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On the Road

On the Road

by Jack Kerouac

Madness Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #16

His laugh was. maniacal; it started low and ended high, exactly like the laugh of a radio maniac, only faster and more like a titter. Then he kept reverting to businesslike tones. There was no purpose in our coming downtown, but he found purposes. He made us all hustle, Marylou for the lunch groceries, me for a paper to dig the weather report, Ed for cigars. Dean loved to smoke cigars. (II.1.16)

Sal repeatedly recognizes madness in the nature of different characters’ laughs.

Quote #17

It was a completely meaningless set of circumstances that made Dean come, and similarly I went off with him for no reason. In New York I had been attending school and romancing around with a girl called Lucille, a beautiful Italian honey-haired darling that I actually wanted to marry. All these years I was looking for the woman I wanted to marry. I couldn’t meet a girl without saying to myself, What kind of wife would she make? I told Dean and Marylou about Lucille. Marylou wanted to know all about Lucille, she wanted to meet her. We zoomed through Richmond, Washington, Baltimore, and up to Philadelphia on a winding country road and talked. "I want to marry a girl," I told them, "so I can rest my soul with her till we both get old. This can’t go on all the time - all this franticness and jumping around. We’ve got to go someplace, find something." (II.2.2)

Sal is unable to participate in Dean’s madness because he seeks reason and stability.

Quote #18

"What is the meaning of this voyage to New York? What kind of sordid business are you on now? I mean, man, whither goest thou? Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?"

"Whither goest thou?" echoed Dean with his mouth open. We sat and didn’t know what to say. (II.3.8, II.3.9)

Dean and Sal are unable to provide logic or reasoning to support their actions that, at heart, are driven only by madness.

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