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On the Road

On the Road

by Jack Kerouac

Poverty Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #16

A couple of Negro characters whispered in my ear about tea. One buck. I said okay, bring it. The connection came in and motioned me to the cellar toilet, where I stood around dumbly as he said, "Pick up, man, pick up."

"Pick up what?" I said.

He had my dollar already. He was afraid to point at the floor. It was no floor, just basement. There lay something that looked like a little brown turd. He was absurdly cautious. "Got to look out for myself, things ain’t cool this past week." I picked up the turd, which was a brown-paper cigarette, and went back to Terry, and off we went to the hotel room to get high. Nothing happened. It was Bull Durham tobacco. I wished I was wiser with my money. (I.13.5-I.13.7).

Sal’s drug use is one of the contributing factors to his money problems.

Quote #17

Terry and I had to decide absolutely and once and for all what to do. We decided to hitch to New York with our remaining money. She picked up five dollars from her sister that night. We had about thirteen or less. So before the daily room rent was due again we packed up and took off on a red car to Arcadia, California, where Santa Anita racetrack is located under snow-capped mountains. It was night. (I.13.8)

Sal experiences poverty in its most extreme form when he is with Terry. This raises interesting questions about love and relationships, and their potentially detrimental effects.

Quote #18

I whipped out my last shining five-dollar bill which stood between me and the New Jersey shore and paid for Terry and me. Now I had four bucks. Terry and I looked at each other.

"Where we going to sleep tonight, baby?"

"I don’t know."(I.13.21-I.13.23)

Sal doesn’t recognize the responsibility of having a family that depends on him. For the short time that he plays the role of husband to Terry and father to her son, he becomes as poor a provider as Dean is to his families. He also abandoned his pseudo-family in the same way, and due to the same restlessness.

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