On the Road
Contrasting Regions Quotes Page 8
How we cite our quotes:
"We’ll all watch over each other," I said. Stan and his mother strolled on ahead, and I walked in back with crazy Dean; he was telling me about the inscriptions carved on toilet walls in the East and in the West.
"They’re entirely different; in the East they make cracks and corny jokes and obvious references, scatological bits of data and drawings; in the West they just write their names, Red O’Hara, Blufftown Montana, came by here, date, real solemn, like, say, Ed Dunkel, the reason being the enormous loneliness that differs just a shade and cut hair as you move across the Mississippi." (IV.3.33, IV.3.34)
Dean finds his own way to understand the differences between the East and the West.
So Dean couldn’t ride uptown with us and the only thing I could do was sit in the back of the Cadillac and wave at him. The bookie at the wheel also wanted nothing to do with Dean. Dean, ragged in a moth-eaten overcoat he brought specially for the freezing temperatures of the East, walked off alone, and the last I saw of him he rounded the corner of Seventh Avenue, eyes on the street ahead, and bent to it again. Poor little Laura, my baby, to whom I’d told everything about Dean, began almost to cry.
"Oh, we shouldn’t let him go like this. What’ll we do?" Old Dean’s gone, I thought, and out loud I said, "He’ll be all right." And off we went to the sad and disinclined concert for which I had no stomach whatever and all the time I was thinking of Dean and how he got back on the train and rode over three thousand miles over that awful land and never knew why he had come anyway, except to see me. (V.1.17, V.1.18)
At the end of On the Road, Dean travels east to see Sal, just as Sal once went west to see Dean. But Dean’s expectations are ill-defined, and in his confusion he leaves the East with the same failure of purpose as Sal once left the West.