Study Guide

Big Sur Chapter 32

By Jack Kerouac

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Chapter 32

  • While they wait for Dave, Jack and Billie pack up some clothes for Elliot and talk about the dead fish. Jack is still trying to figure out if he caused their death, and is reminded by the fish of the dead otter he saw back at Big Sur.
  • He can't really explain his feelings to Billie "who's all abstract and talking about our abstract soul-meetings in hell."
  • Meanwhile Elliot pulls at Billie and wants to know what's happening.
  • While Jack asks why the fish died, Billie tells him to open his eyes to why God put him here on earth, to stop all his staring and ranting and just be with her.
  • Jack, ashamed, admits to being "a helpless hunk of helpful horse manure" begging her for help.
  • While Billie talks about getting married, Jack sees "raving before [him] the endless yakking kitchen mouthings of life, the long dark grave of tomby talks under midnight kitchen bulbs."
  • Life is "avid and misunderstood," he writes, but it fills him with love to realize that it "nevertheless reaches out skinny skeleton hand" to him and to Billie.
  • Jack ends the chapter with an ominous, "And this is the way it begins."

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