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In that Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson begins with a catastrophic car accident in "Car Crash While Hitchhiking," it will come as no surprise that the stories related thereafter are symbolic car wrecks...
...a series of head-on collisions that Johnson’s narrator—an on-the-run junkie—encounters...
The life of the narrator of the book is one long attempt to survive seemingly endless days that are like car wrecks. While Johnson is presenting a literal (and tumultuous) recounting of the narrator's days as he looks for drugs and meets a variety of people, the narrator is figuratively looking for some sense in those days. The details and the faces become mixed up and we realize that they are simply a reflection of the narrator's fragmented existence. While there are themes presented with some of the characters that reflect a search for religion—or at least the easing of the spirit—the narrator is not at this point yet. His search is on-going, but one can assume that if he is even aware of that fact that there is a search, he has no clue how to go about finding a location in the world where peace of mind and/or a healthy spirit have a place.
If I had to write a paper on this book, my thesis statement would probably sound something like this:
In Denis Johnson's non-traditional novel entitled Jesus' Son, the narrator—a "child of God"—is living a fragmented existence; while those around him may be searching for answers, the confusion in his mind and among those he meets keeps the narrator off-balance as he attempts to find meaning in a life that is much like the "car wreck" described in the first chapter, "Car Crash While Hitchhiking."
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