Paradoxes Along the Beat Journey in Kerouac's On the Road
Dr. Dominic Ording’s essay titled "Paradoxes Along the Beat Journey in Kerouac's On the Road" will be published in the collection “Highways through the Heartland: American Road Literature”, edited by Ron Primeau and published by EBSCO (Boston, 2013).
This essay examines Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road from a gender and sexuality studies perspective. It focuses on the tensions, paradoxes, and contradictions among the views of narrator Sal Paradise and his road-buddy Dean Moriarty about friendship, masculinity, women, and sexuality. Perhaps the most profound trouble is that, while they claim to reject the conformist and hypocritical moral code of the early post-World War II period, their insistence upon traditional rigid notions of masculinity (e.g., the imperative against appearing vulnerable) threatens their ability to sustain their own ideal of an intimate friendship with each other. As much of the novel takes place “on the move” on highways, the essay will examine the crucial role of The Road as both a means toward spiritual fulfillment and as an exhausting, demoralizing, and potentially destructive influence.