On the Road Questions and Answers
by Jack Kerouac

Start Your Free Trial

What is Jack Kerouac's narrative style in his book On the Road?

Expert Answers info

Robert C. Evans eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write2,994 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Jack Kerouac’s narrative On the Road displays not just one style but various styles of writing, and it is partly this stylistic diversity that gives the book much of its interest and appeal.

Sometimes, for example, the style is simple and plain, showing some of the influence of the no-nonsense phrasing associated with Hemingway:

I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up.

Sometimes the phrasing is suggestive and tantalizing, reminiscent in some ways of the phrasing we associate with Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye:

I had just gotten over a serious illness that I won't bother to talk about . . . .

Sometimes the phrasing manages to seem colloquial and “literary” at the same time:

. . . he was a young jailkid shrouded in mystery.

Sometimes the phrasing uses vivid slang:

Dean was staying in a cold-water pad . . . .

On other occasions it piles on adjectives:

. . . his beautiful little sharp chick Marylou . . . .

At other times the details are precise and almost sensual:

. . ....

(The entire section contains 561 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

check Approved by eNotes Editorial