On the Road
by Jack Kerouac
On the Road Contrasting Regions Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph)
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.
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.
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.