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On the Road
On the Road
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AGRICULTURE, AGRICULTURE OPERATIONS, AND RELATED SCIENCES
ARCHITECTURE AND RELATED SERVICES
AREA, ETHNIC, CULTURAL, AND GENDER STUDIES
BIOLOGICAL AND BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES
BUSINESS, MANAGEMENT, MARKETING, AND RELATED SUPPORT SERVICES
COMMUNICATION, JOURNALISM, AND RELATED PROGRAMS
COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGIES/TECHNICIANS AND SUPPORT SERVICES
COMPUTER AND INFORMATION SCIENCES AND SUPPORT SERVICES
ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE/LETTERS
FAMILY AND CONSUMER SCIENCES/HUMAN SCIENCES
FOREIGN LANGUAGES, LITERATURES, AND LINGUISTICS
HEALTH PROFESSIONS AND RELATED CLINICAL SCIENCES
HEALTH-RELATED KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS
HIGH SCHOOL/SECONDARY DIPLOMAS AND CERTIFICATES
INTERPERSONAL AND SOCIAL SKILLS
LEGAL PROFESSIONS AND STUDIES
LEISURE AND RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES
LIBERAL ARTS AND SCIENCES, GENERAL STUDIES AND HUMANITIES
MATHEMATICS AND STATISTICS
MECHANIC AND REPAIR TECHNOLOGIES/TECHNICIANS
NATURAL RESOURCES AND CONSERVATION
PARKS, RECREATION, LEISURE, AND FITNESS STUDIES
PERSONAL AND CULINARY SERVICES
PERSONAL AWARENESS AND SELF-IMPROVEMENT
PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES
PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION AND SOCIAL SERVICE PROFESSIONS
RESERVE OFFICER TRAINING CORPS (JROTC, ROTC)
SECURITY AND PROTECTIVE SERVICES
TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION/INDUSTRIAL ARTS
THEOLOGY AND RELIGIOUS VOCATIONS
TRANSPORTATION AND MATERIALS MOVING
VISUAL AND PERFORMING ARTS
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On the Road Themes
Little Words, Big Ideas
In On the Road, restlessness and the resulting motion are tied up with the madness of the Beat Generation. The need to move comes from dissatisfaction. Most interesting is motion through time vs. m...
In Sal's eyes, sadness is everywhere in America. He sees it in people, places, and in his own dreams. Most of all, sadness is tied to solitude. Sal feels worst when he is unable to connect to those...
In On the Road, madness it the main source of Sal’s idolatry of Dean. While he himself cannot achieve the madness of his hero, Sal is fascinated and follows Dean around because of it. While m...
Sal’s chooses Dean as his hero because of Dean’s madness, holiness, and vitality. In his hero, Sal recognizes the ability to act in a way he admires but knows he cannot imitate. Because...
Drugs and Alcohol
In On the Road, we see different kinds of alcohol use, including abuse and alcoholism in Dean’s missing father. Both drug and alcohol use can be sources of money problems and poverty, as char...
While these are often separate themes, the characters in On the Road fail to distinguish between love and sex, sex and marriage, lust and love. Dean marries or wants to marry every girl he lusts af...
Time is a big deal in On the Road. As it ticks away, characters feel an impending sense of franticness, a fear of death, and a need to move and beat time. "Knowing time" is tied up in the word "bea...
In On the Road, we get a glimpse into a friendship based on hero-worship. Sal puts Dean on a pedestal, and in doing so later struggles to feel equal with his friend. The two become uncomfortable wh...
Holiness is one of the sources of Sal’s idolatry for Dean. It becomes Dean’s distinguishing characteristic, making him unique from common criminals. Holiness is part of the Beat Generat...
Art and Culture
In On the Road, the music we focus on is jazz, more specifically the American bebop of the 1940’s. Music has religious associations, as Dean sees several musicians as God. It brings about a m...
Visions of America
Sal views America though many different lenses, characterizing the country by its use of alcohol, its sadness, the relationships between men and women, American music (jazz), and the poverty he see...
In On the Road, the West becomes a symbol for childhood dreams and ideals, a haven of cowboys and heroes. Sal is disappointed by the West, however, and at one point characterizes it as empty and th...
Much of On the Road contains anti-police sentiments. Since we as readers are sympathetic to the criminals, we take a side against the law enforcement, and the police are explicitly insulted for bei...
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. A...
Versions of Reality
Dreams in On the Road are often religious in nature, featuring God (in odd forms) or Biblical imagery (such as a snake). We see hallucinations both as the result of drugs or physical extremity, but...
Wisdom and Knowledge
In On the Road, much of learning is a spiritual process. Sal watches Dean reach his "Tao decisions" as he advances spiritually, and frequently speaks of "the word" or a "pearl of wisdom" coming to...
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