Study Guide

Big Sur Chapter 18

By Jack Kerouac

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Chapter 18

  • Jack finds Big Sur to be "as familiar as an old face in an old photograph."
  • Cody has never seen Big Sur before, and he's "very impressed" with the scenery. Cody
  • even seems like a little boy, and Jack remarks that ever since he's come back from San Quentin "there's been something hauntedly boyish about him, as tho prison walls had taken all the adult dark tenseness out of him."
  • Jack finds it amusing that by putting criminals away in prison, we actually "provide them with the means of greater strength for future atrocities glorious and otherwise."
  • Cody's reaction to Big Sur seems largely similar to Jack's – he's in awe and fear of it, and can't believe anyone could spend three weeks here alone. He also notices Alf (the mule) right away.
  • Dave Wain is excited, too, but wishes they'd brought "a bevy of schoolgirls" along with them.
  • On the trip, Monsanto called Patrick McLear, who has come along as well.
  • Jack is depressed when they finally reach the cabin itself – it seems so sad and almost human waiting" for him there.
  • He feels he's neglected it and the animals while he's been gone.
  • Monsanto goes out and starts chopping a tree while his buddy Arthur Ma sits on the porch and sketches the first of his 25 daily drawings. Dave unpacks and Ben wanders around smoking his pipe while Ron readies the steaks for dinner.
  • And Jack is opening several bottles of wine. He's "excited to be with the gang" but "there's a hidden sadness too," confirmed later by Monsanto when he says that "this is the kind of place where a person should really be alone."
  • Later they all walk down to the sea, where Cody reacts, as Jack did, with horror to look up and see the bridge above them. Being a mad driver it's scary for him to see the car overturned below the bridge.
  • When they go back to the cabin, McLear is there with his beautiful wife, who doesn't escape the attention of Dave and Cody.

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