Sunday, October 19, 2014

(Very) Rough Draft

**Please let it be known I have this vigorous writing agenda. This is the first step, which is essentially a stream-of-consciousness form; and also a skeleton of a draft.


            When one pictures the idea of a true American, the first thoughts that pop into their head will be the different symbols we chose to represent ourselves, such as the cowboy. However, if that person is Jack Kerouac, he might give a different answer. That is because in Kerouac’s essay, “The Great American Hobo,” he builds up the homeless as an American symbol of their own. Instead of leaving the hobos “in the dumps,” he chose to idolize them, and give the world a new perspective of them. Through his dreamy descriptions, his various connections made throughout, and his stints of dialogue, Kerouac creates a piece which solidifies the American homeless as an asset to our country, signifying some of our greatest aspects.
            The idea of being homeless has the most negative feeling attached to it. In the media, the homeless are often displayed as drug addicts, psychotics and those who are just too lazy to make anything of themselves. This is not entirely false, but after reading this essay, it is hard to settle with that. Kerouac, throughout the essay, creates the idea of the hobo representing freedom. He does this by using very appealing language, turning the hobo into a wise, respectable character. He describes the hobo as being on this long endeavor, this “idealistic lope to freedom and the hills of holy silence and holy privacy” (2976). Kerouac also describes the homeless lifestyle as “a definite special idea of footwalking freedom” (2977). This use of freedom really solidifies his point. The American hobo is truly the idea of freedom—they have nothing to hold them back, only looking forward to whatever adventure awaits them.
            Throughout “The Vanishing American Hobo,” Kerouac relates the homeless to many famous American idols as a means to break this negative stigma around them. Some of the examples he uses are Johnny Appleseed and Jim Bridger, both important historical figures that led a somewhat hobo lifestyle. Kerouac also relates the hobo to Benjamin Franklin: “Benjamin Franklin was like a hobo in Pennsylvania, he walked through Philly with three big rolls under his arms and a Massachusetts halfpenny on his hat” (2977). This is quite a significant relation, as Benjamin Franklin is one of the founding fathers of our country. He is also an American symbol, not just for his appearance on the hundred-dollar bill, but because of his legacy as a freedom fighter. Relating the hobo to Franklin paints a clear image of what Kerouac sees; a hobo is wise and seeks to learn the truths that one must search for. Kerouac further mentions Walt Whitman and John Muir, a poet and a naturalist/preservationist respectably. He even goes as far to name Teddy Roosevelt—a “political hobo”—and Vachel Lindsay. These connections are not accidental, Kerouac is purposefully relating the homeless to such intelligent, influential figures as a means to solidify their place; these men and women are not losers, and they’re not junkies: they are the artists, they are the geniuses, who strive for more than what they are given. Kerouac describes a hobo smoking his pipe as being similar to men in Japan, who isolate themselves in huts in order to find enlightenment. From this one can assess that Kerouac believes, wholeheartedly, that these people are truly the enlightened ones. When you break from society—a home, a car, taxes, jobs—you find inner peace, this otherwise unattainable sense of being.
            Towards the end of the essay, Kerouac incorporates bits of dialogue, which seem to be his way of giving us a direct example of what a hobo is. Except, instead of coming off as sophisticated, intelligent people, they come off as being rather simple.

            Although Kerouac does not necessarily make the homeless out to be something they’re not, he still manages to solidify their place as an American symbol. They may not be the cleanest, but overall, after reading this essay, one can definitely see how they are the freest people. Isn’t that what everyone really wants: to be free?


  1. I think your thesis is: "Kerouac creates a piece which solidifies the American homeless as an asset to our country signifying some of our greatest aspects." I think you are saying in your essay is Kerouac uses the image of the hobo as a symbol of American freedom and enlightenment. You did a good job with quotes and close reading. I think you did a good job explaining the quotes you used. The only thing I would say negative is the thoughts in paragraph 4 could be more developed. Maybe some quotes in it.

  2. 1. The title, author and all of that good stuff is clearly there, and I really like the idea behind how you introduce the essay, but I felt like the presentation of it was a little matter of fact, rather than really attention grabbing.

    2. "Through his dreamy descriptions, his various connections made throughout, and his stints of dialogue, Kerouac creates a piece which solidifies the American homeless as an asset to our country, signifying some of our greatest aspects." I think what you're saying is that along with the cowboys and pilgrims, hobos should be revered as a classic icon of what it means to be from America.

    3. You did a really good job not just summarizing the text. The old "I already knew all of this, I read the essay for class too." never crossed my mind.

    4. With what you have so far, you haven't really left anything unexplained, I never thought: "so what?"

    5. I didn't really disagree with anything here, but as you already titled it, it is in fact a very rough draft and so far it's really only gone into some of the slightly more basic things, but with more added I can totally see where you're going deeper. Excited to see the rest.

  3. Well for starters I can't really comment about the title because there isn't one, so maybe work on that. I understand though, often the title is the very last thing I write on an essay but it's good to put a few ideas on your post so you can get feed back. A bad title can turn your audience off immediately to your writing. You clearly let me know what and who you were writing about early on and that was nice because I hate to play the guessing game with essays. I believe your thesis is "Through his dreamy descriptions, his various connections made throughout, and his stints of dialogue, Kerouac creates a piece which solidifies the American homeless as an asset to our country, signifying some of our greatest aspects". The only thing I'd say about your thesis, which is something I try to do with my own is to make sure that it can stand alone. If this sentence is read on it's own you'd want the Author's full name and to say what the pieces was by saying it's a piece of literature or even naming it in the thesis. You obviously don't have to that's just something I do so my audience knows "HEY this is what we're talking about and here's where I'm going with it". I'd just say as far as analysis just go even deeper. How is he expressing freedom, does he use a specific type of language, grammar? What is the essence of the dialogue? Use the annotations you wrote on the story to really hype these personal interpretations up and not make it so "quote-explaining sentence-quote-explaining sentence" Your Benjamin Franklin analysis is great, the rest should be a little more "beefed up" like that. As far as textual support I just read this and think, more. You just need more all together, I'm not sure this meets the minimum 4 page length and with that if you continue this pattern I think you'd be on the right path. Your conclusion is really lacking, I don't hate it but I tend to like when a paper is tied into a nice neat bow and you summarize everything you made claims on to really solidify your thesis, also you should probably summarize your thesis in your conclusion to leave your audience with your overall point to end it. But I don't really think I'd say being a hobo is the quintessential pinnacle of freedom. I'm not saying you should change that if that's what the essay did to your view of the American Hobo, I'm just saying that's not necessarily what I surmised from the writing. Great start though. Good luck on your paper.