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Big Sur

Big Sur


by Jack Kerouac

Big Sur Mortality Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #1

But I remember seeing a mess of leaves suddenly go skittering in the wind and into the creek, then floating rapidly down the creek toward the sea, making me feel a nameless horror even then of "Oh my God, we're all being swept away to sea no matter what we know or say or do" -- And a bird who was on a crooked branch is suddenly gone without my even hearing him. (7.5)

Jack's fear of death creeps into the novel early and will play a large part in his impending madness. This is the first clear indication of his obsession with his own mortality.

Quote #2

"Did you write anything? " -- "I wrote the sounds of the sea, I'll tell you all about it -- It was the most happy three weeks of my life dammit. (11.6)

And yet it didn't seem that way when he was at Big Sur. Jack characterizes his time in Big Sur with a false perspective – is the novel similarly tainted by such retrospective wishful thinking? Consider the novel's optimistic ending…

Quote #3

(and animals are so sad and patient I thought as I remembered Tyke's eyes and Alf's eyes, ah death, and to think this strange scandalous death comes also to human beings, yea to Smiler even, poor Smiler, and poor Homer his dog, and all of us) (11.6)

Now we can understand why Jack is so bothered by the death of all these animals: the mortality of others is a reminder that he, too, will die. It's not so much about the animals' mortality as it is about his own mortality.

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