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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.

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