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The Dharma Bums Themes

This Study Guide consists of approximately 66 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Dharma Bums.
This section contains 927 words
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Themes

The Path to Enlightenment

The predominant theme of the novel is the personal voyage of Ray Smith, the narrator and primary protagonist, on a path leading to enlightenment. The novel opens with a summarization of Buddhist philosophy with a focus on two elements. First, all life is suffering, and second, the suppression of suffering can be achieved. Ray, an East Coast beat writer of some repute is living a life of active dissipation, which has left him unsatisfied and searching for a better way. He has realized that all life is, indeed, suffering, and he wants to believe that the suffering can be suppressed. To this end, he has embarked on a path of asceticism and the study of Buddhist philosophy. Ray's asceticism is perhaps not traditionally ascetic, as his typical excesses are somewhat egregious. Nevertheless, he moves toward the simple life and tries to refute desire.

Ray is...

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This section contains 927 words
(approx. 4 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our The Dharma Bums Study Guide
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The Dharma Bums from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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