Rebellion Pursuit -Analysis of the Indetenninacy in On the Road

减小字体 增大字体 作者:李红玲  来源  发布时间:2013-01-06 19:05:50

1 Introduction

Indeterminacy is one of the chief characteristics in postmodernism. Due to Ihab Hassan, indeterminacy includes all manner of ambiguities, ruptures, and displacements affecting knowledge and society. Indeterminacy pervades our actions, ideas, and interpretations. It constitutes our world. Indeterminacy in literature can be that the ending of the story doesn’t show a clear result of the event, leaving a few questions for the readers to answer. It can be that the readers could not grasp the author’s original intention when the work was originally created, due to the ambiguous language the author adopted. It also can be that the readers could not get the vivid character images after reading the whole work. In brief, indeterminacy in literature shows in open endings, obscure narration, vague themes, ambiguous languages and indistinctive characters. As one representative of Postmodern literary works, On the Road bears the characteristic of indeterminacy which is prominently displayed in the theme of the work

2 The Rebellion against Traditional Morality

Rebellion against the traditional morality and escaping from the concept of customs of the American middle class are the most obvious themes in On the Road. The theme was identified at the outset of the narrator Sal’s “despair” to his past life. The novel begins with “I had the first meet with Dion shortly after the divorce with my wife” and “I had just recovered from the illness” rather than with the further review and clarification of the past events. For Saar, the history of him as one of the middle class has become meaningless with the coming of Dion. And the family, marriage and education that constitute the cornerstone of American mainstream culture also seem trivial and unnecessary. Therefore, just as Melville’s Ishmael, and Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finland, Sal follows the response from the far to embark on the journey to the west, simply to get rid of the rigidity and hypocrisy of the old suffocating life.

The “rebellion” theme continued to broaden and deepen in the later Saar’s four travel experiences. “A new horizon” Saar desired to explore, on the surface, is the expanse west land behind Dion, in essence, is the values and attitude towards life of the Beat Generation represented by Dion .Thus, in many cases, Saar’s actions and that of the Beat Generation in general sense are indistinguishable. Sal was courageous to break the boundaries between the rich and the poor, whites and people of colors, trying to face with each of his people from the lower classes to establish a meaningful relationship. In a Kerouac’s most wellknown text, Saar spent the most romantic and warm days with Mexican girl Terri in the whole novel, willing to perform the role of black or Mexican farmers. And when he wandered in the streets of Denver the third time, Saar held the suspicion and negativity for his history to the extreme: “I wish I was a black living in Denver or even poor Japanese who do heavy work, or people of what countries, but I am just a white, a poor and desperate ‘white’ ”.

Deviant themes have been more fully reflected in Dion’s experience, as he embodied the main features of Beat Generation like antiauthority and tradition, populace and mysticism and so on. For the people keen on putting On the Road as the thorough representative of “beat” literary, Dion is undoubtedly the hero of the novel. Before Dion met with Saar, Dion had a third time to stay in a youth custody, and has maintained the record of the number of cars he stole in Denver. Believing in that “sex” is the only most important and sacred thing in life, he was married three times, mixing in the middle of married and unmarried wives, and also had casual sex with other women.

3 The Pursuit to the Spiritual Freedom

At the mention of Beat Generation, people always think of their rebellious behaviors as mentioned above all. Dissatisfied with the real world, discontent of the middle class’s safe playing, they do all the things to pursue their spiritual things, a kind of attitude towards life far from the only material. The bunch of crazy men and women in On the Road, holding the attitude of running counter to all the universallyrecognized things in life, are brave in exploring individual freedom, which is a heavy blow on the “American Dream”.

“American Dream” began with the Puritan immigrants’ desire and dream of free religion and free creation. In the process of opening up of the west, it evolved into the pursuit of happiness, especially in the pursuit of success, including career, love, wealth, etc... After the Civil War, with the industrialization process indepth and the metropolis in succession, the “American dream” specifically turns into the desire and pursuit of money, which ensures people that in US, every one has equal opportunity, through the hard work; a child with no shoes to wear can be a millionaire and get happy. This beautified idealism of life lost its previous charm before people like Dion living in the margins of society, ignoring money, responsibilities, class, race etc…Apart from material life, spiritual life is still needed and in a relatively affluent society and the spiritual life is often more important than material life.

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