Through roots and routes: On the Road's portrayal of an outsider's journey into the meaning of America

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Jack Kerouac believed that his French Canadian roots held the key to his knowledge, despite the fact that he became known as the "principal avatar" of a generation of American youth. In his bestselling autobiographical novel, On the Road, Kerouac splits his ethnic (French) and national (American) sides into two figures, Sal and Dean, to demonstrate the deficits and benefits of both parts of a hyphenated identity. Italian Sal sees himself as the eternal outsider, whereas Dean is America itself. Yet Sal uses his outsider qualities to connect with other outsiders whose "roots" are beyond the limits of nationhood. And Dean, despite the seemingly endless freedom of his "routes" across the country, is stuck in old tropes of Americanness that do not afford him new possibilities. Together, they create a vision of America that is full of its own grandeur, while refusing to be insular.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-103
Number of pages19
JournalCanadian Review of American Studies
Volume39
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009

Keywords

  • Beat generation
  • Ethnicity
  • Franco-American
  • French Canadian
  • Jack Kerouac

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