On the Road

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On the Road Part 5, Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Sal says that Dean drove back through Gregoria all the way to Louisiana before the car broke down and he had to fly back to New York. Dean and Inez got married, but then he immediately went back west to San Francisco to see Camille and his two daughters.
Immediately after trying to settle down with Inez, Dean goes on the move again, betraying yet another wife.
Themes
Freedom, Travel, and Wandering Theme Icon
Privilege and Prejudice Theme Icon
When Sal was on his way back from Mexico City, just over the border in Texas he ran into “a tall old man with flowing white hair,” who told him “Go moan for man.” Sal was unsure what this meant, and went back to New York.
Sal has another run in with a strange, mad figure who may offer a kind of disguised wisdom, though it is unclear what these "wise" words might mean—which is not so different from all the other seeking for wisdom in the novel, in which the seeking feels valuable but no wisdom is ever actually found. After his trip, Sal now goes back home.
Themes
Freedom, Travel, and Wandering Theme Icon
Society, Norms, and Counterculture Theme Icon
In New York, Sal met the girl he “had always searched for” and fell in love. He and the girl, named Laura, planned to go to San Francisco and Sal wrote Dean to tell him, but then Dean ended up coming to New York.
Sal finally appears to settle down and doesn’t need to go on the road anymore. But he writes Dean again perhaps because part of him misses his friend and their old times together.
Themes
Freedom, Travel, and Wandering Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Dean told Sal things were good between Camille and him, and that he wanted Inez to come to San Francisco as well and live on the other side of town where he could see her. Dean went to Inez and proposed this idea, but she threw him out. Sal got a letter for Dean from Camille, saying that she and her daughters were waiting for Dean in San Francisco.
Dean’s ideal situation is self-centered and rather sexist: he wants two women to wait around for him while he goes to each one as he pleases. The responsibilities of Dean’s life with Camille and his children are starting to catch up with him, as the letter from Camille exemplifies.
Themes
Privilege and Prejudice Theme Icon
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Sal says that the last time he saw Dean was “under sad and strange circumstances.” Remi Boncoeur happened to be in New York, and Sal and Laura had made plans to go to a concert with him. Remi came to pick Sal and Laura up, and Dean was heading to Penn Station at the same time to head back west.
Though Sal and Remi parted under unfavorable circumstances in San Francisco, they reunite now in New York as Sal has begun to life a more settled-down life. Just as they reestablish their friendship, Sal and Dean’s comes to a bit of an end.
Themes
Friendship Theme Icon
Dean asked to ride uptown with Sal as far as Penn Station, but Remi refused, so Sal and Laura got in the car and waved goodbye to Dean as he walked outside in the cold. Sal says that at night now he thinks of all the “raw land” of America “that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast,” of Dean Moriarty, and of Dean’s father—but especially, he clarifies, of Dean himself.
The novel concludes with this tragically narrated scene of Sal and Dean parting ways for good. Sal seems to have moved on from his road life and settled down at last, and this is a life from which Dean is excluded, as symbolized by Remi refusing to give him a rise. Sal still thinks of his friend fondly and associates Dean’s mad restlessness with the huge, sprawling landscape of America. Yet Sal himself seems no longer to partake of the road himself. He has escaped that sadness, has had the experiences that he can now write about, and has settled down with the "girl he had always searched for". Dean for him is an idea of a kind of purity that Sal no longer has to struggle to live up to. He still loves the idea, but he does not have to live it.
Themes
Freedom, Travel, and Wandering Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
America Theme Icon