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On the Road

On the Road

by Jack Kerouac

Criminality Quotes Page 8

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Quote #22

But suddenly a big pistol-packing trooper appeared, just as I was ready to pull out, and asked to see my driver’s license. "The fella in the back seat has the license," I said. Dean and Marylou were sleeping together under the blanket. The cop told Dean to come out. Suddenly he whipped out his gun and yelled, "Keep your hands up!"

"Offisah," I heard Dean say in the most unctious and ridiculous tones, "offisah, I was only buttoning my flah." Even the cop almost smiled. Dean came out, muddy, ragged, T-shirted, rubbing his belly, cursing, looking everywhere for his license and his car papers. The cop rummaged through our back trunk. All the papers were straight.

"Only checking up," he said with a broad smile. "You can go on now. Benson ain’t a bad town actually; you might enjoy it if you had breakfast here."

"Yes yes yes," said Dean, paying absolutely no attention to him, and drove off. We all sighed with relief. The police are suspicious when gangs of youngsters come by in new cars without a cent in their pockets and have to pawn watches. "Oh, they’re always interfering," said Dean, "but he was a much better cop than that rat in Virginia. They try to make headline arrests; they think every car going by is some big Chicago gang. They ain’t got nothin else to do." We drove on to Tucson. (II.8.35-II.8.38).

Dean has a sophisticated understanding of police.

Quote #23

Nothing happened that night; we went to sleep. Everything happened the next day. In the afternoon De and I went to downtown Denver for our various chores and see the travel bureau for a car to New York. On the way home in the late afternoon we started out for Okie Frankie’s up Broadway, where Dean suddenly sauntered into a sports goods store, calmly picked up a softball on the counter, came out, popping it up and down in his palm. Nobody noticed; nobody ever notices such things. It was a drowsy, afternoon. We played catch as we went along (III.7.1)

Sal doesn’t hold Dean responsible for his acts of petty crime.

Quote #24

We stumbled over one another to get out of the cab at the roadhouse, a hillbilly roadhouse near the hills, and went in and ordered beers. Everything was collapsing, and to make things inconceivably more frantic there was an ecstatic spastic fellow in the bar who threw his arms around Dean and moaned in his face, and Dean went mad again with sweats and insanity, and to add still more to the unbearable confusion Dean rushed out the next moment and stole a car right from the driveway and took a dash to downtown Denver and came back with a newer, better one. Suddenly in the bar I looked up and saw cops and people were milling around the driveway in the headlights of cruisers, talking about the stolen car. "Somebody’s been stealing cars left and right here!" the cop was saying. Dean stood right in back of him, listening and saying, "Ah yass, ah yass." The cops went off to check. Dean came in the bar and rocked back and forth with the poor spastic kid who had just gotten married that day and was having a tremendous drunk while his bride waited somewhere. "Oh, man, this guy is the greatest in the world!" yelled Dean. "Sal, Frankie, I’m going out and get a real good car this time and we’ll all go and with Tony too" (the spastic saint) "and have a big drive in the mountains." And he rushed out. Simultaneously a cop rushed in and said a car stolen from downtown Denver was parked in the driveway. People discussed it in knots. From the window I saw Dean jump into the nearest car and roar off, and not a soul noticed him. A few minutes later he was back in an entirely different car, a brand-new convertible. "This one is a beaut!" he whispered in my ear. "The other one coughed too much - I left it at the crossroads, saw that lovely parked in front of a farmhouse. Took a spin in Denver. Come on, man, let’s all go riding." All the bitterness and madness of his entire Denver life was blasting out of his system like daggers. His face was red and sweaty and mean.

"No, I ain’t gonna have nothing to do with stolen cars." (III.7.14, III.7.15)

Although Sal doesn’t hold Dean responsible for his small crimes, he, unlike Dean, draws a line somewhere, refusing to take part in Dean’s run of stolen cars.

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