For me, the most striking part of the book was the last scene. Ray was leaving his summer post of a fire watchmen and had a vision of in the fog. This Japyh that he pictured was not an accurate depiction of Japhy, the man who Ray had grown to love, rather a idealistic interoperation of the perfect Chinese bum. He expresses his overwhelming thanks for their friendships, and realizes that they share a special bond, a bond which is is based on a deep spiritual understanding, that not many share.For me this passage shows that Ray's journey is over. This scene, in the middle of nowhere, shows that Ray has reached the pinnacle of his journey. He is at peace with his role in the world. He has been the traveling bum, found his place with Buddhism, and has a truly close friend. He is done, and although I can never see Ray settle down (which is ironic knowing Jack's place of death) he can now approach life knowing he has a solid footing.
One of the most striking scenes in the book for me, was in chapter 18, as Ray is driven home by Beaudry, a truck driver. The experiences that the two have are very wholesome and simple. They tell stories, eat a ton of food, and party. After Ray's interactions with multiple Bums who live a somewhat ascetic and devoted lifestyle, I liked reading about a character with whom Ray could enjoy a somewhat normal lifestyle. A passage that in my opinion summed up their relationship was on page 130, where Ray describes Beaudry as simply "great". Beaudry is not a bum but I liked how he was still someone that Ray admired. He is a character who is full of life and happy, and I liked how he is portrayed as a simple man. I thought that it made sense for Ray to end his journey home, with a character who represents a typical lifestyle. In my opinion it marked his transition into his old life, a life with his family. What I really liked about their interaction was that I found it to be very similar to McCandless's interactions in Into the Wild. I liked how despite the differences between the two characters, their journeys were similar. McCandless came across all sorts of interesting people on his journey of self discovery and that aspect was common in Ray's journey as well.
The scene at the very beginning of chapter 12 was one of my favorites of the entire book. It begins with Ray, who, at the end of chapter 11 is in a dreadful mood due to the many near death encounters, the grim cold, and the lack of food. Upon seeing Japhy’s thrill of running down this mountain, Ray comes to a realization. He tells himself “it’s impossible to fall off of mountains” and all at once releases his irritable feelings. He finds himself running down the mountain as well, chasing after Ray. In this passage, Jack Kerouac uses imagery to convey Japhy’s feeling of freedom and happiness. It is very easy to create a picture of the both of them leaping down the trails and bounding over rocks while exerting screams of joy. They seem so sincerely happy in this passage, more so than in a good portion of the book, which is one of the reasons I find it so hard to follow.
A scene that really stood out to me as I reflect back on the second half of the chapters is the scene in chapter twelve when Ray and Japhy are climbing the Matterhorn. Ray looks up and is astounded to see Japhy bounding and leaping fearlessly down the mountain.Ray then has an apparation- that "it's impossible to fall off mountains, you fool!" - and imitates his co-climber, screaming back to camp. He tells Japhy that his mountaintop yodeling is the most beautiful sound he has ever heard and that he wishes it could be recorded, but Japhy seriously asserts that such a thing is not meant for those unwilling to climb the mountain themselves. I remember this scene being significant because Ray is pretty much at the pinnacle of pessimism leading up to this point, and then suddenly changes his mind and decides to give rock climbing a try. The excerpt uses rambling sentences and strong imagery and portrays the dramatic mood swings and changes of Ray's personality. It is impossible to ignore how much Ray's mood oscillates in this chapter. When he is huddled near the top of Matterhorn, he can think only of coming down; when he descends the mountain, he wants nothing more than to go back up. Even Ray takes a somewhat objective perspective on his own emotions as when he says, for example, that "Whether you can fall off a mountain or not I don't know, but I had learned that you can't.
For me, the most striking scene is the one that involves Ray's mentally unstable friend, Rosie. Upon meeting her, Ray is shocked to find that she has attempted to commit suicide by slitting her wrists with a dull knife. The cause for this drastic measure may have been in her severe criticism of her friends--a common theme throughout the book; rife judgement of others permeates many motifs in Dharma Bums--by listing each and the "sins" they have committed and then flushing this list down the toilet at work. Rosie, convinced that the sanitation worker who fixed the toilet is a cop, proceeds to spiral into a paranoid void perpetuated by her apparent self-loathing and feeling of inadequacy. When Rosie's future miraculously appears brighter, she lapses once again declaring that the police are going to take over the world and ultimately meets her fate at the bottom of six story building. What I find shocking is before Rosie's demise, she had lunch with Ray who berates her saying that she has a totally skewed vision of the world, a world that he finds to be illusionary--not really the best choice of words when talking to a paranoid suicidal person. Though Rosie did have misconceptions, I feel that Ray demonstrated a complete lack of responsibility when handling Rosie's emotions. At one point, after Rosie's first suicide attempt, Cody--one of Rosie's friends--asks Ray to watch over her. Ray,who replies with virulent self-absorbtion, professes that he "was planning on fun tonight." If I were Rosie, I would tell Ray that he is the one who, in-fact, has a twisted conception of the world. One who puts a night of drunken amusement ahead of the safety of an individual who clearly needs love and attention. Rosie's death is just another fault of Ray's self-righteous attitude; a know-it-all who thinks he is the only one who lives life the "right" way.
The most interesting passage for me was the opening paragraph of chapter 15. This paragraph described all the things that Ray was doing that he enjoyed. He had just bought a new shirt, new socks, new jeans, and headed off to San Francisco, all the while singing merrily on his way. He then went to Skid Row Third Street and bought his favorite doughnuts and got coffee. All these things are abnormal for a so called "Buddhist" to be doing. It shows a large contrast between the way he acts and what he believes, or claims to believe in. This, to me, represents a large part of who Ray is, or at least gave me a better picture of who he is. Although I had a hard time figuring out exactly what defined him throughout the book, this passage made is slightly easier to see a contrast.
While it is a combination of several different passages, the most compelling scene of the story for myself was the journey of Ray to Washington for his lookout job. In the spirit of this freedom that he is searching for, he becomes care-free and strolls along the wrong side of the road for no apparent reason. This spontaneous decision leads to many encounters with interesting figures that make Ray's journey all the more intriguing and educational. This "Washington" Ray is a Ray that we have not seen all that much of, a man enjoying every living moment of his life and taking in the ride. I believe he truly realizes he is a at a unique point in his life, journeying on his own after his escapades with Japhy and company. When he does reach the finish mark of his trip, Desolation Peak, Ray is a transformed man with a changed spirit and approach to his life. He is finally at peace with the lifestyle he has come to adopt and his close bond with Japhy, one that he holds dearly. A man who has certainly had an unusual path in life, it is satisfying to see him come to this "high point" and epiphany in his life both physically and mentally. He finally embraces the concept that he has been chasing during his time as a dharma bum, the world is a free place, and he is at peace with his sense of freedom.
In the beginning of chapter 19, Ray sneaks of the back porch of his families house to go meditate in the woods. He had already cleared out a path for himself and marked it with pines as well. I thought this whole scene was interesting because of the description he used in describing his moment of "blessedness" from the meditation. Despite other noises and distractions around him, he was able to sink into his own thoughts. Though he often meditates, the imagery he uses in describing this experience on page 134 was quite detailed. Bringing the dogs along with him, and describing how they meditate caught my attention as well. He says that dogs meditate on their paws and that all dogs love him for reasons he did not explain.
A scene in the book that stands out to me was in chapter 25 when Japhy and Ray are chopping wood together. This scene resonates with me because chopping wood was an activity that I grew with. For Christmas one year, when I believe I was 8 years of age, I recieved a toy chainsaw and two years later I was given a chainsaw of my own. My Dad is very much of the old school in that he has always had a firm belief that good hard honest manual labor is a blessing that can only be recieved by getting one's hands dirty outside. When I was six I was first brought out to the chopping block in the backyard of my house and by the age of nine I was swinging away with an axe. The description of the upward and downward flow of motion and energy that embodies this almost spiritual activity takes me back to my own backyard and the woodland behind my house. The most profound notion that i get from reading this passage, however is that though the work is often times gruelling and when doing it, in moment of fatigue and frustration, I will often wonder why, in the 21st century I am chopping wood for a heat source that has become all but obsolete. But, the benefit that counters this notion is the closeness that I gain with nature as I feel I syncronized with the deep and undercurring rhythms of nature, and of course the satisfaction I gain from some honest hard labor. Both of these feelings are incalculable, and intangible, but isn't that why it's so beautiful and so profound? I think so.