Importance of Mountains in Kerouac's Dharma Bums and Barthelme's The Glass Mountain

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Importance of Mountains in Kerouac's Dharma Bums and Barthelme's The Glass Mountain

Mountains are significant in the writing of Jack Kerouac and Donald Barthelme as symbolic representations of achievement and the isolation of an individual from the masses of the working class in industrialized capitalist American society. The mountains, depicted by Kerouac and Barthelme, rise above the American landscape as majestic entities whose peaks are touched by few enduring and brave souls. The mountains of Kerouac's The Dharma Bums symbolize personal freedom and accomplishment through achieving a connection with nature distant from the constraints of materialism and a polluted industrialized American society. Barthelme's
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The mountains, being so colossal, have many levels and plateaus in which some people may find comfort and a sense of accomplishment where they may choose to live out the remainder of their lives, although they are far from the peak. Morley's decision to stay behind while Japhy and Ray continue their climb to the peak of Matterhorn is comparable to Barthelme's depiction of the crowd on the streets watching cynically as their hero climbs to the golden castle of the glass mountain. This crowd symbolizes the growing middle class, comfortable in their conformity as "working stiffs" and homemakers who do not want to risk their current contentment for a chance to reach the heights of American capitalism. Morley is content to remain a "dreaming spot by the little lake" in the eyes of Ray Smith who is miles ahead on the mountain questioning his own decision to tackle the frightening height of the Matterhorn. (p.82). Morley represents, through his actions, Americans living comfortably, yet always dreaming "the American dream" to be more successful, powerful, or rich as he says "I don't think I can make it. Ill wait here" (P. 81). The plateaus in the "Glass Mountain" are equally represented by small cubicles inside