On The Road by Jack Kerouac.


Penguin Books. (New York, 1976) 307pp.




“…I shambled after as I’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me as the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes, \'Awwwww!\'"(5-6)


Dean Moriarty is the “mad man” Sal has been looking for, and it is because of him that Sal begins his life on the road. For him, “Dean is the perfect guy for the road because he actually was born on the road.”


On The Road begins with Sal Paradise, a beatnik traveler, looking for something more in his life than the tedious life he lives. The hero that rescues him from the endless routine cycle he lives in is Dean Moriarty, a “holy- conman” full of energy and enthusiasm for life; a mad man. Sal is stuck in New York while his friends and the infamous Dean Moriarty are in Denver. And so, in search of his friends and adventure, Sal commences his life on the road traveling in search for everything and for nothing. In total, Sal journeys through the vast continent of America in four trips; from east to west, from west to east, from west to south towards Mexico and north again.


Their travels took them all over the United States on escapades full of sex, drugs, and jazz music. Throughout their travels they encounter several people with whom they become attached to in one way or another. Sal is overwhelmed by the beauty in everyone and begins to see the real America; the America personified in its people. Sal described the people he meets in his journeys to the totality superlative extent of their character; in a way, they all became part of the experience and they all had a place in the story to be told. Sal meets numerous “characters” in his journeys. He befriended a hobo called Eddie just because he needed someone to be with. In search for transport rode an empty truck with several colorful characters.


“I looked at the company. There were two young framer boys from North Dakota is red baseball caps, which is the North Dakota framer-boy hat, and they were headed for the harvest; their old men had given them leave to hit the road doe a summer. There were two young city boys from Columbus, Ohio, high-school football players, chewing gum, winking, singing in the breeze and they said they were hitchhiking around the Unites States for the summer. ‘ We’re going to LA!’ they yelled.


Finally there were Mississippi Gene and his charge. Mississippi Gene was a little dark guy who rode fright trains around the country, a thirty-year-old hobo but with a youthful look so you couldn’t tell exactly what age he was.” (22-23)


He fell in love with a Mexican woman called Terry and ended up picking cotton to earn money. Little by little, as Sal and Dean become closer, Sal started to separate from his close gang constituted of several beatniks, Carlo Marx, Chad King, Tim Gray, and Roland Major.


“… Dean’s intelligence was every bit as formal and shining and complete, without the tedious intellectualness. And as his “criminality” was not something that sulked and sneered; it was a wild yea-saying overburst of American joy; it was Western, the west wind, and ode from the Plains, something new, long prophesied, long a-coming…” (7-8)


Dean was the rebel. The black-sheep no-good zealous adventurous friend Sal needed to push him into the life on the road. Dean meets numerous women, three whom he loves dearly and marries. Although the women had knowledge of Dean’s infidelity, they continued to sustain a relationship with him and in the end he impregnated several of them. He divorces and remarries till finally he ended up remarrying his second wife, Camille, with whom he was determined to remain. Sal and Dean manage to work their way across the country three times with