Books and Movies Reviews

Era of Inequality

The women in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road were, it seems, not afforded the same depth in character which the author gave the men. The treatment of the women characters in both word and action by Sal and Dean seems to show that women could only be an Eve figure or a Lilith referring to Biblical analogies. Throughout the novel there are many instances in which women and their feelings or actions are either referred to flippantly or blatantly degraded. It can be said, however, that Sal (Kerouac) did not necessarily agree with this narrow female identity, and there is evidence to support this claim. The novel also shows, though, that Sal did participate in this male forced female stereotyping whether he wanted to or not. This is not to say that Sal (Kerouac) is necessarily malicious in his treatment of women but more possibly he is merely acting in accordance with the way he was raised and the way in which society treated women at the time. In effect while Sal and the novel may try to make points against the poor treatment of women, the novel tends to reinforce the sexist male domination at the time. The novel, on a certain level endorses the narrow female identity and the femme fatale dichotomy contained therein, while at the same time attempting unsuccessfully to rise above the limited female identity.
Women play a key role in this novel in many ways. In the case of Dean, for example, there always seems to be a woman around to make his experiences more real to him somehow. So, in consequence, there are many instances of the diminishment of the female identity. These can be seen in the novels treatment of the female characters like Marylou, Sal’s Aunt, and Terry. Marylou is repeatedly talked about, not talked to. In the part in which Dean wishes Sal to sleep with Marylou the only dialogue that goes on is either Sal’s or Dean’s. Marylou has no lines. All she really has is a little “go ahead”. That is all and that really does not even impl…


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