Thu 13 Apr 2006
The hope of most people is to fit in; to fit in and remain an individual within the group. This hope, this desire, is something that many people struggle with on a daily basis. Fitting in and learning who a person is at their core is something every person can relate to and is one of the main themes running through The Dharma Bums, written by Jack Kerouac. The character of Ray Smith has an undying desire to find who he is and how Buddhism is a part of his life. Throughout the novel there is a struggle between Ray and his desire to follow the ways of Japhy Ryder while remaining his own Buddha. Within the novel are many scenes where Ray waits and follows Japhy’s decisions. While climbing mountains and playing yabyum, Ray commits to an action after being convinced by Japhy Ryder, than later questions his own actions. This is when Ray sees that he is following Japhy’s ways and not following his own path to Buddhism. Though there exists, many scenarios where this occurs, there are also places in the novel where Ray stands up for his beliefs and decides to do things his own way. Scenes where Ray makes the decision to take his own path to Buddhism and fulfillment. In one specific scene, Ray has the realization that he can be his own man and has everything that he needs; there is nothing more he could have to be happy. “Suddenly I was exhilarated to realize I was completely alone and safe and nobody was going to wake me up all night long. What an amazing revelation! And I had everything I needed right on my back…” (Kerouac 154) This enlightenment that Ray has is what the book is about; Ray finding who he is and losing all insecurities. It is a moment where Ray follows Buddhism to its entirety.