On the Road

Interpretive Questions

How does Sal feel about the industrialization of modern America?

This question immediately makes me think about Sal’s trip to the Mississippi river. Though he could see his river, his vision was impaired by a chain link fence. Sal see first hand the effect of industrialization in America and is definitely not partial to it. At the same time, he sees the extreme loneliness that is spawned from not industrializing. The vast emptiness of the West and the Mid-West is all the more reason for building up and giving the people more to do. To Sal there is an internal battle between desire and necessity.

Why is Sal continually drawn to the west? What is the difference of East and West with Sal?

East is drab, full of intellectuals, and, to Sal boring. The West is untamed and new, Dean being the spirit. With Dean’s temptation of the West, Sal becomes bored with his intellectual friends. So he goes west to see this curious land and has a change in perspective. Once he is in the West, the East is “brown and holy” and the West is empty.

How is the reader supposed to interpret Deans actions? In what light is he to be shown?

At first Dean is described as a wild and immature westerner that has infiltrated New York’s finest. He is “the spirit of the west” as Sal puts it and acts like it. Throughout the novel, Dean is portrayed as the person that Sal wants to be and Sal loves him. (By the way, there has been some speculation that Dean and Sal are gay). By the end of the novel, about the time Sal wakes up in Mexico, Sal sees that Dean is not only sexist, but a jerk for leaving Sal alone.

In what ways do Dean and Sal have problems with women?

Dean is womanizer. He goes through 3 wives and who knows how many flings in about 3 years. He just stays with them for a little while and then takes off with Sal. This causes Dean’s wives to divorce. Sal on the other hand loses women because of lack of desire and opportunity. He has to leave Terry and go back to New York but she never finds him like she said she would. Lucille is a not a very good choice because she is married. We won’t even talk about his chance encounter with the waitress that was nothing but fling.

Would Sal have been able to go on all of his travels if his aunt had not been so supportive?

In Sal’s first trip Sal’s aunt send him money so he could get home. If Sal’s aunt wasn’t so able to send the money, Sal most likely would not have had such a good feeling about all his other trips and he would have had a much hard time getting home. He would have known that if he got stranded, no one would help him out.