"When you're on top of a mountain, keep climbing" : Jack Kerouac's path to enlightenment in the Dharma Bums

UNCW Author/Contributor (non-UNCW co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Christopher Baratta (Creator)
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW )
Web Site: http://library.uncw.edu/
Mike Wentworth

Abstract: In his novel The Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouac recounts his journey across the American landscape in the mid-1950s. The emerging corporate, materialistic, consumer driven society that America was becoming didn’t offer individuals like Kerouac and his fellow Beats many avenues for their spiritual pursuits. Using literature as their main instrument, the Beat movement focused on a shift in individual and social consciousness and spiritual freedom. The Dharma Bums illustrates this desire for a new social consciousness, as well as focusing on the journey of an individual toward enlightenment. On his path to enlightenment, Kerouac, as Ray Smith, lives the life of a vagabond, riding the rails, hitchhiking, and abandoning all reliance on material possessions. This intentional marginalization relies on adopting a Buddhist influenced lifestyle, the guidance of Japhy Ryder (Gary Snyder), and a transcendent return to the natural world. This study follows the path of Ray Smith, examining the methods and measures of an individual in pursuit of an understanding of existence and knowledge of the self.

Additional Information

A Thesis Submitted to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement for the Degree of Masters of Arts
Language: English
Date: 2009
Kerouac Jack 1922-1969 The Dharma Bums--Criticism and interpretation
Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969. The Dharma Bums -- Criticism and interpretation

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