LITERATURE> : On The Road – Of Poetry and Freedom

There’s something to be said about Kerouac’s prose, it’s concise and sparse but when he allows it to happen, it’s nice stuff:

In the empty Huston streets of four o’clock in the morning a motorcycle kid suddenly roared through, all bespangled and bedecked with glittering buttons, visor, slick black jacket, a Texas poet of the night, girl gripped on his back like a papoose, hair flying, onward-going, singing, "Houston, Austin, Fort Worth, Dallas–and sometimes Kansas City–and sometimes old Antone, ah-haaaaa!"  (p. 150)

Lost in the blips of little escapades here there and everywhere, there is a theme developing (finally) of the narrator really looking for something within himself by observing the friends he spends time with, the people he meets along his adventure.  There’s change, and one that isn’t real good:

In Old Opelousas I went into a grocery store to buy bread and cheese while Dean saw to gas and oil.  It was just a shack; I could hear the family eating supper in the back.  I waited a minute; they went on talking.  I took bread and cheese and slipped out the door.  We  had barely enough money to make Frisco.  Meanwhile Dean took a carton of cigarettes from the gas station and we were stocked for the voyage–gas, oil, cigarettes and food.  Crooks don’t know.  He pointed the car straight down the road.  (p. 149)

So that’s the freedom of the road?  Taking what you need from others so you can ride the highway–note the order in which Kerouac lists the supplies.  Anti-establishment, anti-big business always pisses off the populace.  The middle-aged and elderly complain but accept; youth finds a way around it, justifying their actions by pointing to the corruption at the top.  But two wrongs never made a right, and as youth matures, they mellow.  And the next generation finds a new way around it.

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