, Research Paper
On the Road, by Jack Kerouac was considered to be the first “beat” novel. The lifestyle of beats is explained as going against mainstream norms. The two main characters in the novel Dean and Sal both go against normal society. On the Road was written during a time when mainstream society was in to materialistic possessions. The average person was concerned with having a good paying job and raising a family in the suburbs. Beatniks had the complete opposite goals in life then the average person. Beats wanted to be different and not be tied down to a signal job for the rest of their lives. They believed that mainstream society were slaves to the system. Dean and Sal lived their life one day at a time not worrying about where they were going to sleep or get money for the next meal. Dean and Sal’s lives were based opposite of the typical persons life; and that is how they felt comfortable. Things that were not ordinarily respected in normal society were comfortable for both Dean and Sal.
Dean’s character in the story was very important because it showed that a person does not have to go with traditional society. An example of Dean going against normal mainstream culture is the fact that he was in prison for a time in his life. People who follow conventional society would look down on someone who has been in jail. But, Sal and his other beatnik friends do not seem to judge Dean on his past criminal record. “He was a young jail kid all hung-up on the wonderful possibilities of becoming a real intellectual (p3).” The common person thinks of jail as a place for societies uneducated sick-minded criminal.
Dean is portrayed as a conman although; Deans’ friends do not mind his conning ways. “He was simply a youth tremendously excited with life, and though he was a con-man. He was conning me and I knew it (for room and board and how to write), and he knew I knew (this has been the basis of our relationship), but I didn’t care and we got along fine-no pestering, no catering; we tiptoed around each other like heartbreaking new friends (p4).”
Dean also, went against common culture at that time by traveling and working at odd jobs for small amounts of money to stay alive. Dean worked wherever he could to make money for food and his travel expenses. When he was visiting Sal in New York he got a job a car garage. To most people they would think that a job working in a garage and parking peoples’ cars is embarrassing. Dean bragged about being the best garage attendant and felt no shame in the low skilled employment. To Dean it was all about the different experiences and new things he learns going through life.
Sal is a lot like Dean he to likes to be different and not follow normal society. An example is his method on which he traveled to the west coast. Since Sal did not have a car or enough money to take a bus he relied on the dangerous method of hitchhiking. He found it exciting to not know how he was going to make it to San Francisco. He also, liked talking with new and different people. “The greatest ride in my life was about to come up, a truck, with a flatboard at the back, with about six or seven boys sprawled out on it, and the drivers, two young blond farmers from Minnesota, were picking up every single soul they found on that road-the most smiling, cheerful couple of handsome bumpkins you could ever wish to see, both wearing cotton shirts and overalls, nothing else; both thick-wristed and earnest, with broad howareyou smiles for anybody and anything that came across their path. I ran up, said ‘Is there room?’ They said, ‘Sure, hop on, ‘sroom for everybody (p22).”
Dean and Sal go against the normal cultural by using women for sex instead of respecting a woman and waiting till marriage. Throughout the novel Dean and Sal are constantly trying to take advantage of girls and use them for sex. “We picked up two girls, a pretty young blond and a fat brunette. They were dumb and sullen, but we wanted to make them. We took them to a rickety nightclub that was already closing, and there I spent all but two dollars on Scotches for them and beer for us. I was getting drunk and didn’t care; everything was fine. My whole being and purpose was pointed at the little blond (p33).” By doing this it makes Dean and Sal look bad to the normal woman. Dean and Sal are not willing to settle down with just one woman. At this time it broke all the rules of conventional society to be with more than one woman. Sal and Dean did not care they believed that sex was the greatest thing and one could just have sex and not worry about a relationship or starting a family.