Jazz in Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" Analytical Essay by Nicky

Jazz in Jack Kerouac's "On the Road"
A look at how jazz was used as a theme in Jack Kerouac's novel, "On the Road."
# 148737 | 1,112 words | 5 sources | MLA | 2011 | US
Published on Nov 03, 2011 in Literature (American) , Music Studies (Blues, Jazz)

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This paper analyzes the theme of American jazz in Jack Kerouac's emblematic novel of beat culture, "On the Road." First, the paper describes jazz, its history and its connection to American culture. Then, the paper then notes how jazz serves as a rhythmic foundation for Keruoac's novel. This is cited in reference to the use of language and its rhythm in the novel. Additionally, the jazz theme can also be applied to race and gender. The paper concludes by stating that the comparisons to jazz are most likely linked to Kerouac's own love of this musical form.

From the Paper:

"This jazz theme in On The Road can also be applied to race and gender, for as Richardson points out, Kerouac utilizes the idea of "whiteness" as contrasted with "blackness," with the first being the so-called WASP or White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, a person who usually shuns
anything to do with black culture, especially jazz music, and sees jazz musicians as peasants or those who wander from place to place, much like gypsies, without putting down social roots. As to "blackness,' this refers to African-Americans like Leadbelly, Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk who stand in stark contrast to "White America" and find pleasure and satisfaction in playing jazz music. For Kerouac and Sal, this "whiteness" is the antithesis of jazz and is symbolized by "a suit of clothes too good to be comfortable" on the body of a jazz-loving, "on the beat" rebel more suited to non-conformity ("Peasant Dreams," Internet).
"Richardson also makes reference to the sound of "squiggling saxophones" which causes the listener, in this case Kerouac and his fellow "beat" travelers, to break into some kind of a Dionysian dance, fueled by wine, marijuana, and sexual debauchery. Also, Richardson mentions "the tenor-man's ecstasy," perhaps symbolically cast as Charlie Parker blowing his saxophone as if in some type of ecstatic musical bliss on the stage."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Kernfeld, Barry, Ed. The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996.
  • Kerouac, Jack. On the Road: 50th Anniversary Edition. New York: Viking Press, 2007.
  • Liukkonen, Petri. "Jack Kerouac (1922-1969)." Books and Writers. Internet. 2008. Retrieved May 16, 2009 from http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/kerouac.htm.
  • Richardson, Mark. "Peasant Dreams: Reading On the Road." Texas Studies in Literature and Language. 43.2 (Summer 2001): 218-27. Internet. 2009. Http://find.galegroup.com/ips/start.do?prodld=IPS.
  • "The Influences of the Beat Generation in Jack Kerouac's Famous Novel On The Road." 2009. Internet. Retrieved May 16, 2009 from http://www.e- scoala.ro/american/essay_beat_generation.html.

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

Jazz in Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" (2011, November 03) Retrieved October 03, 2022, from https://www.academon.com/analytical-essay/jazz-in-jack-kerouac-on-the-road-148737/

MLA Format

"Jazz in Jack Kerouac's "On the Road"" 03 November 2011. Web. 03 October. 2022. <https://www.academon.com/analytical-essay/jazz-in-jack-kerouac-on-the-road-148737/>