Life is a journey that begins when you are born. Through this journey, we see and hear many things that change the way we think about the people who influence us as well as the world around us. Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, is a great example of the theme “life is a journey”. This novel is about two characters, Sal Paradise, a young writer, and Dean Moriarty, a wild youth who lives life to the fullest. Together they go all around America; their journeys include traveling through the wilderness, small towns, jungles, and deserts. The Miraculous Journey of Rubin Carter by James S. Hirsch is a story about a boxing legend that is framed by a crooked cop for a murder he didn’t commit. Carter spent twenty-two years of his life in prison for something he didn’t do, but instead of feeling sorry for himself Carter tried to do everything in his power to prove his innocence. He wrote an autobiography in prison, which ultimately helped in bringing out the truth and he would receive his justice.
There are many different themes in On the Road, but life is a journey is the strongest theme in this novel. By reading the title alone this theme is dominant, because Sal and Dean are constantly traveling from one place to another. Sal is a confused person, who can’t decide whether to live a traditional life by settling down and starting a family or to travel around enjoying life like his friend Dean. Dean lives a life free of burden, and responsibility and he seems happy throughout the novel. He is the probably the most interesting character in On the Road because he is essentially what all the other characters in the novel want to be. Dean fascinates Sal, and they become really close friends. They begin a restless journey going back and forth across the country.
They go to Denver, California, New Orleans, San Francisco, New York, and then Mexico City. Sal starts off the book as being depressed, gains happiness, confidence, and falls in love at the end. The theme of life is a journey is also a very prominent theme in The Miraculous Journey of Rubin Carter. Carter goes from being a contender for the middleweight boxing crown to jail, charged with murders. The trial was racially biased, because Rubin Carter and John Artis, an acquaintance of Carter’s, were the only black people in the court room, both innocent men were sentenced to life in prison.
While in prison, Carter refused to behave like a guilty man by not wearing the prison uniform, or eating prison food, and refusing to see a parole officer. He wrote an auto-biography entitled The Sixteenth Round: From Number 1 Contender to #45472, with this book he would meet a group of Canadians that would help him become a free man. Carter lost his family, boxing career, and 22 years of his life, but he refused to allow the bitterness overcome him. When Carter was finally released in 1988, he said:
“If I have learned nothing else in life, I’ve learned that bitterness only consumes the vessel that contains it. And for me to permit bitterness to control or infect my life in any way whatsoever, would be to allow those who imprisoned me to take even more than the twenty-two years they’ve already taken. Now, that would make me an accomplice to their crime…”
Life is not a still or short-lived event. It is a process of travel, a journey with many ups and downs. The characters in both On the Road and The Miraculous Journey of Rubin Carter went through many different emotions. Both novels had unique journeys through life, with both ending in a positive way.