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She and Jack hit it off, and Cody leaves them to it. They have sex, and Jack moves in for a week, which he spends sitting in a chair and drinking hard. His friends visit and try to get him to eat something, but he refuses, and his mental state begins to collapse. Billie suggests marriage.

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Jack refuses, claiming to be incapable of commitment. Billie threatens to kill herself and Elliott. On his return to the cabin, the long-awaited breakdown finally occurs. He begins to suffer uncontrollable delirium tremens and endures a terrifying night of paranoid hallucinations and incendiary spiritual visions.


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After dawn, Jack sleeps, and when he wakes, he feels restored, even uplifted. He decides that everything is going to be okay after all. Big Sur explores themes of mortality, age, and addiction, painting a portrait of a man who has outlived his own legend. Hints at his madness soon begin to appear, centered on a preoccupation with death triggered by the death of his beloved cat, Tyke. Kerouac begins to suspect that the people around him are conspiring to make him crazy, and links the suspicion to dreams of his youth.

The days of drinking connect in long progression, and he describes the torment in his body and mind that result from the long days of drinking and more drinking, expressing his compassion for the drunks in the gutters and their inescapable misery. Connecting in the end of the story with a woman bent on suicide and killing her small child if Jack does not marry her, Kerouac returns to Big Sur for the culmination of his madness, overcome with the reality of death all around him and the hopelessness of the cycle he is in, disgusted by his mistake in bringing them back to the place that had once been a sacred haven for him.

The story's final lines record his waking from a nap with his torment only a memory and the confidence that everyone would live in the end and everything would be right again. The book closes with the inclusion of the poem he wrote during those first weeks he spent sitting and listening to the sea.

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