Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums Essay

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Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums

Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums does not fall too far from a basic description of his life. Kerouac spent the bulk of his writing career riding trains from city to city, meeting people and writing books and poetry. He was among the premier writers of the Beat Generation, a group of primarily urban poets and writers who put the basics of life and their spiritual nuances into poetry with a beat. The book, The Dharma Bums, is a window into the daily structure of the Beat Generation.

Kerouac wrote The Dharma Bums while living the life of a bum, riding from city to city as a stowaway on various trains. He used an old portable typewriter that fed from a large roll of paper, into the typewriter, and back into
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He is almost always meticulous in certain aspects of a given scene while leaving out what one would think are important details. However, the descriptions given are always enough to reveal a full, vivid picture of moments, whether only gestures are described or wall paper.

The various scenes of the book are often unexpected, but the matter of fact style of writing usually diffuses. Kerouac creates such a familiarity with his readers that it becomes assumed that any place unusual to the reader is typical for him, and in this way he pulls the reader further into this world of the Beat Generation. Oftentimes the scenes are set in the cramped places such as boxcars and single room shacks frequented by Ray and his friends. Other times the scenes are places like cafe’s and restaurants around San Francisco, San Diego, and other, usually Californian, cities; however some of Kerouac’s most effective place descriptions throughout The Dharma Bums are found in the stories of other places told by those Ray meets, rather than where he actually goes.

Among the most poignant aspects of The Dharma Bums is Kerouac’s ability to use long narratives to pull his readers into the experiences of the characters. The Dharma Bums is replete with the explanation of the experiences of ancient Zen Buddhist thinkers and their experiences as they search for enlightenment. Kerouac constantly accesses the ancient writings of Zen Buddhist monks. Using such writings as a
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