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On the Road

On the Road

by Jack Kerouac

Times Square

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Every time Sal returns to New York, he goes back to Times Square. Now you might have noticed a slightly obsessive discussion of time that permeates this novel. Time…Times Square…Time. Let’s give it a shot. Dean measures everything in terms of time, right? This many minutes for sleeping with Camille, this many hours for driving to Chicago, etc. And Sal, Sal always measures things in distance. He’s 2,000 miles from home, or there’s 50 miles left to Denver, and so on. Sal isn’t as conscious of time as Dean, until he returns to New York and looks out over "those awful cemetery cities beyond Long Island City" and realizes everyone’s going to die. So while he’s right back where he started geographically (New York), he realizes that TIME is running out. Because Sal thinks in terms of places, he needs a physical location to represent time, like Times Square.

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