Dharma Bums

Jack Kerouac's Fear of Women and Lust

In Jack Kerouac's novels and poetry he is always searching for something to believe in, be it himself, God, or something else. Surprisingly, he manages to also simultaneously be constantly running away. Fear of responsibility and conformity is present in the majority of his works; this is the reason for his elusiveness, and the constant desire and search for a path far removed from the traditional ho-hum home-life leads him to Buddhism, which was then a novel concept in America. Kerouac's newfound beliefs lead him to be zealously against lust, because it leads to the formation of karma: lust leads to birth, which leads to suffering, which leads to death, which leads to the continuation of the cycle.

In Dharma Bums, Ray Smith (Kerouac's pseudonym for himself) had "gone through an entire year of celibacy based on [his] feeling that lust was the direct cause of . . . suffering and death." He even claimed to have "come to a point where [he] regarded lust as offensive and even cruel." Due to the "absence of active lust," Smith had a "new peaceful life that [he] was enjoying a great deal" (Kerouac Dharma Bums, 29). Robert A. Hipkiss addresses this when he states Kerouac's belief...

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