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On the Road

On the Road

by Jack Kerouac

Poverty Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #19

I was through with my chores in the cottonfield. I could feel the pull of my own life calling me back. I shot my aunt a penny postcard across the land and asked for another fifty. (I.13.44)

Sal’s aunt becomes a barometer for his monetary situation, as we see him either sending her or asking her for money. He seems not to be able to strike a balance in between. Like Dean, his activities begin taking the form of extremes.

Quote #20

That night in Harrisburg I had to sleep in the railroad station on a bench; at dawn the station masters threw me out. Isn’t it true that you start your life a sweet child believing in everything under your father’s roof? Then comes the day of the Laodiceans, when you know you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, and with the visage of a gruesome grieving ghost you go shuddering through nightmare life. I stumbled haggardly out of the station; I had no more control. All I could see of the morning was a whiteness like the whiteness of the tomb. I was starving to death. All I had left in the form of calories were the last of the cough drops I’d bought in Shelton, Nebraska, months ago; these I sucked for their sugar. I didn’t know how to panhandle. I stumbled out of town with barely enough strength to reach the city limits. (I.14.8)

Sal identifies a feeling of disillusionment accompanying his own poverty. He believes that one does not understand hardship until experiencing it firsthand.

Quote #21

"Ah now, man," said Dean, "I’ve been digging you for years about the home and marriage and all those fine wonderful things about your soul." It was a sad night; it was also a merry night. In Philadelphia we went into a lunchcart and ate hamburgers with our last food dollar. (II.2.3)

Sal and Dean don’t seem to learn from their experiences when it comes to money; they repeatedly go broke together in the same way and with the same consequences.

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