This read-a-long is hosted by Wallace at Unputdownables.
This post contains spoilers.
- I found this week’s reading as exciting as last week’s. Although he isn’t moving physically, from one place to another, his mind is constantly jumping. Even when at work he’s thinking and doing so many things.
- I find Kerouac’s writing to be full of almost unexpected gems. He’s going on about a car ride or a night at work and then all of a sudden he hits you with a passage that is profound and beautiful. For example, on page 42, after Talking about Dean’s potential: “Marx said ‘Hmm’ in his soul and thought about this.” Kerouac seems to have people converse with their souls, or speak through their souls, often (well, maybe this is the second time). I’d be interested to know what he thinks about the soul–is this a clever turn of phrase or does he believe in the soul? In the idea that someone can know themselves well enough to converse with themselves? I think that, if any group of people knows themselves well enough, it is this group.
- I was SO sad by the response of Rita Bettencourt when Sal asked her what she wanted to do with her life. “‘I don’t know,’ she said. ‘Just wait on tables and try to get along.’ She yawned” (p. 57). I can’t imagine not having personal goals, career aspirations, etc. to work toward. Is this how women were expected to act, what they were expected to want out of life, in this time period, or is Rita just an incredibly boring person? I like that Sal seems to find her boring–he even tells her not to yawn. This means that at least he expects more out of a woman, even if society doesn’t (but doesn’t that seem to be at odds with some of the other attitudes toward women?). I think some research into the pervasive culture of the time might do me some good here.
- I also thought it was interesting that, after he takes Rita home, he says that “sophistication demands that they submit to sex immediately without proper preliminary talk.” This makes me feel as though many of these people are just pretending to fit in with this crowd.
- As far as the sentence structure goes, I LOVE that Kerouac uses my favorite punctuation mark, the semi-colon, so often. I first thought his writing style was a lot like Hemingway’s, and there are similarities, but there are some nuances here that Hemingway’s style doesn’t have. “I didn’t know what to say; he was right; but all I wanted to do was sneak out into the night and disappear somewhere, and go and find out what everybody was going all over the country” (p. 67). The verbiage is similar, I can almost hear Hemingway saying this, but the way it is delivered is so different.
- While on the Hemingway note, does anyone know what story they are referencing on page 78? When Major calls Sal Sam and Sam calls Major Jake? Jake’s in The Sun Also Rises, but I don’t think there’s a Sam… I could be wrong, it’s been a good two years since I’ve read it and a quick check on SparkNotes didn’t help.
- Last note and then I’ll wrap up this novel I’m writing here. I love that Sal expresses some sort of uncertainty/regret at picking up and leaving. On page 75 he says: “Gad, what was I doing three thousand miles from home? Why had I come here?” This makes him more human to me. I have had that moment, where I’m somewhere and just want to be home. This makes his story a bit more real to me.