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On the Road

On the Road

by Jack Kerouac

Visions of America Quotes Page 1

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

But Dean’s intelligence was every bit as formal and shining and complete, without the tedious intellectualness. And his "criminality" was not something that sulked and sneered; it was a wild yea- saying overburst of American joy; it was Western, the west wind, an ode from the Plains, something new, long prophesied, long a-coming (he only stole cars for joy rides). (1.1.16)

Interestingly, Sal connects criminality with Americanism.

Quote #2

At this time, 1947, bop was going like mad all over America. The fellows at the Loop blew, but with a tired air, because bop was somewhere between its Charlie Parker Ornithology period and another period that began with Miles Davis. And as I sat there listening to that sound of the light which bop has come to represent for all of us, I thought of all my friends from one end of the country to the other and how they were really all in the same vast backyard doing something so frantic and rushing-about. (I.3.2)

Sal uses jazz to characterize America; American jazz connects him and his friends, because it is the same jazz in Chicago as it is in San Francisco.

Quote #3

And here for the first time in my life I saw my beloved Mississippi River, dry in the summer haze, low water, with its big rank smell that smells like the raw body of America itself because it washes it up. Rock Island - railroad tracks, shacks, small downtown section; and over the bridge to Davenport, same kind of town, all smelling of sawdust in the warm midwest sun. (I.3.3)

Despite his restlessness and dissatisfaction, Sal still feels a devotion to his "beloved" America. Here, again, is the problem of the Beat Generation – reconciling their patriotism with what they see to be an inadequate post World War II America.

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