Identity on the Go: The Notion of the Road Trip in Jack Kerouac's On the Road and Don DeLillo's Americana
Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
In this essay, I examine similarities and differences in the protagonists of On the Road (1957) by Jack Kerouac, and Americana (1971) by Don DeLillo, with a primary focus on their personal identities, their identities in relation to America’s identity as a country, as well as how their journeys across the American continent are instrumental in developing these. In order to examine this, I will divide the essay into three parts. In the first part, “The Desire for Movement,” I will provide a brief, historical and cultural context for the American predilection for roads and movement. Further, I will display a dismantling of identities in the protagonists which motivates them to embark on road trips. In the second part, “Heading West,” I will present an elucidation of the American notion of the West as a trope of freedom and development, and further that the protagonists share this trope, which justifies why it is the direction, and destination, of their journeys. In the third and last part, “The Return,” I will illustrate what their geographical returns to “the East” (New York) infer in terms of their personal identities. Despite the fact that the protagonists set out on road trips in order to find themselves and their identities, I will argue that they both fail to do so, and further that this is manifested by the act of returning to their geographical starting point. Ultimately, I will argue that there is an additional possibility, which is that Bell, the protagonist of Americana, unlike Paradise, the protagonist of On the Road, does not embark on the road trip in order to find his identity but rather to disconnect from it.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. , 19 p.
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-118490OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-118490DiVA: diva2:823923
Beckman, Frida, Associate Professor
Rasmussen Goloubeva, Irina, Assistant Professor