Part two of Jack Kerouac’s novel, On the Road, gives the reader, for the first time, a close look at the character Dean Moriarty. This section of the novel begins when Dean, his ex-wife Marylou, and his friend Ed, meet up with his closer friend, Sal, at Sal’s brother’s house in Virginia. Sal had not seen Dean for over a year when they suddenly show up on the doorstep. Sal sums up their tale by saying, “So now Dean had come about four thousand miles from Frisco, via Arizona and up to Denver, inside four days, with innumerable adventures sandwiched in, and it was only the beginning” (117). Dean is an individual who has a very enthusiastic and optimistic outlook on life. But attached to his excitement for life is a kind of madness. He is constantly on the go; he is always mapping out his next adventure, so as to not miss out on any excitement. He seems to be obsessed with the idea of time: he fears wasting the little time he has in the world. The way in which the word “time” is emphasized in this novel illustrates how Dean Moriarty is overwhelmed with the sense of living for the day.
A thorough description of Dean is found in the first few pages. Sal describes Dean:
He had become absolutely mad in his movements; he seemed to be doing everything at the same time. It was a shaking of the head, up and down, sideways; jerky, vigorous hands; quick walking, sitting, crossing the legs, uncrossing, getting up, rubbing the hands, rubbing his fly, hitching his pants, looking up and saying ‘Am,’ and sudden slitting of the eyes to see everywhere; and all the time he was grabbing me by the ribs and talking, talking. (114)
Dean’s actions seem to mirror one who is suffering from withd…
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…t, time would be the last thing that that person would want to waste. Dean Moriarty is that person. He is thrilled about living through life’s-endless adventures and experiences, and he works towards accomplishing various endeavors one after the next. If he is not on the move, he is planning his next one. If he is ever stagnant, trapped in one geographical area for too long, he becomes uncomfortable. It is almost as if a madness overtakes him. Dean was brought up in that particular environment, and he will never change.
Kerouac, Jack. On the Road. 1957. New York: Penguin, 1991.
Krupat, Arnold. “Dean Moriarty as Saintly Hero.” On the Road. Text and Criticism. Scott Donaldson, ed. New York: Viking, 1979. 397-410.
Tytell, John. “The Joy of On the Road.” On the Road. Text and Criticism. Scott Donaldson, ed. New York: Viking, 1979. 419-430.
Creativity in Alice Walker’s Color Purple
Expressing Creativity in The Color Purple
In Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, many characters at some point find a way of expressing their artistic creativity. For instance, Celie makes pants, and Shug Avery and Mary Agnes sing. But what is the significance of expressing creativity? If there is a relationship between artistic expression and one’s personal development, what exactly is this relationship? I wish to answer these questions by examining Celie’s case in particular.
The key to the first question lies in the comment Albert makes on life while sewing with Celie on the porch, “If you ast yourself why you black or a man or a woman or a bush it don’t mean nothing if you don’t ast why you here, period” (289-290). It is about existence, about why we are here.
However, this existence is not confirmed by others’ acknowledgement. Rather, it depends only on one’s awareness of one’s own existence. Coming to such recognition, however, is a gradual process divided into several different stages. It starts with a power of creativity within a character (in the context of this novel, primarily a female character) that is unnoticed but screams to be released. When the character, usually with the inspiration of a role model, finds a vent for her creativity, it gushes out like a fountain. The character is often surprised at the art she is capable of creating, and soon comes to admire her own creation and creativity. From here she gains confidence, and comes to realize that she is here for a divine purpose: to express a beauty that God has created.
In Walker’s essay “In Search of Our mothers” Gardens, she talks about the black mothers or grandmothers who are torn by their own creativity:
These grandmothers and mothe…
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…. In making pants, she understands and affirms her own existence, and comes close to God.
Walker, through the story of Celie, describes for us a process of development. It is a search into oneself for the purpose of one’s existence. The answer is that we all possess a creative power that is divine, and when we find it, recognize it, and express it, we show that we are, each of us, God, who creates beauty and loves all.
Walker, Alice. In Search of Our Mothers Gardens. New York: Harcourt Brace
– – -. The Color Purple. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982.
Other Works Consulted
Bloom, Harold ed. Alice Walker (Modern Critical Views). New York: Chelsea,
Dixon, Melvin. Ride Out the Wilderness: Geography and Identity in Afro-American
Literature. Chicago: Univ. of Illinois Press, 1987.