The Character of Dean Moriarty in On the Road
Part two of Jack Kerouac's novel, On the Road, gives the reader, for the first time, a close look at the character Dean Moriarty. This section of the novel begins when Dean, his ex-wife Marylou, and his friend Ed, meet up with his closer friend, Sal, at Sal's brother's house in Virginia. Sal had not seen Dean for over a year when they suddenly show up on the doorstep. Sal sums up their tale by saying, "So now Dean had come about four thousand miles from Frisco, via Arizona and up to Denver, inside four days, with innumerable adventures sandwiched in, and it was only the beginning" (117). Dean is an individual who has a very enthusiastic and optimistic outlook on life. But attached to his excitement for life is a kind of madness. He is constantly on the go; he is always mapping out his next adventure, so as to not miss out on any excitement. He seems to be obsessed with the idea of time: he fears wasting the little time he has in the world. The way in which the word "time" is emphasized in this novel illustrates how Dean Moriarty is overwhelmed with the sense of living for the day.
A thorough description of Dean is found in the first few pages. Sal describes Dean:
He had become absolutely mad in his movements; he seemed to be doing everything at the same time. It was a shaking of the head, up and down, sideways; jerky, vigorous hands; quick walking, sitting, crossing the legs, uncrossing, getting up, rubbing the hands, rubbing his fly, hitching his pants, looking up and saying 'Am,' and sudden slitting of the eyes to see everywhere; and all the time he was grabbing me by the ribs and talking, talking. (114)
Dean's actions seem to mirror one who is suffering from withdrawal symptoms of some kind. In his case, if he is withdrawn from some type of action, or If he is ever idle, he is Ill at ease. He needs some sort of goal the he can concentrate on so that he is not wasting any of his precious moments just existing. He even describes himself in a similar manner. He says to Marylou, "Now, Marylou, listen really, honey, you know that I'm a hotrock capable of everything at the same time and I have unlimited energy..." (135).
The first thing that Dean says to everyone, as soon as they leave Sal's brother's house, is, "The time has come for us to decide what we're going to do for the next week" (113). Dean, Marylou, and Ed have just driven from San Francisco, to Los Angeles, to Denver, and finally to Virginia in "an amazingly short time" (109), but Dean is not even concerned about relaxing awhile before taking off again. Furthermore, he already has ideas forming in his head concerning his next adventure. His thought processes can be examined in a passage on pages 113 and 114. He says to his companions, "We all get to see Carlo, darlings, first thing tomorrow. Now, Marylou, we're getting some bread and meat to make a lunch for New York. How much money do you have, Sal? We'll put...