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How does the first person narration in On the Road affect the novel?

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lainebecool | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 11, 2012 at 8:13 AM via web

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How does the first person narration in On the Road affect the novel?

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tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted January 11, 2012 at 2:00 PM (Answer #1)

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Ah! Good ol' Jack Kerouac! He was one of the most popular Beatniks of the time period.  On the Road was instrumental for popularizing the run-on sentence! What I mean by that is that the Beats believed in the value of a stream of consciousness when writing.  I remember my professor saying over and over again when we were learning this book, "First thought; best thought." And don't we usually think in the first person tense?

Kerouac uses first person tense because he is the observer and the first-hand account witness of the goings-on that he describes. So the first person structure helps him to write whatever comes to his brain at the moment that he thinks about it; believing the whole time that raw language and thoughts could bring about a counsciousness of self not otherwise found in structure, or grammar, or rules of writing.

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