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On the Road

On the Road

by Jack Kerouac

Criminality Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

"That’s right, man, now you’re talking." And a kind of holy lightning I saw flashing from his excitement and his visions, which he described so torrentially that people in buses looked around to see the "overexcited nut." In the West he’d spent a third of his time in the poolhall, a third in jail, and a third in the public library. They’d seen him rushing eagerly down the winter streets, bareheaded, carrying books to the poolhall, or climbing trees to get into the attics of buddies where he spent days reading or hiding from the law. (I.1.10)

Part of Dean’s madness and appeal lies in his criminal past.

Quote #2

But Dean’s intelligence was every bit as formal and shining and complete, without the tedious intellectualness. And his "criminality" was not something that sulked and sneered; it was a wild yea- saying overburst of American joy; it was Western, the west wind, an ode from the Plains, something new, long prophesied, long a-coming (he only stole cars for joy rides). (1.1.16)

Sal sees America in Dean’s criminality, an observation that lets Dean off the moral hook for his crimes. He’s only a playful cowboy, we are told, not a real, hardened criminal.

Quote #3

The wind from Lake Michigan, bop at the Loop, long walks around South Halsted and North Clark, and one long walk after midnight into the jungles, where a cruising car followed me as a suspicious character. (I.3.2)

Sal spends much of the text pursued or suspected by law enforcement. This, we are told at several points, is the result of his friendship with Dean.

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