Close Reading of a Passage in Jack Kerouac's "On the Road"

Essay by BobmuhtholHigh School, 11th grade January 2007

download word file, 2 pages 0.0

Downloaded 19 times

"I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up. I had just gotten over a serious illness that I won't bother to talk about, except that it had something to do with the miserably wearing split-up and my feeling that everything was dead."

From On the Road by Jack Kerouac

The above passage is limited to the first two sentences of Kerouac's "On the Road". In the context of the novel as a whole, these sentences introduce the protagonist, who is also the narrator, and a vital character. In addition, the narrator mentions his wife and an illness, but does not indulge the audience at this point; instead, he intentionally keeps any details undisclosed which can presumably be accredited to a method whose purpose is to immediately interest the reader without spoiling the rest of the novel. Also, the passage itself acts as a foreshadowing device of sorts due to the nature of the novel: it is a narration which revolves around the narrator, Dean, and women, all three of which are included here.

The first thing that would be noticed when reading the passage is the use of the pronoun I, thus establishing a narration. After that, the name Dean stands out in the sentence. With the first four words of the passage, it can be determined that the novel is a narrative and that the narrator has an important relationship with a person named Dean. This proves to be a key part in the rest of On the Road as much of the plot involves Dean and all of it involves the narrator.

The diction of the passage is slightly self-conflicting when taken as a whole. Most of the words in the passage are fairly simple and plain, but the use of...