We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
On the Road

On the Road


by Jack Kerouac

On the Road Part 1, Chapter 1 Summary

  • The narrator doesn’t give us his name yet. We’ll let you know when he does. But, not before.
  • The narrator starts off by talking about this guy Dean Moriarty and how they went on the road together.
  • The narrator has just split up with his wife and is living with his aunt, and Dean just married a woman named Marylou and is coming to New York, where apparently everyone that matters (including some guys named "Chad" and "Carl") is hanging out.
  • Dean is interested in learning things – like Nietzsche.
  • Dean talks hectically and fast, with lots of energy. Also, the narrator tells us that sex is the only thing important to Dean.
  • Dean has been all over the place, including the West, meaning the other side of the country.
  • Marylou is useless.
  • Dean wants to learn how to write, so he shows up at our narrator’s doorstep, without Marylou (she has apparently "whored" herself back to Denver).
  • Did we mention Dean has been in jail? He has.
  • The narrator recognizes that Dean is conning him, but doesn’t care.
  • They go out boozing and looking for girls, but end up with Carlo Marx, which apparently creates some sort of intellectual orgasm between Dean and Carlo.
  • The narrator feels excluded. But, not in a bad way.
  • They all plan to travel west together, but Dean leaves first, after having been the greatest parking attendant to ever grace New York.
  • The narrator compares his other friends to Dean – Dean is smart, but definitely isn’t the kind of guy that tries to impress you at a cocktail party by spouting quotations of Proust. The narrator totally digs that and thinks it’s because Dean is from this magical "west" place.
  • The narrator plans to leave for the West, where he will learn some pearl of wisdom from Dean.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...