© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
On the Road

On the Road


by Jack Kerouac

On the Road Theme of Poverty

Poverty seems to be everywhere in the American that Sal sees. He meets homeless men on the side of the road and musicians playing for money. Sal even experiences poverty first hand as he travels. As for poor money management, Sal and his friends display an inability to find any sort of middle ground. Sal is either sending money home to his aunt or asking her for more money.

Questions About Poverty

  1. Why is Sal so awful at managing his money? What might this reflect about him, or about the Beat Generation that he represents?
  2. Is there a relationship between poverty and drugs?
  3. We noticed a lack of a happy medium in Sal’s money dealings. He either has a ton of cash and sends money home to his aunt, or doesn’t have enough and asks her for money. Are there other examples of this extremes-only lifestyle in the book?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Sal and Dean differ in many ways, but the one thing they have in common is their constant state of poverty. Poverty is a lens through which we can view their friendship.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...