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What does On the Road say about belonging?

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brontehannah2 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 15, 2011 at 4:43 PM via web

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What does On the Road say about belonging?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 15, 2011 at 7:26 PM (Answer #1)

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I think that Kerouac's work speaks to the idea that human consciousness is predicated upon the idea that belonging is an important part of being in the world.  Even if one does a good job of rejecting normative social values, there still has to be some level of belonging, or some realm where connection can be formed to substantiate one's identity in the world.  It is here where I think the concept of belonging is most eloquently displayed.  The friendship between Sal and Dean is of vital importance.  Even if they have done a fairly good job of repudiating the society in which they live, they still represent a quality of needing one another, of seeking to belong to one another.  It seems that Kerouac is suggesting that people need to belong to something.  The ending of their separation represents a tinge of unfulfillment towards this idea of belonging.  It is here where I think that the theme is fully recognized.  While society might refer to them as "bums" and while they might reject the very nature of social acceptance, belonging between them is needed.  At some level, people need people and they need to feel they belong.  Dean is at his worst when he no longer belongs, and when he is on his own.

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