Sunday, October 5, 2014

Prewrting 1-3

As I read and reread Jack Kerouac's, The Vanishing American Hobo, I wondered about the use of his hierarchy of hobos.  He uses the word hobo and bum but interchangeably. He carefully delineates the two.  Hobos are described in positive terms and he uses for example a wide variety of notable historical figures. When he is writing about the bums his words are negative and the examples of bums are unknown men off the street.  His repeated use of the word freedom in connection with the idea of a hobo jumped out at me while reading this story.  The two things seem in contrast to one another.  His references to Buddhism and enlightenment also seem to be in contrast with the hobos life. Is Kerouac's use of the hierarchy of hobos meant as a symbol of the freedom of the individual who does not conform to the mainstream culture and its prefabricated way of thinking? A more enlightened way of life? And is the skid row bum the symbol for the worn- out, spiritually bankrupt individual who blindly follows society's norms?

1 comment:

  1. Sarah,
    Great start! Keep going! We might also ask if in creating this distinction Kerouac doesn't fall victim himself to the same sort of judgment he accuses society of...non-conformity is only admirable and romantic if you are non-conforming the way I think it should be done?