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Big Sur

Big Sur

by Jack Kerouac

Big Sur Analysis

Literary Devices in Big Sur

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Big Sur wouldn't be a Kerouac novel without some veiled references to Jesus, now would it? The first tip-off is the scene that takes place on the creek by Monsanto's cabin. Jack takes deliberate, s...

Setting

From biographical information we know that the morning Jack wakes up in San Francisco, the date is July 25, 1960. In the novel Jack writes that he will go mad "on the fullmoon night of 3 September....

Narrator Point of View

Jack Duluoz narrates the events of the novel in retrospect: he knows what's going to happen at the novel's conclusion, and he guides us through the events with this end in mind. That's why we can p...

Genre

What can make Big Sur seem tricky to classify is the fact that it's a fictional novel, but based on the real events of a six week period in Kerouac's life, and the real people who surround him. Thi...

Tone

You don't need to read beyond the first chapter of Big Sur to determine that this is a dark novel. The first half of the first sentence sets the tone: The church is blowing a sad windblown 'Kathlee...

Writing Style

Kerouac's fame has a lot to do with his unique writing style, and Big Sur is a great example of what makes his writing unique. Kerouac had no problem breaking all the rules, whether speeding on the...

What's Up With the Title?

Big Sur is a coastal region of central California, featuring mountains at the edge of the sea. The result is a beautiful but terrifying series of cliffs that drop straight down into the ocean, a li...

What's Up With the Epigraph?

"My work comprises one vast book like Proust's except that my remembrances are written on the run instead of afterwards in a sick bed. Because of the objections of my early publishers I was not all...

What's Up With the Ending?

The last two chapters of Big Sur deliver what the novel has promised for the last 200 pages or so: a detailed account of Jack's breakdown on the night of September 3rd, 1960. In fact, the novel has...

Plot Analysis

Alcoholism, depression, delirium tremens, nightmares, confusion, guiltWe see immediately why people call Big Sur "dark." Jack wakes up hung over in San Francisco and we know from the start that we'...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Jack's alcoholism/delirium tremens/madnessWe get the sense that Jack has been under this "dark power" for some time now. And in fact, many of these Booker stages are going to have to be somewhat fl...

Three Act Plot Analysis

Jack wakes up drunk in the city, and realizes he needs to get out, and fast. He makes his way to Monsanto's cabin.Jack returns to Big Sur two more times before the novel's climax. In the meantime h...

Trivia

Dave Wain's girlfriend, the brunette named Romana Swartz, is an alter-ego for Lenore Kandel, who after the fiasco immortalized in Big Sur became famous as a writer in her own right. One of her poem...

Steaminess Rating

Everyone's familiar with the sex in On the Road; if you're not, read about it in Shmoop's coverage of On the Road. Just as everything else has grown darker and gloomier for Kerouac, so has sex and...

Allusions

The Subterraneans (author's note)The Dharma Bums (author's note, 11.8)Doctor Sax (author's note)Maggie Cassidy (author's note)Tristessa (author's note)Desolation Angels (author's note)Visions of...

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