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On The Road

– The Role Of Women Essay, Research Paper

On the Road, by Jack Kerouac, is an honest story of a friendship, and four trips across America. The narrator is Sal Paradise, an aspiring novelist who lives with his aunt in New Jersey. Sal s best friend is Dean Moriarty. Sal idolizes Dean for his laidback cowboy style, his ease with women, and his all around joy in living. Over the course of the book, Dean marries, divorces, makes love to, and impregnates numerous women. Sal is considerably less promiscuous, but he doesn t seem to hold women in any higher of a light than Dean does. To Sal and Dean, on their journey for a greater understanding of themselves, and life, women were mere roadside attractions.

The first female Sal encounters sexually is Terry, a poor, working Mexican woman. “I had bought my ticket and was waiting for the LA bus when all of a sudden I saw the cutest little Mexican girl in slacks come cutting across my sight. Her breasts stuck straight out and true; her little flanks looked delicious; her hair was long and lustrous black; and her eyes were great big blue things with timidities inside. O gruesome life, how I moaned and pleaded, and then I got mad and realized I was pleading with a dumb little Mexican wench and I told her so (p. 80) This quote makes clear Sal s intentions with this woman, and also the fact that he is somewhat racist. Then when Sal gets a job working in the fields with Terry, it s as if he views it all as a camping trip, or even an experiment, to possibly further himself spiritually.

There was a bed, a stove, and a cracked mirror hanging from a pole. It was delightful” (p. 96) Notice the way Sal makes light of their circumstances. He does not appear to even consider Terry s poor situation, and that she always has to live like this. Sal was just with her for the experience, and for sex.

Sal and his friends always seemed to be concerned with getting it . It was, of course, referring to sex. The men in this novel also often used

the slang make her , which mean to have sex with a girl. The slang, make her , implies that a girl is incomplete until she had a man. This is rather hypocritical of them. In all their rebelliousness, they still cling to the popular conformist notion that a woman cannot survive without a man

Women were a sidetrack for the men in this novel. Sal and Dean s goal was to be on the road, to explore their inner-selves, the world around them, gain more freedom, and basically question the meaning of life. Women were sex traps , which lured the guys away from the road, and this quest of theirs for deeper understanding.

The women these two crazy cats involved themselves with definitely had it rough. Although they weren t abused in the traditional sense, they were neglected, cheated on, and treated as if they were invisible. Does this make Sal & company particularly bad people? It does not seem their intentions were negative, more so they were just na ve, and caught up in their spiritual and emotional quest. Regardless, they should have exhibited more responsible behavior.




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