The View from On the Road, The Rhetorical Vision of Jack Kerouac

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Through careful analysis of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, Omar Swartz argues that Kerouac’s influence on American society is largely rhetorical. Kerouac’s significance as a cultural icon can be best understood, Swartz asserts, in terms of traditional rhetorical practices and principles. To Swartz, Kerouac is a rhetor who symbolically reconstructs his world and offers arguments and encouragements for others to follow. Swartz proposes that On the Road constitutes a “rhetorical vision,” a reality-defining discourse suggesting alternative possibilities for growth and change. Swartz asserts that the reader of Kerouac’s On the Road becomes capable of responding to the larger, confusing culture in a strategic manner. Kerouac’s rhetorical vision of an alternative social and cultural reality contributes to the identity of localized cultures within the United States.

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