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On the Road
by Jack Kerouac
On the Road Part 1, Chapter 3 Summary
The narrator is getting low on money. And it’s been…one day. Jazz! Really sexy, chaotic jazz in Chicago that reminds him off his friends. He’s so excited about Chicago that he…leaves the next day on yet another bus. Of course, everything will be OK when he gets to Denver. Hmm… He hitches a ride with an older woman who lets him drive. He gets to see the Mississippi River. He gets stranded in small-town Iowa, which, if you have your pick, isn’t the greatest place to be stranded. A slightly psychotic looking truck driver picks him up and offers him a ride and, thankfully, doesn’t expect the narrator to talk to him or entertain him in any way. Our narrator switches to another truck driver. Same deal. He hitches a ride with some college boys that talk about exams, of all things. The narrator ends up at a hotel and wakes up with that feeling you get when you don’t know where you are and you really just want your teddy bear. He enjoys watching girls. Um, high school girls. Oops. Everything is going to be OK when he gets to Denver, where everyone (Carlo, Dean, Chad, and lots other cool cats) is hanging out. He meets an Irish hitchhiker who is most likely a criminal on the run. They try to hitchhiker together. They also get drunk together. These things seem to go hand in hand. He’s enthusiastic, this Irish guy, which the narrator likes. They get on a bus together. They meet some cowboys and decide to join them in driving two cars to Montana. Eddie (that’s the name of the Irish guy) is the craziest driver ever. And by craziest we mean ninety-miles-an-hour in a TRACTOR AND SHOELESS PEDESTRIAN zone. The narrator makes it clear that he likes people who are enthusiastic and talk, or tell great stories. In a diner, the narrator watches a wild, laughing cowboy across the room who he deems "the spirit of the West."’ They get stranded in Shelton, and Eddie recalls that he has been here before. A policeman stops them to ask if "You boys going to get somewhere, or just going?" Hmm! What an interesting question…Or as the narrator says, "It was a damned good question." Turns out he’s not a policeman, but a guy trying to get them to work at a carnival. They say "nah," essentially. A car stops for them but can only take one passenger. Eddie jumps in without a word, like an oh-so-loyal friend, wearing the shirt the narrator gave him to keep warm. Grrr. An uninteresting fellow drives him farther.
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