French friends, American allies: ethnic dynamics in the writing of Jack Kerouac

M. E. Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The way the scroll text of Kerouac's On the Road creatively manifests the writer's unconscious concerns about his dichotomous hybrid French- Canadian-American heritage is analysed. The characters of Gabrielle Kerouac, Henri Cru and Neal Cassady are shown to operate metaphorically to symbolize Kerouac's tumultuous relationship with the various elements of his genealogy. How the writer's depiction of, and the protagonist's allegiances with, these characters, who, respectively, represent French- Canadian maternity, European respectability and American unreliability, betray Kerouac's covert attempts to reconcile his autobiographical feelings about the dualities implicit in his identity and mirror his efforts to navigate disparate cultural ideologies is examined.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-289
Number of pages10
JournalComparative American Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Beat generation
  • Franco-Americanism
  • French-Canadianism
  • Jack Kerouac
  • Literary criticism
  • On the road

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