Self and the Quest for Ideal Existential Space: a Study of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road

Saumya Bera1 & Soumyajyoti Banerjee2

1Assistant professor, Haldia Institute of Technology. Haldia, Dist- Purba Medinipur, West Bengal, India, 721657. ORCID: 0000-0002-1198-9366. Email:

2Assistant professor, Haldia Institute of Technology.

 Volume 10, Number 2, 2018 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v10n2.06

Received November 27, 2017; Revised March 28, 2018; Accepted March 31, 2018; Published May 06,  2018.


The present study seeks to explore questions of formation, discernment and inspection of the individual identity through the exploration of existential space. This idea has been explicated through the narrative of Sal in the selected text who attempts to disembark at an understanding about the entirety of human existence. In the present study, Sal begets an identity in his mental space, which is devoid of any rootedness to his present contextual existence. This very realization drives him to go on the road in search of an ideal existential space that might resonate his own ‘self’. However, in doing so, he actually looks for an existential space to form his own identity which consequently gives birth to the conflict, the existential angst. His attempt to ‘be’ by idealizing the ‘other’ and assimilating the ‘otherness’ halts the process of formation of identity. Therefore, Sal’s imagination of ‘self’ and ‘other’ fades away in an unending loop of deference. The study intends to employ the theoretical tool of Existential Space to understand the imaginary constructs that inform the creation and evaluation of the identity of the individual.

Keywords: self, identity, quest, idealization, existentialism, space