I feel that Kerouac’s strengths are to have the ability to write genuinely about a humanitarian experience from the lense of being an equal to those who really are living in poverty and through hardship (for instance Tristessa and when he stays with a Mexican woman and lives there and works as a cotton picker as Professor Wilson mentioned in lecture) and not a foreigner. He really has a public-spirited passion to deeply connect with his experiences and the people he comes across which he conveys through his writing. Not only is that seen through Tristessa but also in Dharma Bums when he runs over to buy this homeless man some cheese and wine and really connects with him. He has an altruistic motive to connect with people and really take the time to talk and hear their stories in these two writing pieces.
It is also very interesting that he creates a vision of what his writing might sound like to a musical beat, a type of musical beat that originates from a place of hurt yet uplifting to those who have felt distress of any sort. What I mean by that is that the blues originated from folk singing, songs that African Americans used to sing when they were working hard all day long with little to pay. These songs were meant to get them through the work day and through the hardships. In trying to familiarize oneself with poverty, misery and hardship, one has to strip themselves from privilege and power and just taking experiences for what they are, lessons about how others live. It couldn’t be done in a better way than Jack Kerouac’s journeys, it is so admirable that he genuinely chooses to live a simple lifestyle when he comes from wealth. He can elaborate and expand on that really well in his writing, I love the one where he says, “Go moan, go groan, go groan alone, go roll your bones, alone.” Vivid language, for a generation whose members were deemed vagabonds for wanting to experience life as fully as permitted on this earth (with all the drugs, pot and sex). All these people including Jack Kerouac were such kind hearted and intelligent people who genuinely cared about other human beings. Jack Kerouac was one of the most religious of the bunch to be honest, he is constantly referencing religion and his moral values.
However, Jack Kerouac couldn’t balance everything, he definitely had a fixed set of unchaste values. He was with more than one woman throughout his time becoming this leading figure of the Beat movement and had no problem leaving her out in the cold for the next girl, not to mention his alcohol abuse problem. It seemed as if the women who were closest to him were outright hurt by his sudden action to move on, but all couldn’t be blamed on Jack Kerouac since this was an era of experimentation whether it be with sexuality or drugs, nothing was really certain. A quote from Joyce Johnson I really liked and encompasses a little bit of this is, “I hate Jack’s woman-hatred, hate it, mourn it, understand and forgive (175).” These women had to come into the relationship knowing that Jack Kerouac was going to be Jack Kerouac and not settle for too long in one place. Also they had to come to terms with that his work was becoming more widespread and passion involved going out into the world on his own, he did not need extra baggage especially traveling by hitch hiking and greyhound.