My First Summer in the Sierra Dharma Bums Comparison Research Proposal

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¶ … Summer in the Sierra, Dharma Bums Comparison

My First Summer in the Sierra - the Dharma bums Comparison

Nature provides people with important information regarding themselves and their purpose in the world, and, consequent to witnessing the wonders of nature, a great number of writers have felt compelled to write about their experiences with the intention of having their readers become acquainted with the hidden side of things. Jack Kerouac and John Muir had both learnt the values of nature while spending time in the American wilderness. Kerouac's The Dharma Bums and Muir's My First Summer in the Sierra are basically autobiographical novels in their essence. Religion is present across the two books, the two authors proving the fact that they have strong religious beliefs.

Muir is considered to be one of the first pioneers in the world of environmentalists, as he had been among the first interested in having people realize the importance of nature. The writer believed that the American wilderness should not be spoilt because it played a special role in the well-being of Americans. It had certainly been difficult for someone in the nineteenth century to lobby in favor of the preservation of nature, considering the fact that people had mainly been concerned about making profits through any means possible. Even with that, Muir fanatically pushed his case forward, letting the whole world know how important nature is.

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Coming from a completely different generation, Kerouac had other ideals than Muir, and, he did perceived world and life in a different way. He considered himself an artist, with his presence in nature being owed to his thirst to find a mystery world. While Muir had a traditional perception of things, Kerouac seemed to be open to new concepts, choosing religions like Buddhism in favor of Christianity.

Research Proposal on My First Summer in the Sierra Dharma Bums Comparison Assignment

John Muir is mainly responsible for the fact that people can presently learn how Yosemite has been created, through the action of glaciers. While most of the people in the nineteenth century had been more interested in exploiting and expanding industries, Muir turned his attention towards nature and natural phenomena. Even with the fact that beauty can seldom be transposed into words, Muir is able to do it with surprising ease, with his readers having the chance of understanding the magnificence of nature through his words.

Muir had been excited to see nature unfold before him in all of its greatness, amazed at the harmony present in what had presumably been rugged and unwelcoming. While society considered evolution through technology to be a key element when considering people's health, Muir had been among the first to realize that civilization had had some serious flaws when compared to wilderness. The writer wants people to understand nature and to "learn that no particle of her material is wasted or worn out." (Muir, pp. 168) Everything in nature "is flowing from use to use, beauty to yet higher beauty; and we soon cease to lament waste and death, and rather rejoice in the imperishable, unspendable wealth of the universe." (Muir, pp. 168) Apparently, Muir has more respect for nature than he has for the human society, as everyone is aware of the fact that humans consume resources and show little interest when regarding the consequences that their actions have on their own comunity.

Muir does not feel that he does not belong in nature, even with the fact that it lacks almost all accessories which one might find in human-inhabited areas. He feels that there is a strong connection between him and the surrounding nature, as there is a relation of interdependence linking every element in the natural world.

Muir is a combination between a scientist studying nature from a professional point-of-view and a person appreciating it for its beauty. He realizes that nature has no flaws whatsoever, as everything which happens in it has a purpose. Regardless of the fact that natural catastrophes often occur, they are perceived by Muir as being perfectly natural events which only contribute in preserving nature's wild character.

My First Summer in the Sierra presents God as having complete power, struggling to keep a balance in nature through any means possible. The human society, on the other hand, is presented as being imperfect because people are unable to control their environment. Moreover, people intervene and disrupt nature through the process of industrialization, bringing severe damage to it.

Muir virtually falls in love with nature during his excursions in the rough country and explains his feelings by claiming that nature makes him happy. Merely watching the Douglas squirrel produces joy in Muir's heart, as the creature's behavior is enough to change one's perception of life, making people acknowledge the fact that simplicity is one of the most important factors in life.

Muir's description of nature is not typical in any way, but it is made with the eyes of someone who appreciates simplicity and God's work enough to want to help nature by teaching its importance to the rest of the world. The writer considers nature to be worthy of being praised due to the facts that it is effective and beautiful in the same time. Reading the novel is almost similar to embarking on a journey through the natural world, with John Muir as the expedition's guide. Moreover, the book makes those that read it want to have their "first summer" in the wilderness, just as Muir had.

The Dharma Bums, in contrast to My First Summer in the Sierra, presents someone that accidentally discovers the beauty of nature, coming from an environment totally different than the one he stumbles upon. In spite of Ray's revolutionary nature, and, in spite of the fact that he enjoys parties, urban areas, and civilization generally, he cannot help being astonished when he discovers nature. Buddhism teaches him that balance is one of the main solutions to life and that nature is welcoming and beneficial.

Because Ray feels as if society is unable to understand him he decides to leave his home in order to wander without a precise destination. His only desire is to explain his understanding of Buddhism with someone that can actually appreciate him for what he is. In his opinion, civilization is represented through decadence while the natural world is represented through purity. Thus, the extreme contrast between the two shocks him, but, in the same time, he believes that the event is meant to teach one of how he should behave in life.

Similar to Muir, Kerouac's character (who is actually himself -- the novel being semi-autobiographic) intends to have the rest of the world come to peace with himself by discovering nature and the fact that he is one with it. Buddhism has made it possible for Ray to learn that there had been more to life than the customs of the Western World. It opened his eyes, making him realize that the values which he respected until the time had been insignificant in comparison to those of the real world.

While Muir's journey through the wilderness is clearly a physical one, Ray's trip is very different as besides its physical character it also involves spirituality. Because of Japhy Ryder, Ray becomes a so-called "Zen Lunatic" who abandons his previous style of living in favor of walking the mountains with his rucksack. Japhy's eccentricity influences Ray, having him fascinated with eastern literature and religion.

The fact that Kerouac had considered himself as being part of the Beat Generation enables his readers to understand what differentiated him from Muir. The twentieth-century born actor had been likely to have a different understanding of nature and of its value, considering the fact that he had almost been an outlaw of society, using drugs and being dedicated to making full-use of their creative abilities.

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