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On the Road


On the Road by Jack Kerouac - Summary

"On the Road" is a defining novel of the Beat Generation, offering a vivid account of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty's journey across America. Their odyssey is marked by a relentless quest for meaning, intense friendships, and a desire to break free from societal norms.


  • Freedom and Exploration: The novel celebrates the spirit of adventure and the freedom of the open road, symbolizing a deeper search for personal and philosophical fulfillment.
  • Existential Search: Through their travels, Sal and Dean grapple with questions of existence, identity, and belonging, embodying the post-war generational discontent.
  • Rejection of Conventional Values: The protagonists' lifestyles and choices reflect a clear departure from traditional American values, embracing instead a life of spontaneity, jazz, and poetic expression.

Key Characters

  • Sal Paradise: The narrator, whose journey across the country is both a physical and a metaphorical search for meaning.
  • Dean Moriarty: Sal's charismatic and free-spirited friend, whose zest for life drives much of the narrative.

Narrative Arc

The book spans several trips across America, capturing the beauty and vastness of the landscape, the diversity of its people, and the complexities of human relationships. From the streets of New York to the fields of the Midwest, and the allure of the West Coast, Sal and Dean's experiences are a mosaic of the American Dream, seen through the lens of the Beat Generation's disillusionment and hope.

"On the Road" remains a timeless exploration of youth, freedom, and the quest to understand the essence of life and humanity.