Chamblee54

The Dharma Bums Part Two

Posted in Book Reports by chamblee54 on November 30, 2013

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This is part two of a breakdown on The Dharma Bums. Part one was published a few days ago. Part two is where Ray Smith, Japhy Ryder, and Henry Morley go mountain climbing.

Chapter Six This is where the trip begins. The plan is to go out of town, camp near the trail head, hike to a good place, and then climb to the top of Matterhorn. Henry Morley owns a car, and is recruited to drive. HM is Philip Whalen in real life. He is a bit of a motormouth, with just the barest connection from one sentence to the next. Some have speculated that his rants in tdb are an excuse for Mr. Kerouac to let loose with his typing-not-writing style.

The three stop in a restaurant full of hunters, who are amazed at the concept of hiking without killing animals. The campsite is finally reached in the middle of the night. HM did not bring a sleeping bag.

Chapter Seven This chapter is a return to straightforward prose. The men wake up, go to a diner, and drive to Bridgeport. They will go on to the trail head from there.

This is the second time that PG has read tdb. The first time was in fits and starts. He would read a bit, put it back in his bag, and forget it for a few months. Then came six weeks of working graveyard shift in a midtown office tower. The was a book of short stories by Charles Bukowski in the bag, as a companion to tdb. PG would read a few stories by Mr. Bukowski, and alternate with a chapter or so in tdb. There was one incident during this period, which coincides with chapter fifteen.

Chapter Eight HM is becoming a nuisance. He goes around Bridgeport trying to round up a sleeping bag, and winds up borrowing some blankets from a lodge. The three men get a few miles down the road, and HM realizes that he had not drained his crankcase. He was afraid of the engine freezing over and exploding. This must be before the invention of anti freeze. HM leaves JR and RS, and goes back to drain his crankcase. He will catch up with the other two later.

On page 55, RS says that being in the sunshine infested woods was much better than being in the city. JR replies “Comparisons are odious, Smith”. They have a pleasant afternoon talking to each other, without the constant rattle of HM.

Chapter Nine When Chapter One was published, a commenter mentioned a picture of Jackie Kennedy reading “The Dharma Bums” on an airplane. It turns out that PG had a copy of the picture.

On page 62, RS and JR have a moment that is familiar to many hikers. They are in the woods, surrounded by beauty, and feel the need to be quiet. “This is the way I like it, when you get going there’s no need to talk, as if we were animals and just communicated by silent telepathy.”

On page 67, it is time to cook dinner, and wait for HM. The five steps are tea drinking are discussed. The first sip is joy, the second gladness, the third serenity, the fourth madness, and the fifth ecstasy. PG read this in a workplace breakroom. The tea comes from a machine. You push a button twice, and insert this foil package into the machine. You place a styrofoam cup in a slot, and something called green tea comes out of the machine. It is not cool enough to drink before the break is over. You go directly to the fourth step of tea drinking, madness, when you use this machine.

RS tells JR about a prayer that he knows. He thinks of a person, friend or foe, and says “Joe Blow, equally empty, equally to be loved, equally a coming Buddha. The focus is on the person’s eyes, which are said to be the window to the soul.

This is where PG jumps off the bus. His worst enemy for a few years was the bully for Jesus. This person would lose his temper, and shower PG with verbal poison. While BFJ was distributing this toxin, his eyes were on fire. There was hate in the eyes, and Jesus in the mouth.

Chapter Ten HM finally catches up with JR and RS. This is after RS decides to buy a rucksack, and become a dharma bum. Whether he succeeded is a good question.

Chapter Eleven There is a Zen saying, when you get to the top, keep climbing. This is where the three men leave their gear at camp, and make the push for the Matterhorn peak. HM is the first to sit down and rest. RS almost makes it, but can go no further a few hundred yards from the peak. Only JR makes it to the top, and comes bounding down in twenty yard steps. RS learns, too late, that you cannot fall off the side of a mountain.

Chapter Twelve The three men come down from the mountain. It is soon after dark, and the way is lit by moonlight. RS wishes he had a tape recording of JR shouting on top of the mountain, JR replies that the sound was not meant to be heard by the people below.

On page 93, RS discovers the weak spot of JR. They get into town, and are hungry. JR is afraid to go into one restaurant, because it is too nice. He is finally persuaded to go to the nice restaurant, and it does not kill him. This is the end of part two. Photographs today are from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”.

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3 Responses

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  1. The Dharma Bums Part Three | Chamblee54 said, on December 22, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    […] suggests, this is part three of a breakdown on The Dharma Bums, by Jack Kerouac. Parts one and two are already online. Chapter Thirteen Ray Smith (Jack Kerouac) is back in Berkeley now, staying […]

  2. The Dharma Bums Part Four | Chamblee54 said, on January 13, 2014 at 6:14 am

    […] title suggests, this is part three of a breakdown on The Dharma Bums, by Jack Kerouac. Parts one, two, and three are already online. Tdb is the 1955-1956 story of Ray Smith (Jack Kerouac) and his friend […]

  3. Road Trip | Chamblee54 said, on June 1, 2019 at 5:28 pm

    […] heard things in 35 years, and decided to give OTR another shot. PG read/blogged The Dhama Bums (one two three four) a few years ago. TDB was the follow up to OTR, and is a lot less fun. Back to the […]


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