Sal's Search For "It" In "On The Road"

1515 words - 6 pages

In Jack Kerouac's On The Road, Sal Paradise is a man who was fed up with his life and what was expected of him. He was no longer content to sit around and allow society to dictate to him whom he should be and how he should act. It was at this time in his life that Sal met Dean Moriarty who saw that he was ripe for influence. Sal didn't necessarily know exactly what he wanted, but he knew he needed change. Dean became his "guru" in that Sal knew that Dean would teach him about life and lead him on great adventures that would help him discover the world around him and what he wanted out of it. Sal was ready for something more. He comes to this realization while riding on the bus with Dean through the Lincoln Tunnel.

."..I was beginning to get the bug like Dean... He was conning me and I knew it... and he knew I knew..., but I didn't care and we got along fine... I began to learn from him as much as he probably learned from me." (pg. 4)

It was here Sal understood that, good, bad, present, or absent, Dean would greatly affect his life.

Sal and his eclectic crew of friends decide that if they really do want more out of life, and they truly want answers to their questions, a journey is necessary. They go on an excursion across America looking for something more significant than what society had thrust upon them. This merry band is tired of society's version of "normal." They knew they didn't fit into the social order as it was. So they went in search of their own "norms", their own "American dream", and their own place in the world. Sal and his friends went in search of "IT."

Kerouac guides the reader to the understanding that "IT" can be different for everyone. Sal began his search for "IT" because he was restless in New York and did not know how to fix the feeling. Though Sal criss-crossed the country searching for something more, his true journey was internal; and if he "seemed to trespass most boundaries, legal and moral, it was only in the hope of finding a belief on the other side" (xxix). Though Sal could not define what he yearned for, he threw himself into America in search none-the-less. On the other hand, Dean knew what he was seeking. Dean's "IT" was spiritually related. Dean longed for the insight into the most intimate secrets of the Universe. Sal and all of his friends were in pursuit of something more. Yet all of their definitions of what they were in search of were different.

I agree with Kerouac that the idea of "IT" is different for each person. For some, "IT" may be material, like the stability of a well paying job or a house to call their own. For others "IT" may be spiritually or morally linked, such as a person or family to love and be loved by, a place where they fit in, or the search and discovery of a higher power. And still other versions of "IT" may be indefinable, a feeling, a sentiment, an emotion, or an inclination. Dean asserts this particular aspect of "IT" when he tries to explain the idea if "IT"...

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