What is the summary for Big Sur?

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Here is a novel titled after the central part of the California coast. Of course, it is referred to as the Big Sur. Often the author, Jack Kerouac, uses his self-proclaimed alter-ego (Jack Duluoz) to reveal his exploits. This novel is no exception; however, where Kerouac's previous novels show him to be a rambling traveler, this novel shows him to be a successful author on the verge of deterioration.

Duluoz's traveling days are done, and he has succeeded in becoming a successful author ... and a drunk. Duluoz is sick of the fawning public, and sick of writer's block, and everything that has to do with being an author. In order to get away from it all, he goes to seek respite in the cabin in the Big Sur wilderness that belongs to one of his friends. Unfortunately, he also has an affair with that friend's long-time mistress ... and comes home to find out his beloved cat had died. Duluoz makes further mistakes of introducing the mistress to his wife and continuing to drink every time he returns to the city ... all of which add to Duluoz's increasing loneliness in traveling back and forth to the cabin at Big Sur. In fact, the third time, the visit results in Duluoz's nervous breakdown.

In conclusion,  we can say that this is a fictional, yet true, account of what happens when an authorial success turned alcoholic tries to find respite in the wilderness or the suburbs. No true respite can be found.

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shmindle | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 2) Honors

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Big Sur is a novel by Jack Kerouac that chronicles the author's alter ego character Jack Duluoz in 1960. Jack, an alcoholic, has been invited to a secluded cabin in the woods at Big Sur, where he tries to live simply and away from reality. After 3 weeks, Jack returns to San Francisco only to learn of his cat's death. Jack takes this news in a very hard way— an indicator of his mental deterioration. Jack meets his friends, and convinces one of them, Dave, to drive him to his friend Cody's house.  After a retreat in Big Sur with some other friends, Cody brings Dave to see his mistress.  The mistress, named Billie, falls in love with Jack and wants to marry him, even threatening him with death. When Jack brings Billie, and Dave and his girlfriend Romona back to Big Sur, Jack reaches the peak of his delirium. He gets nightmares, hallucinations, and illness. At the end of the book, Jack wakes up from a nap and feels that everything will soon be all right.

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