On The Road Essay

On The Road Essay

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"On The Road" considered a great Beat novel, is an exciting and eye-opening story of a friendship told through four trips across America. It describes the rhythms of fifties underground America, jazz, sex, drugs, and freedom. It describes the life of crazy and curious travelers roaming America, hitchhiking everywhere. It is an interesting portrayal of different walks of life and the importance and downfalls of friendship. The book is narrated in a choppy fashion, though different than most main stream novels it does not take long to get drawn in to. The narrator is Sal Paradise, a young novelist-to-be living with his aunt in Paterson, New Jersey. Sal has an itch to see the world. Most of his friends have already traveled out west. A college friend has invited Sal to live with him in San Francisco, and on the way Sal wants to visit a friend, Dean Moriarty, who lives in Denver. Dean Moriarty is fast-talking and a womanizer. He is a product of Denver reform schools that came to New York, to learn to be a writer. Sal looks up to Dean because he is so crazy and has the knack for the women, but mainly his ability to enjoy life. According to a Kerouac biography Dean Moriarty is Jack Kerouac's real-life crazy friend Neal Cassady, and almost everything in this book really happened. The First Trip - New York to Denver to San Francisco to LA. Sal tries to hitch out west alone, but doesn't get very far in his first try. He tries again, taking a bus to Chicago and hitching to Denver. He tells stories of his first trip with rides on the back of trucks, Midwestern cornfields and noisy truck stops. These images make up scenes of America that I can only dream of experiencing. When Sal gets to Denver, he discovers that his other friends have now ostracized Dean Moriarty for his wild ways. Sal has to choose between Dean and the rest of his old college crowd, and it's no contest, he picks Dean. The only other friend who'll still hang out with Dean is Carlo Marx. Carlo, Sal and Dean spend some time in Denver, until Sal takes off for San Francisco to stay with his friend Remi Bencoeur. Dean promises to join him soon after. But Sal finds that Remi Bencoeur has a terrible job and a worse girlfriend, and leaves for Southern California, where he meets a girl named Terry on a bus. He goes to work in the vineyards and cotton fields with her family for a while, and then returns to New York alone. The Second Trip - Virginia to NY to New Orleans to San Francisco. Sal is staying with relatives in Testament, Virginia when Dean shows up at his door with his girlfriend named Marylou and a friend named Ed Dunkel waiting in the car. Dean traveling with Marylou, but the girl he's supposed to be with is Camille, who's back in San Francisco getting ready to have his baby and Ed Dunkel left his wife in Tucson and has to pick her up in New Orleans. Sal joins the group up to Paterson and New York and then down to New Orleans. Then they're off to San Francisco, where Dean decides to return to Camille and get rid of Marylou by setting her up with Sal. Dean seems to get a kick out of setting his friends up with his girlfriends, and Sal and Marylou go along with the plan, but they both feel used and find themselves hungry and bored and unable to depend on Dean for anything. Sal decides to go back home: The Third Trip - New York to Denver to San Francisco and Back Again. Sal forgives Dean, and goes to Denver for no apparent reason except that he misses Dean. Finally he goes to San Francisco to find Dean at his house and Dean recognizes the symbolic importance of this, saying, "You've finally come to me!" Dean and Camille are having problems, and Sal's arrival is the catalyst that breaks up their unhappy relationship. Out on the street, Dean and Sal need a place to stay and go to Ed Dunkel's wife, only to receive a tongue-lashing, directed at Dean everybody is getting on Dean's case now. The whole crowd goes to hear some live jazz and then Dean and Sal set off for the East Coast, planning to travel from there to Italy. They hitch to Denver, where they find somebody who needs a Cadillac driven to Chicago. This is a big mistake for the owner of the Cadillac, because Dean and Sal push the car beyond its limits and make the trip to Chicago in seventeen hours, leaving the car in less than perfect condition. They hear some more live jazz in Chicago, then wander back to New York. The Fourth Trip - New York to Denver to Mexico. Sal's first novel has been published, but he's got the travelling bug again. He takes off for Denver by himself and Dean finds him there. They go off for one last adventure ride down to Mexico, where they spend a wild night in a small village with a roomful of prostitutes and an old Mexican grandma who sells marijuana from her backyard. Sal ends up getting extremely sick, and finds again that Dean is only good for the good times, because Dean leaves him there in his hangover state, rushing off to marry a new girlfriend in New York. In a short section at the end, Sal and Dean briefly find each other in New York City, but Sal is committed to attend a Duke Ellington concert that night at the Metropolitan Opera with some friends. He would rather be with Dean, but his friends don't like Dean, and in the end Sal drives off with his other friends, waving to Dean from the car window. That's about where the book ends. The ending a good way of saying that too much of a good thing is not always good. It was hard for Sal to leave Dean, but he had to do it, and everybody can relate to that because everybody has a friend like Dean. Someone who is great to have a good time with but that is all they care about. He is fun but sooner or later you realize you can not depend on him. That is a lesson that everybody must learn.

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