On the Road

On the Road

On the Road Part 1, Chapter 14 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Sal’s bus went through Arizona. He had a book that he had stolen in L.A., but “preferred reading the American landscape,” instead. The bus went through New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. It arrived in St. Louis by noon, and Sal walked along the Mississippi River.
Sal reads the American landscape as if it were a book for him to study and learn from. His bus ride gives him another chance to see much of the country.
Themes
Freedom, Travel, and Wandering Theme Icon
America Theme Icon
Back on the bus, Sal met a girl and they “necked all the way to Indianapolis.” She got off the bus at Columbus, Ohio, but they made plans to meet in New York. After arriving in Pittsburgh, Sal walked along “the mournful Susquehanna,” with an old hobo he called “the Ghost of the Susquehanna,” who talked incessantly.
Sal evidently has no trouble getting over Teresa, and gives an empty promise to meet this random girl in New York, just as he told Teresa. Sal enjoys the company of a hobo, the ultimate wandering vagabond.
Themes
Freedom, Travel, and Wandering Theme Icon
Society, Norms, and Counterculture Theme Icon
Privilege and Prejudice Theme Icon
The Ghost of the Susquehanna walked in the middle of the road and Sal was sure that “the poor little madman,” would get hit by a car. Sal eventually parted from the hobo and caught a ride to Harrisburg, learning that he had been walking along the wrong road.
Sal is fascinated by the madman “Ghost” just as he was by Dean’s own kind of madness.
Themes
Society, Norms, and Counterculture Theme Icon
Riding in the car, Sal saw the Ghost of the Susquehanna standing under a streetlamp. The driver stopped and told him that he was walking the wrong way, but the old man insisted that he knew where he was going. He said he was headed for “Canady.” Sal says that he “thought all the wilderness of America was in the West,” until the Ghost taught him otherwise.
From the Ghost, Sal learns that one can wander around and find the freedom of the road anywhere, not just in the west, which he used to associate exclusively with a kind of wilderness and freedom. Sal learns that the freedom comes not form the place but from the wandering.
Themes
Freedom, Travel, and Wandering Theme Icon
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Sal says that the wilderness of the east is the same wilderness of Ben Franklin, George Washington, and Daniel Boone. In Harrisburg, Sal slept at the train station, and then was thrown out in the morning. Starving and with no money for food, Sal stumbled around in the morning, which had “a whiteness like the whiteness of the tomb.”
By traveling around the “wilderness” of the east, Sal feels as though he is getting in touch with the American past. Out of money and food, he has become a weary traveler not unlike the Ghost of the Susquehanna himself.
Themes
Freedom, Travel, and Wandering Theme Icon
Society, Norms, and Counterculture Theme Icon
America Theme Icon
Sal caught a ride out of Harrisburg. He told the driver he was starving, and the man said that starving periodically was good for one’s health. Eventually, the driver shared some sandwiches with Sal and “the madman,” drove him all the way to New York.
Sal unluckily hitches a ride with a particularly mad driver (who thinks that starving occasionally is okay). But he nonetheless helps Sal continue his journey home.
Themes
Freedom, Travel, and Wandering Theme Icon
Society, Norms, and Counterculture Theme Icon
Sal found himself back in Times Square, after traveling “eight thousand miles around the American continent.” Sal had no money for a bus back to his home in New Jersey. He didn’t know where any of his friends were. He panhandled for bus money and got home
Sal has now wandered almost all over the country, seeing all sorts of different sides of it. Back in New York, he finds himself stranded without any friends and has to beg for bus fare.
Themes
Freedom, Travel, and Wandering Theme Icon
Society, Norms, and Counterculture Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
America Theme Icon
At home, Sal “ate everything in the icebox.” He found his half-finished manuscript waiting for him. Sal says that he got back home just in time, because Dean had come to the house a few days before, waiting for him, but then had left for San Francisco two days before Sal arrived.
The whole time he’s been traveling, Sal hasn’t been able to work on his book. He just barely missed crossing paths with Dean, who is on his own wandering journey.
Themes
Freedom, Travel, and Wandering Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Writing Theme Icon