Jack Kerouac’s On the Road is considered the bible of the Beat Generation, illustrating the wild, wandering, and reckless lifestyle chosen by many young people of the time. Despite all of Dean and Sal’s partying and pleasure-cruising, On the Road ends up being a sad and disturbing story. During all the trips, through the good times and the bad times, there is a sense of darkness and foreboding following in the wake. Kerouac’s point was not to put on display the wild and good times the Beats were having, but rather to expose their way of life as a simple flight from reality and responsibility. The sadness of this novel is due to the accumulation of consequences stemming from the characters’ irresponsibility and general lack of direction. Dean and Sal, however, never fully admit this to themselves. Part of the story’s beauty is Sal’s non-judgmental narrative. To preserve this, Kerouac must carefully incorporate these views while leaving Sal somewhat oblivious to them. This is done using other characters to implant the notion of looming responsibility and reality into the story, and to communicate to the reader that life really is more serious than Sal admits in his narration.
While Dean’s home base is a wife’s house throughout most of the story, Sal has his aunt, a dependable and caring woman who vocalizes her opinions of his lifestyle and friends. Chapter Five begins with Sal’s brief discussion of her feelings. “My aunt said I was wasting my time hanging around with Dean and his gang. I knew that was wrong, too. Life is life, and kind is kind. (129)” Here Kerouac uses Sal’s own commentary to get his point across. While Sal …
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…een set aside. Carlo continues his speech:
“The days of wrath are yet to come. The balloon won’t sustain you much longer…. You’ll all go flying to the West Coast and come staggering back in search of your stone. (130)”
Is this the ranting of a maniacal typist, or a precise interpretation of reality cleverly inserted by the author? Kerouac’s method of inserting ideas through Sal’s narration allows him to incorporate an important differing point of view that Sal is incapable of until the very end of the story. Had Kerouac not wanted to communicate these ideas, Sal could just as easily have not mentioned these instances, or described them in a different light. Without the opinions of these other characters, the book would be one-sided, and quite a bit more shallow in its message.
Kerouac, Jack.On the Road. New York: Penguin Books, 1975.
Free Henry IV Essays: The Character of Falstaff
The Character of Falstaff in Henry IV
The character of Falstaff, in Shakespeare’s play Henry IV Part One, serves as an emblem of frivolity and carelessness within a world filled with social and political significance. Falstaff scorns the world of politics and moral decisions in favor of existing from moment to moment. Though he dislikes this “other world”, Falstaff realizes he must sometimes come in contact with it. Falstaff’s famous speech in lines 127-139 of Act V shows us how he regards the Prince’s world of honor and duty. Through this speech, Falstaff places himself firmly out of any moral world concerned with justice or honor, instead living for no other reason than life itself.
Falstaff’s speech comes after the King and Prince Hal decide to war against the army of Hotspur. Though they wait on word from Worcester, the probability of conflict seems high. Falstaff knows that when the battle comes, he is going to be in the middle of it. Shortly before his speech on the nature of honor, Falstaff shows fear that he might be hurt. In lines 121-2 Falstaff asks Hal to protect him if he should fall during battle. The Prince’s rejection of the request shows his scorn for Falstaff’s desire to passively preserve only his own life. Throughout the last half of the play, as the Prince drifts away from Falstaff, Falstaff’s role in the action of the play as a whole diminishes. The importance placed upon the idea of honor allows Hal to assume his rightful position beside the King, while Falstaff dims into the background.
Falstaff’s idea of honor is directly linked to his sense of time itself. In the opening lines of his speech, Falstaff says,”‘Tis not due yet: I would be loath to pay him before his day.” (L. 127-8) In this example, God is being related by Falstaff to someone who has set a schedule determining the time and place of everyone’s death. For Falstaff, one’s role in life is not to stray from the path created by that higher Power. The notion of honor, as he later describes in this speech, is a belief through which one can transgress that natural order. He says,”Yea, but how if honor prick me off when I come on?” (L. 130) In order for one to gain honor, one must risk one’s life. This type of gambling is not for Falstaff, as he decides that his own life is more important than,”A word.