The Dharma Bums Part Three

Posted in Book Reports by chamblee54 on December 22, 2013







As the title 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 with Alvah Goldbook (Allen Ginsberg.) One night, Japhy Ryder (Gary Snyder) and Warren Coughlin (Phil Whalen) come by. A jug of wine appears, and is consumed. Many things are said. “Every thing was fine with the Zen Lunatics, the nut wagon was too far away to hear us.

Evidently, AG was not a Buddhist in those days. For that matter, PG does not know if he ever really was. Mr. Google supplies a link to a feature, Iconic poet and Buddhist Allen Ginsberg remembered… There is a picture of a naked AG, with an asian picture making the picture safe for family viewing. In this chapter, however, AG says “balls on the old tired Dharma.”

Chapter Fourteen RS is getting ready to hit the road. Here, he goes shopping with AG and JR. They go to Goodwill and an Army Navy store. In 1955, Army Navy stores were good places to shop.

Chapter Fifteen This is a dramatic chapter. A character named Cody appears. He is based on Neal Cassady, Kerouac’s travel companion in “On The Road.” Mr. Cassady is a legendary wildman. In this episode, he has a gf named Rosie, who is not feeling well. Cody asks RS to look out for Rosie one night. “All right, but I was planning on having fun tonight,” “Fun isn’t everything. You’ve got some responsibilities sometimes, you know.”

So Rosie is not feeling well. She is talking a lot of paranoid nonsense. RS tries to calm Rosie down with talk about Dharma. Finally, she seems to be better, and RS goes to sleep. Rosie goes up an the roof of the building, breaks the skylights, cuts her wrists with the broken glass, and jumps. Six stories later, she lands on the sidewalk.It was not a gentle landing.

When PG first read this, he was working graveyard shift in a midtown document center. At seven am, he would walk to the train station. The first few times he went, the first train to come was the Doraville line. On the Marta system, there is the Doraville line, and the North Springs line. If you get on the wrong one, you will feel very foolish.

The morning he read chapter fifteen, PG got on the train without looking at the sign. When it went past Lenox Square, he wondered why the stores were on the right side of the train, instead of the left side. Before long, he was in the tunnel that goes under Peachtree Road. This was the North Springs line. PG got off at the first station, and waited for a train to take him to a place where he could transfer to the proper line. While waiting on the southbound train, he read the story of Rosie.

Chapter Sixteen RS finally gets on the road. He is going back to North Carolina to spend the winter with his family. Before leaving California, he wanders through San Francisco. There is a “Negro preacher,” “a big fat woman like Ma Rainey,” who is preaching up a storm. Every now and then she “spits about ten foot away a great sploosh of spit.” This is one reason why she is preaching indoors.

Cody is very sad about Rosie. He is praying hard, trying to get her into purgatory. Before RS leaves for North Carolina, Cody tells hime “Don’t drink so much of that old wine.” Finally, RS gets on a freight train. He rides it to Los Angeles. A bum tells him to cure his ailments by standing on his head.

Chapter Seventeen Nothing much happens in this chapter. RS is in Riverside CA. He is warned not to camp outdoors, but does so anyway. He gets away with it.

Chapter Eighteen The hit song when this took place was “Everybody’s got a home but me,” by Roy Hamilton. Mr. Hamilton is a black man from Leesburg GA, who is mostly forgotten today. If you look for “Everybody’s…” on youtube, you will find a “cover” version by Eddie Fisher. Mr. Fisher is best known as the father of Princess Leia, and one of Elizabeth Taylor’s husbands.

RS starts to hitchhike here. He meets a truckdriver named Beaudry, who takes him to Ohio. He gets a bus ticket there for Rocky Mount, NC. RS arrives home on Christmas Eve.

Beaudry Ford was the largest Ford Dealer in the United States. It was located in Downtown Atlanta. They did a lot of fleet sales, which is why they were the largest dealer. They did not do a lot of retail. They shut down several years ago.

Chapter Nineteen RS spends the winter at the family home. Most of his time is spent meditating in the woods. He thinks he is receiving profound insights during these sessions. Rocky Mount is the childhood home of Allen Gurganus, who would have been seven years old during this winter. It is unlikely that he was involved in the story.

Chapter Twenty The winter of meditation gets colder and colder. RS is not getting along with his family. They do not understand that RS is a special person.

Chapter Twenty One The winter in North Carolina is coming to an end. RS writes off, and lines up a job as a fire lookout in Washington state. Meanwhile, RS is “as nutty as a fruitcake and happier.” He composes the prayer of emptiness. “My pride is hurt, that is emptiness, my business is with the Dharma, that is emptiness, I’m proud of my kindness to animals, that is emptiness, my conception of the chain, that is emptiness, Ananda’s pity, even that is emptiness.”

Ultimately, the whole matter goes to the dogs. “I petted the dogs who don’t argue with me ever. All dogs love G-d. They’re wiser than their masters. I told that to the dogs, too, they listened to me perking up their ears and licking my face.” Soon after this, the brother in law of RS blows up about his deadbeat in law who lets the dog off the chain. Soon, RS is on the road again, going back to California. This is the end of part three. Pictures are from The Library of Congress.







3 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

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

    […] 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 Japhy […]

  2. Allan Gurganus | Chamblee54 said, on August 31, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    […] to sell. While walking with the author into the book signing, PG got to ask his question. In the Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouac spent the winter in Rocky Mount, NC. It really did happen. The tree where Mr. Kerouac […]

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

    […] 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 […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: