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The Dharma Bums Literary Analysis

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The mind it not simple, it is not black and white. Instead, the mind is a very complex space filled with various types of emotions and ideals. Throughout The Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouac focuses his attention on an eventful journey, more specifically, enlightenment. Ray Smith (Jack Kerouac) is a man who has been through thousands of life-altering experiences and has let his mind reach its potential of free will. Thankfully, Japhy Ryder (Gary Snyder) guides him into the religion of Buddhism. Buddhism instantly strikes the interest of nature and finding the underlying truth of it. In the 1950s, Buddhism is like a fresh breath of air being able to escape the life of the ordinary through communism and consumerism. Meanwhile escaping ordinary society,…show more content…
Ryder is the guide and inspiration of Smith as he teaches him what life is truly like living as a Dharma Bum. As they approach Matterhorn, they realize that they are an outcast. Matterhorn is filled with hunters. In a metaphorical sense, this outlook of seeing Ryder and Smith can also be replicated the way they are fit in society. Both Ryder and Smith decide their own destiny and how they chose to live life. They want to escape the unproductive life of being victims of consumerism. Instead, they chose a quest to make further endeavors in striving to achieve their idealistic goals. Furthermore, the quest begins to build up as they head towards the mountain. As Ryder, Smith, and tag-a-long Henry Morley make a quest to reach the peak of the mountain, nature gives Smith a new perspective of the world around him. Ray encounters many obstacles like allowing his mental and physical states carry him further. Smith is inexperienced to this new level of struggle. “‘The secret of this kind of climbing, said Japhy, ‘is like Zen. Don’t think. Just dance along.’” (Kerouac, 64) Japhy helps Smith overcome the challenging terrain, yet also his knowledge as well. As they keep climbing up the mountain, Ray starts to notice something important- the new and sensual world around him. As Morley gets chooses to be left behind, Ryder and Smith decide to go on further to finish their personal journeys. The higher they both climb, the more fear Ray Smith develops. This fear can symbolize his hesitation of finding his true inner-self. Perhaps, at that time Smith’s mind was too scared to discover and unfold truth. Smith reluctantly says, “‘Oh why did I ever let myself into this…’I’m staying right here! It’s too high!’” (Kerouac 83) Smith decides to quit for his fear of falling of the mountain, so he says, but it’s evident that it wasn’t the only case. While the audience pleads for Ray to
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