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Quotes

Quote #10

I saw the little midget newspaper-selling woman with the short legs, on the corner of Curtis and 15th. I walked around the sad honkytonks of Curtis Street; young kids in jeans and red shirts; peanut shells, movie marquees, shooting parlors. Beyond the glittering street was darkness, and beyond the darkness the West. I had to go. (I.10.13)

Sal treats the West as his own religious icon, a personal Mecca. When it fails this role, the South (Mexico) becomes he and Dean’s new destination.

Quote #11

With the flashlight to illuminate my way, I climbed the steep walls of the south canyon, got up on the highway streaming with cars Frisco-bound in the night, scrambled down the other side, almost falling, and came to the bottom of a ravine where a little farmhouse stood near a creek and where every blessed night the same dog barked at me. Then it was a fast walk along a silvery, dusty road beneath inky trees of California - a road like in The Mark of Zorro and a road like all the roads you see in Western B movies. I used to take out my gun and] play cowboys in the dark. (I.11.17)

Sal identifies parts of the West with the West of his childhood imagination, but is unable to find the Western heroes he hoped for.

Quote #12

I spun around till I was dizzy; I thought I’d fall down as in a dream, clear off the precipice. Oh where is the girl I love? I thought, and looked everywhere, as I had looked everywhere in the little world below. And before me was the great raw bulge and bulk of my American continent; somewhere far across, gloomy, crazy New York was throwing up its cloud of dust and brown steam. There is something brown and holy about the East; and California is white like washlines and emptyheaded - at least that’s what I thought then. (I.11.102)

Sal comes to a sobering conclusion about the West; it is a far cry from what he hoped to find.

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