On the Road

On the Road

On the Road Part 4, Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Outside of Gregoria, the car’s headlights stopped working, and the group had to drive through a dark jungle, with lots of insects and bugs all around. They drove onwards and got to “a jungle town” where they stopped and tried to sleep in the car, though it was incredibly hot out. Sal ended up sleeping on top of the car, getting bitten by hundreds of mosquitoes. Sal says, “the atmosphere and I became the same.”
Sal and Dean like to live their lives off the beaten path, and now they do so quite literally as they drive through the dense jungle. Sal's constant desire to become one with nature, with life, with the world, is here achieved, he feels, by sleeping outside on top of the car in the middle of the jungle.
Themes
Freedom, Travel, and Wandering Theme Icon
Society, Norms, and Counterculture Theme Icon
A policeman found them sleeping by the car, but didn’t seem to mind. Sal says America doesn’t have this kind of “lovely policemen.” Sal tried to go back to sleep and then had a vision of a wild white horse galloping toward Dean. In the morning, Dean said he also dreamed of a white horse.
This episode with the policeman illustrates by contrast how oppressive and irritating the American police can be to Sal and people like him. Sal and Dean's shared dream of the horse seems to indicate their incredible closeness and that they have found a kind of pure freedom.
Themes
Society, Norms, and Counterculture Theme Icon
America Theme Icon
Dean, Sal, and Stan started driving through the jungle again, seeing all sorts of gigantic bugs. They got out of the jungle and started driving toward some mountains, seeing “mountain Indians” along the side of the road. They stopped the car outside a little hut and saw a three-year-old Indian girl.
Sal, Dean, and Stan continue on the road, marveling at all the strange sights they see that are so different from the American experience they know.
Themes
Freedom, Travel, and Wandering Theme Icon
America Theme Icon
Dean guessed about the girl’s life, how she would never know anything of the “outside world,” and probably had a “wild chief.” They drove on and saw more Indian girls. Dean got out and gave one girl his wristwatch. They kept driving, past some shepherds, and finally got into Mexico City.
Dean perhaps exaggerates the primitiveness of the girl with his idea of a “wild chief.” Sal and Dean finally reach the destination of their final meandering trip together.
Themes
Freedom, Travel, and Wandering Theme Icon
Privilege and Prejudice Theme Icon
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The group entered the hustle and bustle of the city, filled with “thousands of hipsters in floppy straw hats.” Sal was enjoying the city, but then started to get sick and delirious with a fever. The next thing he knew, he was lying on a bed and Dean was telling him that he was going back to New York to see Inez. Sal would have gotten upset with Dean for abandoning him, but knew Dean “had to leave me there, sick, to get on with his wives and woes.”
Sal enjoys the city at first, but—as often is the case—he has a worse time at his destination than he had getting there. Just as Dean has abandoned people close to him in the past, he turns his back on Sal even while he’s sick. But Sal forgives Dean because he idolizes, looks up to, and pities his dear friend.
Themes
Freedom, Travel, and Wandering Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon