The concluding edition was not published till six years after Kerouac wrote it in one extended paragraph in 1951. In 1957, the Beat poem “Howl” (by Kerouac’s friend Allen Ginsberg) had gained unsavory reputation; the newly published “On the Road “was proficient to ride the wave of attention in the Beats as well as make Kerouac an immediate celebrity
“On the Road’s” cross-continental journeys are about Kerouac’s trips, mostly by car and bus and often accompanied by his friend Neal Cassady, the frenetic, charismatic, independent scholar from the West. Cassady’s name in the novel is Dean Moriarty. The novel begins with Dean and Sal Paradise (Kerouac) meeting in New York City and progresses through four mostly fast-paced trips, back and forth amid New York and California, up and down the Eastern Seaboard, along the Gulf Coast, and downs into Mexico, with notable stopovers in Denver and New Orleans, the latter to visit Old Bull Lee (William 3). The open road, poverty, drugs, alcohol, jazz, hunger, sex, speed, and characters met along the way create intense situations that allow the travelers to observe, react, and consider while becoming more familiar with their own identities.
The novel’s two principal characters are the narrator, Sal, and his companion and hero, Dean Moriarty thinly veiled versions of Kerouac and his friend Neal Cassady. The book unfolds as a loosely connected series of episodes that document the pair’s adventures during a drunken and drug-ridden odyssey through the United States. Along the way, they meet and befriend an unforgettable gallery of American types: jazz singers, drug addicts, hitchhikers, and drifters. Their journey culminates in a revealing and darkly humorous stay in Mexico (Challi p 10).
Much of “On the Road” is barely disguised autobiography, a document attesting to the