The Dharma Bums Questions and Answers
by Jack Kerouac

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What genre is Jack Kerouac's Dharma Bums?

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The Dharma Bums” was written by Jack Kerouac and published in 1958, by Viking Press.  This novel’s genre is considered autobiographical fiction and is a sequel of sorts to “On The Road.”  In this novel Kerouac addresses the theme of spirituality in himself and his friends.    They are experimenting with Buddhism.  Pretty much all of the characters in the novel are based on friends of Kerouac’s.  In “Dharma Bums” the main characters are:

“Japhy Ryder is Gary Snyder, Alvah Goldbook is Allen Ginsberg, and Neal Cassady appears as Cody Pomeray. Kerouac represents himself as Ray Smith. The bow-tied wild-haired old anarchist fud' Rheinhold Cacoethes is Kenneth Rexroth, and Warren Coughlin potrays Phillip Whalen."

The term “Dharma” basically means “your spiritual duty,” or “your place in the universe,” according to the Buddhist and Hindu religions.  Following that train of thought, a “Dharma Bum” is a person who becomes a bum because they feel it is the correct direction for their spiritual life.  

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