On the Road
How we cite our quotes:
His language was melodious and slow. He was patient. His charge was a sixteen-year-old tall blond kid, also in hobo rags; that is to say, they wore old clothes that had been turned black by the soot of railroads and the dirt of boxcars and sleeping on the ground. The blond kid was also quiet and he seemed to be running away from something, and it figured to be the law the way he looked straight ahead and wet his lips in worried thought. (I.4.9)
Sal simply assumes a criminal past of the impoverished men he meets on the road.
"You got any money?" he said to me.
"Hell no, maybe enough for a pint of whisky till I get to Denver. What about you?"
"I know where I can get some."
"Anywhere. You can always folly a man down an alley, can’t you?" (I.4.10-I.4.14)
Criminal acts seem to be the only option for the impoverished men on the road.
These barracks were for the temporary quartering of overseas construction workers. The men who came through stayed there, waiting for their ship. Most of them were bound for Okinawa. Most of them were running | away from something - usually the law. There were tough groups from Alabama, shifty men from New York, all kinds from all over. And, knowing full well how horrible it would be to work a full year in Okinawa, they drank. The job of the special guards was to see that they didn’t tear the barracks’ down. We had our headquarters in the main building, just a wooden contraption with panel-walled offices. Here at a rolltop desk we sat around, shifting our guns off our hips and! yawning, and the old cops told stories.
It was a horrible crew of men, men with cop-souls, all except Remi and myself. Remi was only trying to make a living, and so was I, but these men wanted to make arrests and compliments from the chief of police in town. They even said that if you didn’t make at least one a month you’d be fired. I gulped at the prospect of making an arrest. What actually happened was that I was as drunk as anybody in the barracks -the night all hell broke loose. (I.11.17, I.17.18)
Sal fails pitifully in the role of law-enforcer, preferring the company of the drunk and rowdy men to his fellow watchmen. This suggests that he is more of a criminal than he originally suspected.