Jack Kerouac’s On The Road The Impact Of Dean On Sal's Identity

1047 words - 4 pages

Impact of Dean on Sal's Identity in On the Road

  In part I, chapter 3 of Jack Kerouac's On the Road, Sal arrives at Des Moines and checks into a cheap, dirty motel room. He sleeps all day and awakens in time to witness the setting sun. As he looks around the unfamiliar room, Sal realizes that he doesn't understand his own identity. Identity lost, he states "I was half way across America, at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my future." He has lost the calming influence of his aunt, and Dean and partners are not around to feed his wild streak. The only clues to his identity are to be found in the strange motel room. This appeal to emotion gives the reader personal hints to identify with.


Many people have become lost in the context of their life and do not understand what they have been doing or what the purpose of existence is. The manner in which Kerouac relates his own feelings to the dark, soothing atmosphere of the room gives the reader a clear idea as to what he is experiencing. This appeal to style lulls the reader into contemplation concerning their own identity. Sal's identity only seems to exist when there are other people around to influence him. Without exception, it changes every time he encounters new circumstances and surroundings. On the way to visit Old Bull Lee in New Orleans during part II, chapter 6, Sal is driving while Dean and Mary Lou are asleep. He is alone with time to think to himself, and he does not know what he is doing or where he is going. The style of the passage intrigues the reader; "All alone in the night I had my own thoughts and held the car to the white line in the holy road." Dean is no longer mentally present to lead him and feed his identity. Sal has no one to show him the way and he is forced to cling to his physical surroundings for comfort. His entire existence centers around following the straight line in the road. In chapter 7, after the stay with Old Bull, Dean is ready to leave and hit the road again. Sal is compelled to go with him although he would really like to stay with Bull awhile. Again, Kerouac uses emotion to move the reader, because most people have been torn between following one of two friends at some point.


In chapter 8 of part two, Dean steals gas and oil as Sal runs into the station and takes bread and cheese while the owners are in back eating dinner. Sal seems to be adapting his personality to that of Dean's. Earlier in the novel, when Montana Slim asks him to steal from strangers in alley ways, Sal doesn't seem to want anything to do with it. This schizophrenic behavior appears throughout the book, prohibiting one from understanding who Sal is besides a follower. He picks and chooses who and what he wants to follow. These choices are the only hints to his true personal identity.


Finally, at the end of chapter ten and beginning of eleven of part II, Sal perhaps reaches his...

Find Another Essay On Jack Kerouac’s On The Road - The Impact of Dean on Sal's Identity

Sal's Enlightenment in Mexico in Jack Kerouac's, On the Road

3006 words - 12 pages roses of happiness all the time, but none of us know it. The happiness consists in realizing that it is all a great strange dream" (36). This vision of Mexico as a "Pure Land" with innate contradictions and complexity also appears in Kerouac's On the Road. In the final sections, Sal and Dean travel to Mexico City, but while Dean goes for kicks and to obtain a quick divorce, Sal goes for a different reason. From the beginning of the novel

Quest for Self and Identity in Jack Kerouac’s On The Road

1338 words - 5 pages The Quest For Identity In On The Road     In Jack Kerouac’s ‘On The Road’, the protagonists embark upon a long, arduous quest for human identity. Their aim is to uncover who they truly are, where they fit in the ‘scheme of things’ and what the meaning of life is. They articulate this desire by speaking, during the novel, of the search for ‘IT’, ‘IT’ being human identity. This ‘IT’ is an intangible thing; something that holds a different

Jack Kerouac’s On The Road - The American Quest

1691 words - 7 pages examination of On The Road .. . shows that Kerouac deliberately exploits the naivete of his narrator" (3), utilizing it for thematic purposes.  Hipkiss deconstructs his own criticism of the novel that in Dean and Sal's very passion for "digging" jazz, the road, and the ecstasy of life , they ironically "do not really successfully 'dig' the life they so briefly come in contact with on the road,"when he admits, "except for their

Jack Kerouac’s On The Road - A Memorable Journey

795 words - 3 pages A Memorable Journey  Jack Kerouac's exhuberant novel, On the Road, follows a group of restless young friends criss-crossing America in second-hand cars while finding their 'kicks' in jazz, girls, drugs, and intense conversations about love, poetry, and serenity. Exposing the underground Beat lifestyle of the 1950's, Kerouac celebrates the defiance of a generation chasing the freedom promised by the American Dream while committing

Sal's Search for "IT" in "On the Road"

1515 words - 6 pages In Jack Kerouac's On The Road, Sal Paradise is a man who was fed up with his life and what was expected of him. He was no longer content to sit around and allow society to dictate to him whom he should be and how he should act. It was at this time in his life that Sal met Dean Moriarty who saw that he was ripe for influence. Sal didn't necessarily know exactly what he wanted, but he knew he needed change. Dean became his "guru" in that Sal

Jack Kerouac's On The Road

527 words - 2 pages Jack Kerouac's On The Road Jack Kerouac is considered a legend in history as one of America's best and foremost Beat Generation authors. The term "Beat" or "Beatnic" refers to the spontaneous and wandering way of life for some people during the period of postwar America, that seemed to be induced by jazz and drug-induced visions. "On the Road" was one such experience of Beatnic lifestyle through the eyes and heart of Jack Kerouac. It was a

Jack Kerouac's "On The Road."

1841 words - 7 pages often bored, depressed, and apathetic towards things. After his adventures with Dean, his life gained a new spark to it. He became more confident and happy to live, thanking Dean, while others in his life shunned Moriarty.The impact that "On the Road" had on society can never be mimicked in the culture of today. The shock value of literature is losing it's meaning as the range of topics being written about broadens. The media also exposes more

Jack Kerouac's On the Road

3095 words - 12 pages the Road depicts the counter culture lifestyle of the Beats, which was marked by impulsive traveling and experimentation with sex and drugs? (?Jack Kerouac.? Contemporary Literary Criticism, Vol. 61, 278). With this kind of analysis of the people comes great impact. The nation looked at this book as one of the definitive works on an important counter culture. Millstein says, ?On the Road is the most beautifully executed, and most important

Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums

798 words - 3 pages . The book took only two weeks to write. It was one book of an unintentionally related series later referred to as the Dulouz Tales. Kerouac’s previous book, On the Road, defined the Beat Generation, and while expanding this explanation, The Dharma Bums focused more on the reasoning of the Beat Generation. Focusing often on the Zen Buddhist beliefs of Ray, Kerouac’s character in The Dharma Bums, and Japhy, Ray’s best friend and spiritual mentor

Jack Kerouac's On the Road and Allen Ginsberg's Howl

4057 words - 16 pages Jack Kerouac's On the Road and Allen Ginsberg's Howl Works Cited It was a 1951 TIME cover story, which dubbed the Beats a ‘Silent Generation, ’ that led to Allen Ginsberg’s retort in his poem ‘America,’ in which he vocalises a frustration at this loss of self- importance. The fifties Beat Generation, notably through Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and Allen Ginsberg’s Howl as will here be discussed, fought to revitalise individuality and

On the Road: Jack Kerouac's Rejection of the Middle Class American Dream

1603 words - 6 pages the Road, Kerouac offers a new vision of America right from the first sentence when Sal Paradise says, "I first met Dean right after my wife and I split up. I had just gotten over a serious illness that I won't bother to talk about, except that it had something to do with a miserably weary split-up and my feeling that everything was dead" (Kerouac 1). Thus begins Sal's life on the road and his search for a more meaningful, authentic life. He has

Similar Essays

Jack Kerouac’s On The Road The Character Of Dean Moriarty

2012 words - 8 pages 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

Importance Of Dean Moriarty In Jack Kerouac’s On The Road

3011 words - 12 pages Importance of Dean Moriarty in Jack Kerouac’s On The Road It is Dean Moriarty, in Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, who represents the eternal flame of youth that was adopted by the rebellious youth culture of the Beat Generation. He is free from responsibility, “simply a youth tremendously excited with life…want[ing] so much to live and to get involved with people who would otherwise pay no attention to him” (Kerouac 4). Just as the Greek of

Identity Of Women In Jack Kerouac’s On The Road

1268 words - 5 pages and societal attitudes of the time. Although the novel does highlight the problem of sexism, ultimately it does nothing to criticise it, but in fact projects it.   In On The Road, there are many instances in which female identity is diminished. These arise in the novel’s treatment of female characters such as ‘Marylou’ (a friend of Sal’s and one of two wives of another central character, Dean), Sal's Aunt, and ‘Terry’ (a girlfriend of

Treatment Of Women In Jack Kerouac’s On The Road

2352 words - 9 pages The Treatment of Women in On The Road                    The women in Jack Kerouac's On The Road were, it seems, not afforded the same depth in character which the author gave the men. The treatment of the women characters in both word and action by Sal and Dean seems to show that women could only be a virgin/mother figure or a whore. Throughout the novel there are many instances in which women and their feelings or actions are either