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On the Road

On the Road

by Jack Kerouac

Poverty Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #4

In my earlier days I’d been to sea with a tall rawboned fellow from Louisiana called Big Slim Hazard, William Holmes Hazard, who was hobo by choice. As a little boy he’d seen a hobo come up to ask his mother for a piece of pie, and she had given it to him, and when the hobo went off down the road the little boy had said, "Ma, what is that fellow?" "Why. that’s a ho-bo." "Ma, I want to be a ho-bo someday." "Shut your mouth, that’s not for the like of the Hazards." But he never forgot that day, and when he grew up, after a shortspell playing football at LSU, he did become a hobo. Big Slim and I spent many nights telling stories and spitting tobacco juice in paper containers. (I.4.39)

Sal’s story of Big Slim Hazard presents the interesting view that poverty may actually be desired, forcing the readers to question their notion of the American Dream.

Quote #5

I was with Montana Slim and we started hitting the bars. I had about seven dollars, five of which I foolishly squandered that night. (I.5.1)

Many of Sal’s money difficulties arise from his use of alcohol.

Quote #6

It was a war with social overtones. Dean was the son of a wino, one of the most tottering bums of Larimer Street, and Dean had in fact been brought up generally on Larimer Street and thereabouts. He used to plead in court at the age of six to have his father set free. He used to beg in front of Larimer alleys and sneak the money back to his father, who waited among the broken bottles with an old buddy. Then when Dean grew up he began hanging around the Glenarm pool-halls; he set a Denver record for stealing cars and went to the reformatory. From the age of eleven to seventeen he was usually in reform school. His specialty was stealing cars, gunning for girls coming out of high school in the afternoon, driving them out to the mountains, making them, and coming back to sleep in any available hotel bathtub in town. His father, once a respectable and hardworking tinsmith, had become a wine alcoholic, which is worse than a whisky alcoholic, and was reduced to riding freights to Texas in the winter and back to Denver in the summer. Dean had brothers on his dead mother’s side - she died when he was small - but they disliked him. Dean’s only buddies were the poolhall boys. Dean, who had the tremendous energy of a new kind of American saint, and Carlo were the underground monsters of that season in Denver, together with the poolhall gang, and, symbolizing this most beautifully, Carlo had a basement apartment on Grant Street and we all met there many a night that went to dawn - Carlo, Dean, myself, Tom Snark, Ed Dunkel, and Roy Johnson. More of these others later. (I.6.5)

Alcohol becomes a means by which to classify people socially; here we see that alcoholism and poverty are connected, and both shunned by certain facets of society.

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