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Thread: On the Road and other Beat Generation thoughts

  1. #1
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    Lightbulb On the Road and other Beat Generation thoughts

    Hi everyone,
    I am completing the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB) as part of my final year at high school.
    As a part of the diploma, I must write an extended essay on a topic of my choice. For this, I have chosen to write mine on Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ and how the journey of Sal Paradise and the other “semi-intellectuals” is conveyed. I was wondering what people's thoughts were on this, and whether Sal really did grow as a person as he went back and forth across America...

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    Sal is the observer of the characters he meets on his journey.

    There are at least two Sal's. There's Sal, the character we follow in the story who has always dreamed of going on the road, and Sal the narrator who is reflecting back upon the journey Sal has taken. So to see how Sal has changed, take a look at the passages where the narrator and the character intersect. For example, at the end of chapter 2 "It was my dream that screwed up, the stupid hearthside idea that it would be wonderful to follow one great red line across America instead of trying various roads and routes."

    Here you've go the naïve traveller, who's romantic ideas of being on the road changing - so yes, there is a progression. Sal the narrator is showing us how being on the road, and meeting all these characters - changed him. at the end Sal & Dean's relationship changes as a result of what happened in Mexico - but you might be able to see that this developing through-out the novel.

    It might be worthwhile taking a look at key events in the novel which challenge Sal's character - what happens with Sal & Terry, Sal & Dean & Sal and the Road.


    The narrator is more cynical and wiser than Sal who starts the journey on the road and your essay could focus on how young Sal grows into older Sal.

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    If Sal was the narrator of On the Road, I am not sure he grew up at all. At least he didn't during the time span he was writing about. He was recklessly irresponsible.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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