On The Road is a novel that celebrates the Beat generation and provides a portrait of America in the late forties/early fifties. The story revolves around the narrator, Sal Paradise, a twenty-something writer and ex-GI who travels the country by car, bus, train, and hitchhiking. Along the way, he meets interesting people and a revolving door of friends who are also embarking on journeys of their own. The book pay homage to the freedom of the open road.
While the book lacked a unified plot (it’s mostly strings of stories woven together which make up a patchwork quilt-type book), I honestly have to say that this book had some of the most beautiful writing I’ve ever read. Kerouac’s description is amazing! He was able to say in five words what would take lesser writers two paragraphs. His use of metaphor could have won him a gold metal if writing was an Olympic sport. I’m not a note taker…not even in school…but I found myself writing passages down to ponder over later.
The characters in this book were slightly disturbing, especially Dean Moriarty. Sal seems to worship Dean in a bazaar and unhealthy way. Dean is a philandering, pedophilic, criminal, yet Sal sees him as some sort of mystical god-like being. I don’t get it. The guy is a creep. People have to lock up their daughters when he’s around. He marries women, knocks them up and runs off with another over and over again. At one point, he obtains a quickie Mexican divorce from his second wife, rushes back to marry his third wife, and that very night, he leaves wife #3 to go back to wife #2. What a pig! But Sal sees Dean as some sort of modern philosopher, always taking and eluding to Dean’s deep thinking. I just saw him as a dude high on pot going, “Whoa, man!” “Yes!” over and over.
On The Road wasn’t the most exciting book, nor had it the deepest characters, but it definitely has historic and literary value.
Overall, I give On The Road…
Plot – 1 ½ bookmarks
Character Development – 2 ½ bookmarks
Literary Value – 5 bookmarks
Historic Value – 4 ½ bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Penn Badgley (Sal Paradise), Chris Pine (Dean Moriarty), America Ferrera (Teresita), Anne Hathaway (Camile), Tom Hardy (Remy), Reese Witherspoon (Mary Lou), Viggo Mortensen (Old Bull Lee), Lukas Haas (Carlo Marx)