Jack Kerouac Dharma Bums Analysis

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There are many ways to identify a seeker. There is a hunger in their eyes, a look of inquisitiveness and often skepticism. They are looking for “the answer” and that search is rarely interrupted. Every experience and every moment is analyzed and scrutinized for its application to their lives. In Jack Kerouac’s Dharma Bums,Viking Press1959 we have a story chock full of seekers. From the narrator Ray and his fellow “bums”, to the poets and people he meets along his journeys across the country and back again. The characters in this novel are searching for something. They have internalized this search and for the main characters it is the teachings of the buddha that best symbolize and fit “the answer” they are looking for. Best symbolize, because the “pick and choose” pragmatism of the characters throughout the story does not truly follow those teachings, they simply have the firmest roots in them. In particular the two major…show more content…
It begs the question of whether or not his celibacy was less a vow to adhere to a philosophical belief or more as a convenient explanation for why he hasn’t been sexually active. We know that his year of celibacy happened to coincide with his previous encounters with Princess “I’d had such idealistic longings for that girl in the past year and had conscience-stricken hours wondering if I should seduce her because she was so young and all (pg 20)”. It seems his celibacy over the last year may have been less about choice and more a way to hide his self doubt and feeling of inadequacy in relation to Princess. Japhy on the other hand is staunch in his declarations of simple living in particular avoiding excesses and vice. When it comes to women and in particular, sexual relations with women, Japhy indulges mightily and without regret. His decidedly pragmatic view of “the buddha” is plainly spoken after his yabyum session with Princess and his fellow

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