On the Road
by Jack Kerouac
On the Road Theme of 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 also in sober moments. Characters are concerned with the best way to understand their visions in order to use them and to learn from them.
Questions About Versions of Reality
- What’s going on with Sal's snake vision? We were most interested in the part where Sal says either the snake is evil and must be destroyed or…it’s completely harmless.
- God seems to crop up in visions all the time. What is it about God and visions that go so well together?
- What makes a person seem like God to Dean? To Sal?
- Is the Shrouded Traveler death, or is it Dean? Or is it both?
Chew on This
Ed Dunkel’s "ghost on the sidewalk" becomes a symbol for each character’s alter ego. As Ed, Sal, and Dean evolve as characters, they each define what their own ghost on the sidewalk is, and subsequently break away from it.
Visions are the only way in which Sal emulates Dean’s madness. They are his glimpse into Dean’s other-world of spirituality and enlightenment.