Study Guide

Big Sur Chapter 35

By Jack Kerouac

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Chapter 35

  • Jack's paranoia extends even to sex – he interprets his orgasm with Billie as "some token venom that splits up in the body," making him hate himself and everyone around him. He writes: "I've been robbed of my spinal power right down the middle on purpose by a great witching force."
  • Leaving Billie, he runs down to the creek to drink some water.
  • She really should get to a nunnery, he thinks.
  • But things are no better at the creek; the water tastes funny, like someone dumped gasoline upstream, he thinks. Slowly being taken over by his paranoia, Jack thinks that the neighbors did it on purpose to poison him.
  • Jack is still sitting by the creek "like an idiot" when Dave Wain comes by with a "measily but beautiful pathetic and as you'll see holy little rainbow sea trout."
  • Right away Dave shows Jack how to clean the fish and prepare it for dinner.
  • Dave thinks fishing is the greatest thing in the world and intends to spend his life doing it. "Clean hard work is the savior of us all," he says.
  • While Dave talks, Jack suspects that Billie is back at the cabin telling Romana about Jack's madness, and that Dave also has a good idea of what's going on with him.
  • Jack also marvels at Dave: the man can spend weeks drinking, like Jack, but doesn't suffer from withdrawal as Jack does. He is amazed that Dave can be useful and normal and make small talk.
  • Jack feels he's "the only person in the world who is devoid of humanbeingness."
  • Dave comments that Jack should cut back on the drinking, and chuckles that this little holy fish will heal him.
  • Looking at the fish, however, Jack feels sick again, as he's faced with yet another dead creature and the realization of mortality yet again. Both men know that hours ago the fish was happily swimming along in the sea.
  • Jack feels so sick that he suggests he can't stay at Big Sur for the week, as was the original plan.
  • "I think I'll die here," he says.
  • Dave is disappointed at the thought of leaving early, and Jack feels like a rat for dragging him away from city life to the wilderness and then bailing.

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