Earlier in the semester, I wrote a blog about a trip I took to Greece with my family and the lesson I learned is that you have to step out of your comfort zone to gain any valuable experience. Throw out the guidebooks and preconceptions and just go – this will be my new motto for future trips. I was reminded of my lesson while reading Jack Kerouac’s "On the Road" in the theme of rebellion and in connection to rebellion, what it means to be human.
Sal and the band of misfits he runs around with all want to shed the idea of what is normal, or what dream society believes they should be chasing. Sal, Dean, Chad, Carlo, and Old Bull distance themselves from the ordinary American Dream and choose to follow their own paths and dreams all over the country. We are able to experience Sal’s experience hitchhiking across America and meet the crazy travelers he encounters along the way who have “nowhere to go but everywhere” (26). Sal was a great viewpoint for me to experience this through because he was so naïve and good-natured so everything that was new to me was also new to him. You see him befriend the most unlikely characters, get drunk, spend all his money on other people, and try to leave behind some of his past.
One of the most striking comments Sal makes is, “I was halfway across America, at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my Future” (15) and this was the reason he suddenly woke up one morning during his travels not knowing who he was or what he was doing. I believe that because Sal was so busy following Dean and Chad to Denver, to get to their destination because that’s where the whole gang was having the time of their lives, he lost sight for a little while of why he wanted to travel across America in the first place. This shows human nature – to want to be a part of something bigger and also the realization of doing something your own way. You can rebel all you want but if you follow someone else’s rebellious dream, you’ll quickly loose sight of what you really want.
In Greece, it was my family’s instinct to follow the beaten path the guidebooks laid out but figuring out the best way for US to see Greece was so much more rewarding and Sal ends up making friends and gaining his own experience when he stops paying complete attention to the straight path to Denver.