Kerouac and Burroughs’ Writing Styles. Literature & Language Essay (Essay Sample)
The Beat Generation,
Development of a Prose Style
The writers Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs are celebrated prose stylists. Experimenting with language throughout their careers, they each produced distinctive works of classic American literature, including Kerouac’s novels On the Road, Visions of Cody, and The Dharma Bums, and Burroughs’ Junky, Queer, and Naked Lunch.
Taking an excerpt from any two works by Kerouac and any two works by Burroughs, write an essay showing the development of each of their distinctive styles. You may select the quotations yourself, or use the following:
1. from On the Road, Part One, chapter 1:
“[T]he only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a tiresome thing; but bum, bum, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!.”
From The Dharma Bums:
“What is a rainbow, Lord?
A hoop For the lowly----
The storm went away as swiftly as it came and the late afternoon lake-sparkle blinded me. Late afternoon, my mop drying on the rock. Late afternoon, my bare back cold as I stood above the world in a snowfield digging shovelsful into a pail. Late afternoon, it was I not the void that changed.
2. from Junky, Penguin edition, p. 2:
“At that time I never used any junk and it did not occur to me to try it.”
From Naked Lunch, first page, opening paragraph:
“I can feel the heat closing in, feel them out there making their moves, setting up their devil doll stool pigeons, crooning over my spoon and dropper I throw away at Washington Square Station, vault a turnstile and two flights down the iron stairs, catch an uptown A train...”
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Kerouac and Burroughs’ Writing Styles
The writing styles embraced by both Kerouac and Burroughs evoke particular reactions from their audience. However, the two use language in a poetic manner, making the audience connect to reality in their lives. The following are styles used in different excerpts from Kerouac and Burroughs' works.
First, the excerpt from On the Road reveals one of Kerouac's favorite writing styles, repetition. The author repeats particular words severally within a single sentence to create imagery and emphasis the messages. For instance, the word "mad" appears several times to emphasize people's nature that the narrator loves or keeps company (Kerouac p. 2).
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