On the Road

On the Road

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On the Road Part 1, Chapter 9 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Sal and his friends now made their “trek to the mountains.” He went with Ray Rawlins, his sister Babe, Roland Major, Tim Gray, and Betty Gray to Central City, an old mining town with an opera house built when the town had grown wealthy from silver mining. The group stayed at an old abandoned miner’s house.
Sal’s trip to the mountain town offers another chance to have some fun, as well as an opportunity to see a piece of American history that testifies to the old western mining rush.
Themes
Society, Norms, and Counterculture Theme Icon
America Theme Icon
Sal went to the opera with Babe Rawlins, and he loved it, getting “lost in the great mournful sounds of Beethoven and the rich Rembrandt tones of his story.” Babe and Sal returned to the miner’s house, and Sal helped Roland and Tim clean out the place. They called out to girls in the street, asking them to help clean the house and come to their party later that night.
As a somewhat Beat character, Sal is equally at home listening to opera and asking random girls to come to a huge party in an abandoned house.
Themes
Society, Norms, and Counterculture Theme Icon
After cleaning the house, Tim, Ray Rawlins, and Sal went to the rooming house where the opera singers were staying. They took the singers’ hairbrushes, colognes, shaving lotions, and other things, and bathed and got ready for the night. They returned to the house, ate, and began drinking. Before long, “great crowds of young girls came piling into,” the house.
Sal and his friends have no concerns about breaking into the singers’ rooming house and using their things. Their only concern seems to be having a good time.
Themes
Society, Norms, and Counterculture Theme Icon
Sal went to some bars and then returned to the party. He wished Dean and Carlo were with him, but then realized they would probably be out of place with the crowd. He says that those two were “the sordid hipsters of America, a new beat generation.”
Sal has fun cavorting around with the “new beat generation,” but is also caught between his different groups of friends and feels left out of Dean and Carlo’s close relationship.
Themes
Society, Norms, and Counterculture Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
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Some of the opera singers came to the party and sang. Sal was having a great time and says that “the girls were terrific.” Then, some teenagers showed up and “just grabbed girls and kissed them without proper come-ons.” The teenagers ruined the party, so Sal went with Ray and Tim to some bars.
Happy with his hipsters and beat generation friends, Sal scorns the teenagers who crash his party, so he goes out to bars with his friends.
Themes
Society, Norms, and Counterculture Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Out in Central City, Sal saw someone named Denver Doll shaking hands with everyone and talking to all sorts of people. Sal says Denver wasn’t “drunk on liquor, just drunk on what he liked—crowds of people milling.”
Denver Doll exemplifies the bizarre madness that Sal values, a kind of intoxication with life itself.
Themes
Society, Norms, and Counterculture Theme Icon
Ray Rawlins got into a dispute with an Argentinian tourist at the bar and punched him out. Sal, Tim, and Ray left the bar before the sheriff could find Ray. Outside, they ran into Roland Major. Sal says he wondered “what the Spirit of the Mountain was thinking,” and saw “ghosts of old miners.” He felt as though he were on “the roof of America.”
Sal and his friends act without restrictions on their behavior, but this can get them into trouble. The Spirit of the Mountain and the ghosts are literalized figures of the majestic sense of history and the American past Sal feels out west.
Themes
Society, Norms, and Counterculture Theme Icon
America Theme Icon
Sal and his friends went back into the same bar, where Tim threw a drink in the face of an opera tenor. They went to another bar, where Ray called a waitress a whore. A group of locals told them to get out of the bar, so they left and went back to the miner’s house to sleep.
Again, the wild behavior of Sal and his friends gets them into some trouble, this time with the locals.
Themes
Society, Norms, and Counterculture Theme Icon
The next morning, Sal had stale beer for breakfast. He and his friends began the “sad ride back to Denver.” As they approached Denver, Sal felt an urge to go to San Francisco.
Sal has enjoyed Denver, but already feels an urge to get back on the road and keep moving, this time further west.
Themes
Freedom, Travel, and Wandering Theme Icon