Study Guide

Big Sur Chapter 22

By Jack Kerouac

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Chapter 22

  • Next Ron wants to go to Monterey to see McLear, so Jack sends him on his way, preferring to remain alone at Big Sur.
  • Once he is alone, Jack spends the morning drinking water and suddenly feels right as rain, "just like that suddenly."
  • Jack wonders if maybe the whole crowd of guys is just there to make him go mad. If so, that's why solitude makes him feel better.
  • It seems he's had this paranoia ever since he was a kid.
  • He used to think everyone else in the world knew the secret of the universe and were fooling him every minute of the day. And everyone was waiting for him, Ti Jean, to wake up and see the light.
  • Other times he thought of himself "as a special solitary angel sent down as a messenger from heaven to tell everybody or show everybody" that "they were all on the wrong track."
  • Either way, he's happy to be alone now once again in Big Sur.
  • He feeds Alf and sings and watches the birds "and everything […] seems beautiful again." Even the sea ceases to scare him anymore.
  • He runs to the cabin, has a shot of sherry, and attacks and reads all the books he can find.
  • He takes a nap and dreams of the U.S. Navy. He walks out to the beach at night and tells himself, "You don't have to torture your consciousness with endless thinking" and so strolls around and admires the scenery instead.
  • Then he remembers a quote from the yogi Milarepa: "Though you youngsters of a new generation dwell in towns infested with a deceitful fate, the link of truth still remains. […] When you remain in solitude, do not think of the amusements in the town…You should turn your mind inwardly, and then you'll find your way. […] Like a madman I have no pretension and no hope […] At such a pleasant place, in solitude, I […] happily remain […] The more Ups and Downs the more Joy I feel—the greater the fear, the greater the happiness I feel…"

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