On the Road

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On the Road
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Road Trips! Drinking! Poverty!
Written by: Jack Kerouac
Central Theme:
First published: September 5, 1957
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Slim sits down at the piano and hits two notes, two Cs, then two more, then one, then two, and suddenly the big burly bass-player wakes up from a reverie and realizes Slim is playing "C-Jam Blues" and he slugs in his big forefinger on the string and the bog booming beat begins...
—Part of one of the many sentences in On The Road

On The Road is a 1951 novel by Jack Kerouac. It is considered to be the masterwork of The Beat Generation, along with Naked Lunch and Howl. The narrative takes place between 1947 and 1950. The book did not receive publication until 1957.

It is semi-autobiographical and relates events from the time Kerouac spent spent traveling and occasionally hitchhiking from coast to coast. However, because of legal reasons, the main character is actually an Author Avatar named Sal Paradise whosemi-impoverished writer and recent divorcee. It also details his friendship with the increasingly crazy Neal Cassady (whose name has been changed to Dean Moriarity) and other writers of The Beat Generation such as William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg who also show up with different names.

The original manuscript was written in one long scroll with no paragraph breaks whatsoever.

On The Road has had a huge influence on modern culture with such personages as Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison and Hunter S. Thompson, among others, citing it as an inspiration. It is also considered one of the quintessential American Road Trip novels, but then again, so is Lolita.

It was made into a film in 2012.

Tropes used in On the Road include:
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Camille and Marylou for Dean.
  • Author Avatar: Sal Paradise is Jack Kerouac. Also, Dean Moriarty is fellow Beat writer Neal Cassady, Old Bull Lee is William S. Burroughs, and Carlo Marx is Allen Ginsberg. Kerouac uses avatars in virtually all of his novels, although for legal reasons, the names are changed from book to book. As a result, in The Dharma Bums, Kerouac is named Ray Smith, and in The Subterraneans, he is named Leo Percepied.
  • Basement Dweller: Well, Sal still lives with (and sometimes off) his aunt.
    • When he is home, that is.
  • Catch Phrase: "Oh! Yes!"
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Dean. So. very. much.
  • Crazy Homeless Person: To an innocent bystander all the main characters can seem this way.
    • Although, there are actual homeless people... who may or may not be crazy but are, at the very least, slightly unhinged.
  • House Husband: Because of a series of almost comically timed and very karmic events... Dean
  • The Mad Hatter: Dean.
    • He's so uninhibited that, when seeing him running naked through the desert, people have thought that he was a hallucination.
    • "Oh! Yes!"
    • Slim Gaillard, who has the tendency to append the word "ooroni" to the end of his words.
  • Nude Nature Dance: Dean (of course) and in the middle of the desert no less.
    • Also, Sal and Marylou sit naked in the front seat of a car with Dean (again!) at one point.
  • Perpetual Poverty: Sal and his friends especially when on the road and often otherwise. However, they usually manage to scrape by.
  • Road Movie: Technically Road Book (but it's "soon to be a major motion picture"). This book if often considered one of the great road trip novels of all time.
  • Roman à Clef: Loosely relates the random travels of Kerouac during a period of his life. All the names were changed, but many famous beat writers appear, and the book is said to have defined the The Beat Generation.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Dean, Sal and Marylou.