© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Big Sur

Big Sur

by Jack Kerouac

Mortality Quotes Page 2

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #4

But now George has TB and they tell me he may even die... Which adds to that darkness in my mind, all these DEATH things piling up suddenly -- But I cant believe old Zen Master George is going to allow his body to die. (78.10)

It's interesting that Jack gives such agency to Baso (with the phrase "let" his body die). How much control does Jack have, on that note, over his own physical suffering in Big Sur?

Quote #5

"Look out there floating in the sea weeds, a dead otter! " -- And sure enough it is a dead otter I guess, a big brown pale lump floating up and down mournfully with the swells and ghastly weeds, my otter, my dear otter, my dear otter I'd written poems about -- "Why did he die? " I ask myself in despair -- "Why do they do that?" -- "What's the sense of all this? " -- All the fellows are shading their eyes to get a better look at the big peaceful tortured hunk of seacow out there as tho it's something of passing interest while tome it's a blow across the eyes and down into my heart (21.6)

Part of what makes these signposts of mortality so painful for Jack is that he is alone in his horror; no one shares his reaction, nor can anyone really understand it.

Quote #6

Because a new love affair always gives hope, the irrational mortal loneliness is always crowned, that thing I saw (that horror of snake emptiness) when I took the deep iodine deathbreath on the Big Sur beach is now justified and hosannah'd and raised up like a sacred urn to Heaven in the mere fact of the taking off of clothes and clashing wits and bodies in the inexpressibly nervously sad delight of love... (26.6)

For Jack, the appeal of sex is its ability to distract him from his delirium.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement