© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
On the Road

On the Road

by Jack Kerouac

On the Road Part 2, Chapter 4 Summary

  • New Year’s Eve, 1948. Ed tells the story of the last New Year’s Eve when he saw his dead mother in a vision. Happens all the time.
  • Sal wants to know what Ed’s plans are. Plans? Who has plans? Just dig life.
  • Sal is apparently having visions of a Shrouded Traveler (Arabian) chasing him across a desert that will catch him before he reaches heaven. Dean thinks, (and Sal agrees in retrospect) that it’s the longing for death.
  • They chill out with this cat named Tom Saybrook who thinks these other cats (Dean, Carlo) are pretty cool. Sal explains that they’re from the West.
  • Lucille (that girl Sal is thinking about marrying) doesn’t like his friends. Mm-hmm.
  • OK get this: Marylou hits on Sal to make Lucille jealous, so Lucille goes out in a car with Dean (although he’s the one that invited her), but all they do is drink booze and talk. Oh, and Lucille is married and has a little girl.
  • Sal explains why he and Lucille won't work out: "She wanted me to be her way […] Lucille would never understand me because I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till I drop. This is the night, what it does to you. I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion."
  • Crazy New Year’s Eve partying follows.
  • They end up with Rollo Greb at his house on Long Island. He’s a mad scholar, excited and in ecstasy about life, like Dean. Dean totally digs Rollo, because Rollo "knows time" and reminds him of a famous jazz pianist.
  • Dean proceeds to reminisce about the pianist, how he dug him in a concert, how they had a connection, and Dean thought of him as God.
  • Sal thinks everything is the coolest thing he’s ever seen is his life, and believes he knows the secret of the world. But then he realizes he’s just high.