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Big Sur Questions
Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.
- Check out the poem, "Sea," appended to the novel. How do the verses reflect Kerouac's mood at the time of its composition (narrated in Chapter Seven)? How does the addition of this poem add to our understanding of the novel itself?
- Look at the way Big Sur is divided into so many (38) brief chapters. What is the effect of this structuring? How does Kerouac encapsulate each episode within chapter divisions?
- Now think about the structuring of Big Sur as marked by Jack's three visits to Monsanto's cabin. How do these visits divide the novel? What changes (in Jack, in the novel's mood or style) do you notice from one trip to the next?
- Compare the first and last visits (one in solitude, one in the company of others) – how do these visits to Big Sur bookend the novel?
- Is Jack's friendship with Cody ultimately beneficial or destructive to Jack in this novel?
- Consider Kerouac's narrative technique in Big Sur. How does he switch between scenes in his novel? How does he deal with gaps in time and place between episodes? Are these decisions well suited to the novel's content and mood?