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On the Road
by Jack Kerouac
Sal Paradise Timeline and Summary
Sal has split up with his wife and meets the hero-like Dean Moriarty. Sal watches Dean and Carlo interact. He plans to go west when Remi Boncoeur invites them. Sal suffers through bad weather and gets depressed on his war across country. He makes it to Chicago, which lasts about ten minutes before he leaves for Denver. Sal hitches a lot of rides with, among others, a woman, a truck driver, and some college boys. Sal meets Eddie, an Irish hitchhiker. Sal gets on the greatest hitchhiking ride ever, a flatbed truck with a multitude of his kind of people, including Montana Slim and Mississippi Gene. Sal and Slim get off in Cheyenne, get drunk, and hit on some girls. Sal gets to Denver. He hangs out in Tim Gray’s apartment, but without Tim Gray. Roland Major is there instead. Sal meets Camille. He meets up with Carlo and Dean, and they all go out drinking together in Denver. Roland Major chastises Sal for being loud and drunkenly obnoxious in Tim Gray’s apartment. He chills out with Eddie (who makes a miraculous appearance) and party at the Rawlins’ house. Sal remarks on the creepy beatness of Carlo’s apartment, while Carlo and Dean take drugs and get all soul-connected to each other. Sal treks to Central City in the Rockies with "the other gang" (i.e., not Carlo and Dean). Lots of girls and booze and debauchery. Sal asks his aunt for money. He gets with an uninteresting girl and sleeps with her. Men and women together? Sucks, he says. He and Dean half-heartedly search for Dean’s father in Denver. Sal arrives in San Francisco and meets up with Remi and Lee Ann. Sal tries to write a story for Hollywood, but it is too sad. He becomes a guard in a night barracks with Remi. Sal gets drunk and hangs the flag up upside down. Sal comments on Remi’s penchant for stealing. Make that everyone's penchant for stealing. He starts to lust after Lee Ann, but holds himself back. He watches Remi lose all his money at the racetrack. Sal agrees to be on his best behavior for Remi’s stepfather, but does nothing of the sort. He runs into Roland Major. They get drunk together and imitate Hemingway. Sal leaves San Francisco and heads south, meeting Terry on the way to L.A. He and Terry have lots of suspicions of each other followed by sex. They have no money, so they get drunk together. Sal meets Rickey and is drawn in by the mañana mantra until he experiences starvation. He tries picking cotton and is really bad at it. But he loves being one with the earth. He hitches rides to Hollywood and digs it for a few hours. Sal heads home and meets The Ghost of the Susquehanna somewhere around the Mississippi River. Sal makes it home just in time to see that he missed Dean. He chills out in New York for a while until Dean and Co. show up. Sal thinks Marylou looks hotter this time. Also, he notes that Dean is crazier. He, Dean, Ed, and Marylou drive Sal’s brother’s furniture to his new house. Sal explains that he was going to marry a woman named Lucille, until Dean and everybody messed it up for him. He, Dean, Ed, and Marylou wash dishes to pay for their food. Sal muses on Carlo’s evolving spirituality. On the road, he and Dean discuss time and God. Sal reveals his visions of the Shrouded Traveler. Lucille chastises him for spending too much time with crazy friends. Sal decides he can’t marry Lucille because he would rather chase around after his mad heroes. He gets high. He is unable to explain his decisions to Carlo before they leave for New Orleans. Sal agrees to have an affair with Marylou, at Dean’s request, but is unable to bring himself to do it. He does plan to have sex with her once they get to San Francisco. Sal blames Dean’s sexual depravity on his time in jail. They all take off for New Orleans. Sal arrives in New Orleans, along with Dean, Marylou, and Ed. He meets up with old friends Bull and Jane Lee. Sal smokes pot with Bull Lee and the gang. Sal examines Bull’s soulful relationship with his wife Jane. Sal ignores Bull’s advice that Dean is going mad and that he (Sal) should just stay in New Orleans. Sal chills out with a high Jane. Sal has a vision of his father at the racetrack, but fails to recognize it and make money. Sal competes with Dean and realizes Dean is so much faster than he – in more ways than one. He feels protective after noting Dean’s attraction to Bull’s daughter. He learns how to hop freight trains from Ed and Dean. He leaves for California with Dean and Marylou. When Sal is driving, he gets driven into a side ditch by some directions-seeking workers and ends up stuck in the mud. He works with Dean to steal food, since they have no money. After some encouragement, he gets naked along with Dean and Marylou while they drive. Sal sleeps while Marylou and Dean have sex. He again refuses to have sex with Marylou while Dean is away for the night, but he does talk with her about how she’s sad. Sal pawns his watch for gas money. Sal recalls Terry as they travel. He arrives in San Francisco with Dean and Marylou. Sal is surprisingly non-judgmental when Dean abandons him and Marylou without money, food or a place to stay. He reveals his snake visions to Marylou. He realizes that Marylou doesn’t really want him, she just wanted to use him to get to Dean. As he experiences a slow and torturous starvation, Sal has visions of his "mother of about 200 years ago in England." She scolds him. Sal is saved by Dean, who brings him to Camille’s place. He goes out with Dean to chill with Sam Gaillard. Sal has had enough of San Francisco and heads back east. He ends up in Denver, completely alone and mourning the fact. Sal gets money from a rich girl and heads back, once again, to San Francisco and to Dean. Sal realizes that Camille and Galatea are friends, and starts to realize (gasp!) that these women are actually people, too, with feelings and everything. He and Dean decide to go to Italy and have an awkward friendship moment. He and Dean get chauffeured around San Francisco by Roy Johnson. Sal dubs Dean the "Holy Goof" while everyone is sitting around and criticizing Dean’s life choices. Sal goes out to dig San Francisco for one last night with Dean. He picks up bags from Galatea, and finds her reading cards about Ed. It turns out that Dean is the corrupting force in everyone’s life. Sal accompanies Dean to Denver to look for Dean’s missing father. On the way, he listens to Dean talk about IT. Sal defends Dean and his crazy driving to the TERRIFIED passengers the car. Sal gets ridiculously angry at Dean for pointing out their age difference (Sal is five years older than Dean). Then he says scathing, mean things to him. Sal then apologizes and uses some excuse having to do with defense mechanisms. Sal brings Dean to a former neighbor’s house to stay. He has to warn Dean to stay away from the young girl. He muses on Dean’s cousin, Sam. Sal wants nothing to do with Dean’s stolen cars, but helps clean up the mess. He and Dean are forced to flee Denver and the stolen cars fiasco. He and Dean pick up a Cadillac from a travel bureau. Sal watches Dean and Beverly, a waitress, with some envy. He and Dean head to Chicago with some college boys in the back seat. Moments before Dean ends up in a ditch, Sal warns him that he is going too fast and may end up in a ditch. Sal explains to the boys that Dean is his brother. He muses on the most beautiful girl he has ever seen, the daughter of a farmer on the side of the road. Sal thinks that Ed Wall "used to be Dean’s older brother." Sal dubs Dean "The Angel of Terror." When he can’t take the speed anymore, Sal heads for the back seat of the Cadillac. Sal and Dean make it to Chicago. He and Dean have a crazy jazz night. Sal runs into a boring girl and tries futilely to make her not boring. He and Dean end up in Detroit. Sal discusses being covered in excrement; it doesn’t matter, he says. He ends up back in New York with Dean. Sal introduces Dean to Inez. Sal realizes that the Italy plan is off. Sal sells a book, so now he has money. Before Sal leaves New York, he and Dean make plans to be old together. Sal leaves New York. He doesn’t feel "at home" anywhere. He meets Henry Glass, who is like Dean (in the jail sense) but not like Dean (in the holy goof sense). He introduces Henry to Tim Gray and Stan Shephard. Sal decides to go to Mexico, and suddenly finds out that Dean is coming. He sees Dean as the Shrouded Traveler, pursuing him to his death. Once Dean arrives, Sal declares that Dean is "finally an Angel." He gets to Mexico, along with Stan and Dean. He thinks Mexico is magic. Sal gets high with Dean, Victor, and Stan. Sal thinks that Dean is God for a moment. He goes to a brothel with Victor, Dean, and Stan. Sal lusts after a sixteen-year-old girl but never ends up having sex with her. He goes to a bathhouse with Stan. Sal spends an insect-ridden night outside in the jungle with Stan and Dean. He digs the kind policeman. He has a vision, or dreams, of a white horse pursued by dogs. Sal wonders at the innocence of the Indians they pass as while driving. He arrives in Mexico City with Dean and Stan. Sal gets dysentery and is feverish when abandoned by Dean. On the way back to New York, Sal meets the old man with white hair, who tells him to "go moan for man." Once Sal gets back to New York, he meets the girl he has spent years looking for (Laura). He thinks Dean is crazier than ever when he shows up. Sal goes out with Remi one night and is not able to help Dean as Dean prepares to travel back to San Francisco, yet again. Sal ruminates on his friend Dean.