Sunday, October 5, 2014

Essay #1 Pre-Write: The Vanishing American Symbol

If one were to see a homeless person in this day and age, what would be the first thing to come to mind? For most, the answer is probably "loser," or "junkie," even so much as "scum." Though if one were to ask Jack Kerouac his opinion on the matter, it would probably be more along the lines of "freedom," and so on. Kerouac, in his piece, The Vanishing American Hobo, makes great claim to the importance of the homeless population. The key aspect of Kerouac's essay is the language he uses to build the hobo as an iconic figure, rather than a slacker. Kerouac uses very positive wording when describing the hobos: phrases like "footwalking freedom" He refers to many historical figures who are well-adored, such as Benjamin Franklin and Walt Whitman, as hobos, using them to bridge the gap between what we consider someone well off and someone who is not. What Kerouac ultimately does with this essay, is solidify the American Hobo as an American symbol. The homeless, according to Kerouac, demonstrate the true values of freedom and exploration that our country was founded upon. Kerouac relates the idea of poverty being a sign of virtue among monks in civilized nations (2977), to the American hobo, who is constantly being harassed by the police. Yet, they still do find their virtue in this solitude. The way Kerouac builds the scene, one imagines a happy lot of homeless fellows, discussing the greater things in life, unrestricted by bills, or a family; they are truly free to live to the fullest.

In this essay, Kerouac shows this affection toward the hobos and their lifestyle, really showing the beauty of it. While he warns of the dangers, he also reflects on the positives. Though this may be, how does Kerouac solidify the hobo as an American symbol in this essay? 

1 comment:

  1. Cory,
    This looks really interesting! Zoom in on how specifically throughout this piece Kerouac romanticizes the hobo and why. I would also consider what effect the long stretches of dialogue serve. Good start and let me know if you have questions or want help!