On the Road :: Week Five

Welcome to the On the Road read-a-long! We’re reading this book through June and July. You can see the reading schedule and guidelines on the Starting Post Page.

Week Five: Read to Part 3, Chapter 3


This might be kind of short because a.) I’m a dork and I overdid the workout yesterday, which means my body is reminding me that I can no longer overdo anything and get away with it (and that includes sitting for long periods with an aching body), and b.) I didn’t like this week’s reading very much.

Dean and Marylou are on my shit list. I no longer like either of them. Dean is a douche – I have lost interest in what he’s doing, how he’s doing it, and what’s going to become of it. At the beginning, like Sal, I was a little enamored of Dean; excited to see where he would take us on this journey, what would become of him. Now I think of him as immature, lost, sad (and needing to take drugs to have any sort of up in his life), reckless, and self-centered. I’m thinking this may be the point – and perhaps the trajectory of my relationship with Dean’s character was meant to pan out this way… I don’t put it past Kerouac.

Marylou… I had so much hope for you. I thought you were going to be an interesting female character who could keep up with the guys. Now I see that you’re somewhat of a female version of Dean, only somewhat watered down. And the only thing worse than being a female version of Dean is being a watered down female version of Dean. I do not like you. Leave Sal alone.

Sal, I have high hopes for you. I am still rooting for you. I am sorry that you give and give and give to your friends and they take advantage of you because they know that you feed off of their craziness (which looks a lot like enthusiasm for life, but isn’t). I’m holding out for a lesson learned and a happier ending (or at least a safe one).

Did anyone else feel like they were on drugs for parts of this week’s reading? Again, possibly the point (at least the feeling of hallucination if not from drugs then from hunger). I actually had to start skimming a little because I got a bit dizzy — amazing that the  written word can do that to you.

I am afraid. Are Dean and Sal really going to go to Italy? My feeling is that Dean will flake out, per normal. But I admit, I’m a little nervous (and excited). I just hope Sal holds onto the money.

Who’s Reading Along:

** Please don’t forget to come to this blog each Friday and share your thoughts in the comments section of the weekly On the Road discussion (see below for more information).**

Susan E
JacquelineM (@jackiemania)
June @So_Meow
Ashley J.
Jessica M (@crazylilcuban)
Meg @ A Bookish Affair
Melody (Fingers & Prose)
Jessi (@j_addict)

Friendly Reminders:

  • If you are participating and I don’t have you on this list, please let me know in the comments section. I did not include people who said ‘maybe’ so if you have changed your mind and are definitely reading along with us, let me know so I can add you. Also, if you are not going to be able to join us anymore please let me know and I will take you off the list. 
  • Comments from the previous week’s reading will be closing Thursday afternoon (before the next discussion takes place on Friday). If you would like to be part of the discussion, please remember to comment before then. 
  • Each week, on Friday, share your thoughts about the previous week’s reading. If you are stuck on what to comment about, you can respond to my post or others’ comments. Regardless, you MUST check in each week (two weeks without a response and you will be taken off of the list — see below for details on why). You may have only one “off week” (which may not be the last week of reading for obvious reasons) and still be kept on the list, but you must let me know in the comment section by saying something like, “I’m catching up,” or “I’m still reading.” ***for all week’s discussions please refrain from posting ahead, even if you have read ahead, as to not spoil the book for others***
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  • If you go for two weeks without commenting in my weekly update comments section, I will assume you are no longer participating and will take you off of the list (*NEW GUIDELINE*, in order to get back onthe list, you need to a.) Have missed no more than two weeks of discussion, b.) Let me know you would like to be on the list again, and c.) consistently be part of the discussion for the next two weeks after requesting to be put back on the list.). This is in no way to be discouraging, but helps to keep the read-a-long organized (and helps me remember who’s completed what read-a-long…there (ahem) might be something fun for different levels of participants at the end of the year! Thanks!

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29 thoughts on “On the Road :: Week Five

  1. My favorite section this week was definitely the “a-rooni” section! Slim Galliard is REAL! Google Slim Galliard Soony Roony Song of Yxabat and listen to the youtube video :) There is also a video for Cement Mixer, which is mentioned in the book (a rooni) ;) The wikipedia entry is also particularly interesting. He invented a whole language called “Vout” I love the way Kerouac writes about it. I can visualize and hear the whole thing (I believe I can also smell smoke and whisky!). It really makes the fact that his writing was influenced by the loose, improvisational nature of Jazz hit home, too.

    I also thought the “hunger” section was just as visceral. I, too, was dizzy and disoriented reading it! It reminded me of when Lucy Snowe hallucinates at the festival in Villette!

    What do you all think Dean’s look was about at the end of our reading, part 3 ch 2 (page 189 in my copy)? I have my theories but would love to hear what you all think. How intense.

  2. I agree that both Dean and Marylou have let me down. I found it sad that Sal was left all alone by the end of part II and discovers early in part III that his friends basically suck. I didn’t like how Sal ‘finally went to Dean’ and Dean while seeming more ‘adult’ with his medical history, still acts like a boy in the face of manning up and taking care of his accidental family.

    I loved the beginning of Chapter 8 when they go to the swamps, finally a creepy part of the USA. The coasting down and up hills in Arizona was also a favorite. While I would hate to actually have to ration gas to get where I wanted, it was a very comical and interesting part.

    I seriously hope/doubt they will make it to Italy. The poor guys can barely make it across the country in one piece, I hope they don’t cross any borders. I was also thinking that perhaps Camille has post partum depression and it’s sort of going nuts now that she’s pregnant again? I really hated being in that house and Dean is a real dick for just leaving, no matter if Camille threw them out.

      • Ah, most definitely. He’s crazy and let’s not forget about the drugs. It’s no wonder she got mad when Sal showed up since the last time they were together Dean left her and then returned to her like it was nothing.

  3. I love the sprawl and poetry of Kerouac’s writing anchored by those little seemingly mundane details and place names: “With the radio on to a mystery program, and as I looked out the window and saw a sign that said USE COOPER’S PAINT and I said, “Okay, I will.” we rolled across the hoodwink night of the Louisiana plains–Lawtell, Eunice, Kinder, and De Quincy, western rickety towns becoming more bayou-like as we reached the Sabine”. And the description of Dean and Sal making scary noises in the car to tease Mary Lou (who still wants to listen the mystery programs once they get out of the swamp) was such a small, real moment.

    It seems as though while they are traveling, the limitations are an adventure, but when they get to where they are going, they run up against the walls of making a living and their friends’ habits and addictions. I thought the description of Dean coasting for 30 miles down the mountains without using any gas was a perfect metaphor for Dean as a buddy. ” Then we started down. Dean cut off the gas, threw in the clutch, and negotiated every hairpin turn and passed cars and did everything in the books without the benefit of an accelerator. I held on tight.”

    • I agree with your second paragraph. When they’re doing what they intended, are literally on the road, they do pretty fine and have a good time. But when they get to where they were planning it seems to continually fall apart until Sal says his usual ‘get me out of here’ phrases, makes sandwiches, and leaves.

    • “With the radio on to a mystery program, and as I looked out the window and saw a sign that said USE COOPER’S PAINT and I said, “Okay, I will.”

      I marked that part too – because I feel like that was SO real. I laughed when I read it because that’s something I would do… talk back to a sign after too long in a car (or too long on a wild trip). So mundane but relatable.

    • I also liked this moment. I related to Sal’s “I will” comment because I’m a sucker for a great advertising campaign. And I agree about the moment when they were making noises in the car to tease MaryLou. It’s just what you said–a “small, real moment.”

  4. I’m beginning to become quite certain that my husband’s father’s real name is Dean Moriarty. Ugh. I wish I could tell Sal that all his generosity wasn’t going to get either of them anywhere. Pretty sad how Dean just dumps Sal and Marylou; also sad how Sal realizes that Marylou’s only drawn to him through Dean. Getting a glimpse of Marylou apart from Dean makes it pretty apparent that she really isn’t going anywhere.

    I liked the descriptions of how they’d coast with the car in neutral in order to save gas. I can remember those days. :) And what about the kids promising cash from their aunt who owns a grocery store (that never pans out)?

    I loved the part when Sal walked by the fish & chips place and the woman’s look instantly created a whole imaginary world for him. I love it when one little thing will spur my imagination like that.

    Sal revisits the idea of Terry for a moment, which I found sweet. “I wished I were a Denver Mexican, or even a poor overworked Jap, anything but what I was so drearily, a “white man” disillusioned. All my like I’d had white ambitions; that was why I’d abandoned a good woman like Terry in the San Joaquin Valley.”

    • If your father-in-law’s name is Dean Moriarty that must mean yo have some pretty serious stories to tell, Melody! I laughed when I read that part (though maybe I should be cringing for you??).

      • Oh the stories. It’s a wonder my husband and his brother grew up into healthy, well-functioning adults! The drugs, the adventures, the heists, the women, but mostly the many many friends that he has made that somehow are willing to hand over all their money to him because he has that buzzing thrill for life. His unquenchable thirst for the experience is exhausting and imposing, but it does make for good stories. :)

  5. I was really not a fan of Dean or Marylou in this section either. I just wanted to shake them and tell them to grow up. It was upsetting how Dean failed Sal miserably. I keep holding out hope that Sal doesn’t do any more crazy things with Dean and just realizes how ridiculous of a person he was and gets away. Sheesh! I had a similar feeling of being dizzy and disoriented as well, I don’t think I’d ever be able to keep up with them in real life. But it was amazing to see how visceral of a reaction I got just from the words on the page.

  6. I am torn on MaryLou – I feel like, on the one hand, she’s very very young and impressionable. I’m not sure how I would have been able to resist Dean and his charm at such a young age. She’s pretty much just in it for him, and whatever he says goes. On the other hand, I’m not sure I would go along with the wife swap, or share my husband with his other wife. Dean completely turns me off now, and I keep waiting for Sal to wise up. I don’t think they’d actually make it to Italy, considering they can’t even make it cross country, but part of me wishes they would…

    • How old IS Marylou? Now that you say that – you might be right… I might have been a bit more like her too at a much younger age. Good point.

  7. Ohhhhhh me gawd…after reading about Burroughs’ “William Tell” murder of his lady, there was a minute there where I thought Marylou was a goner for sure! “I loved her so much I wanted to kill her”?? “One of us had to die”?? That was some BAAAAD GREEN!!!!! DO NOT LIKE this kind of suspense! I adore how Dean adores his baby daughter, though. His percentage breakdown of her geneology followed by “one hundred percent wonderful” was priceless.

    It really is impossible to imagine Dean & Sal in Italy. Just the getting there seems out of step from their back-and-forth road adventures. And their one-on-oneness is awkward. Especially for Dean. He wants his people around. Jackie, DO share what you think THAT LOOK meant. I confess cluelessness! (No gaydar involved in your theory, right?)

    I must mention how Sal’s narrow way of romanticizing the Negro’s “really joyous life that knows nothing of disappointment and ‘white sorrows'” surprised me. Why not a word for all the injustices they were suffering??

    And, in closing, I HAVEN’T GIVEN UP ON YOU DEAN! (yet…)

    • I think Dean was sizing Sal up. Saying in his head, consciously maybe for the first time, huh, this guy truly cares about me. Can I take advantage of him? Do I want to take advantage of him? (but you know, in a split second) I think Sal knows this (which is why he blushed) but he still wants in on the ride. As the kids say, “It’s complicated!”

      It’s pretty up for interpretation, though, which is why I am so curious about what you all think. It’s definitely A MOMENT.

      • I agree with that assessment. I think Dean realized there was something deeper, more serious or real maybe, about Sal than he’d found in most people he knew, and he was trying to figure out how that changed the game. Sal seems to think Dean is more real because he says and does whatever he thinks, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Dean thought Sal was more real because he refrained. It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out.

    • YES – Dean’s love for his daughter and ability to think the world of her (in a genuine, present way) felt out of character. It made him more real to me.

  8. Oh guys, sorry I’m so late to the party!!!

    Dean, Dean, Dean. I thought he was showing signs last week of being a human being but this week, he’s back to being (as you so appropriately said) a douche. I kept waiting for him to show a different, more likeable side but I’m starting to slowly lose hope. And I really don’t get why Sal still seems to be enamored with him in a way. Dean is kind of a loser.

  9. The only thing I have to say that hasn’t already been said is amen to Wallace’s assessment of MaryLou. She DID seem like the girl who could keep up with the boys in the beginning but she isn’t as strong as I thought she was. For a while, I thought she was with Dean in spite of his “madness,” but it appears as though she is drawn to him because of it.

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