” (Cresswell, p. 249)
In a manner, this also points us toward a more direct consideration of the friendship around which this novel revolves. In the relationship between Sal and Dean, we are given not just an autobiographical window into the lives of Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassidy respectively, but also into the core values to which the counterculture movement was essentially committed. Again, this denotes the inherently relatable nature of Kerouacs otherwise bold content, with the friendship between Sal and Dean serving as a reflection of the community and family values that round out the parallels with establishment culture. These parallels make the text a particularly valuable meditation on America as it struggled between its cherished traditional values and the creeping threat of modernization.
With respect to this struggle, it can be said that the characters of Sal and Dean battled endlessly with a sense of disillusionment and disenfranchisement. As evidenced by the focus of the book itself on Jacks friendship with Neal, we can see that the two characters there-inspired are intended to function as artistic muses to one another. Accordingly, many of the conversations which pass between them carry the overtones of discontent and the sentiment of artistic initiative. At the base of both of these senses, we can see in Kerouacs own word choice that the two men feed off of one another talents and emotions for support. So shows one exchange, where Kerouac reports, “in the bar I told Dean, Hell, man, I know very well you didnt come to me only to want to become a writer, and after all what do I really know about it except youve got to stick to it with the energy of a benny addict. And he said, Yes, of course, I know exactly what you mean and in fact all those problems have occurred to me, but the thing that I want is the realization of those factors that should one depend on Schopenhauers dichotomy for any inwardly realized . . .
and so on in that way, things I understood not a bit and he himself didnt.” (Kerouac, p. 3)
In addition to capturing the stream of consciousness style that was a key feature of Kerouacs work, this passage demonstrates the intellectual charge which each man gathered from the other. The story is carried throughout by these conversations in which the two men attempt to place themselves and one another into a continuum with many other great writers, artists and musicians through history. In this regard, even living as lost children in the wilds of America, the two men remain rooted through their exchanges with one another to a tradition of defiant expression. And quite to this purpose, the novel itself would help to extend this continuum through the events of modern history. According to Leland (2007), “in the half century since its publication, on the Road has echoed anew through successive rebel youth movements, from the sixties counterculture to the alternative tribes of the post 9/11 era.” (p. 5)
This observation leads us to a resolution on the discussion. Namely, the reader is inclined to identify closely with the mores and ambitions of the characters at the novels center. Here, the relationship between Dean and Sal has become a conduit through which to engage more discursively on the challenges of cultural defiance and artistic ambition, showing that through their connection with one another and with their broader community, they had gained the strength to choose to disconnect from the so-called establishment.
Cresswell, T. (1993). Mobility as Resistance: A Geographical Reading of Kerouacs On the Road. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 18, 249-262.
Cunnell, H. (2007). Fast This Time: Jack Kerouac and the Writing of on the Road (from on the Road: The Original Scroll. Penguin Classics.
Hassani, a. (2005). On the Road. Nabou.com.
Kerouac, J. (1957). On the Road..