americans who had no access to...

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