On the Road
How we cite our quotes:
I could hear Dean, blissful and blabbering and frantically rocking. Only a guy who’s spent five years in jail can go to such maniacal helpless extremes; beseeching at the portals of the soft source, mad with a completely physical realization of the origins of life-bliss; blindly seeking to return the way he came. (II.5.14)
Sal attributes much of Dean’s madness to his criminal youth and time in jail.
He had a set of chains in his room that he said he used with his psychoanalyst; they were experimenting with narcoanalysis and found that Old Bull had seven separate personalities, each growing worse and worse on the way down, till finally he was a raving idiot and had to be restrained with chains. The top personality was an English lord, the bottom the idiot. Halfway he was an old Negro who stood in line, waiting with everyone else, and said, "Some’s bastards, some’s ain’t, that’s the score." (II.6.34)
The mad characters in On the Road seek to characterize their madness in order to organize and understand it.
He held on. Dean had gotten worse, he confided in me. "He seems to me to be headed for his ideal fate, which is compulsive psychosis dashed with a jigger of psychopathic irresponsibility and violence." He looked at Dean out of the corner of his eye. "If you go to California with this madman you’ll never make it. Why don’t you stay in New Orleans with me?" (II.6.42)
The mad characters all make judgments on each other’s madness, no one recognizing that they themselves suffer from the same instabilities.