By Charles Louis Dominguez ’14
“On the Road” – by Jack Kerouac
9 out of 10
Jack Kerouac’s seminal novel “On the Road” seeps with adventure.
Wildly credited as the inventor of the term “beat generation,” Kerouac’s work is of historical literary significance in addition to just being good writing.
“On the Road” documents the author’s nomadic youth, as he, along with other friends and famous writers, go on wild adventures throughout the country in an effort to discover meaning and identity.
The characters who readers meet throughout the book are often thinly veiled versions and caricatures of Kerouac’s real-life friends.
We follow the endeavors of Sal Paradise, a persona crafted and taken up by Kerouac, as he hitchhikes across America, journeying with his pack of beatniks.
Perhaps most important among this group is Dean Moriarty, Kerouac’s romanticized depiction of his close friend and partner in crime Neal Cassady.
The vivid, prose-like language helps to fully flesh out these characters and makes the whole book seem even more worthwhile and beautiful.
Overall, the language is one of the most effective aspects of the novel.
While some might find the writing style to be rambling and without consistency or goal, it’s this language that Kerouac seems to invent that helps to fully embody the characters’ plight: running around the country without any particular goal.
The plot of the story takes a variety of turns.
With each place Sal Paradise adventures to come new experiences that seem to drive the story onward.
These all lead up to a surprising conclusion, which proves satisfying.
While it is also a positive, the only downside to the book is its lack of direction.
The aimlessness with which Kerouac writes is great for the topic, but there are instances where the lack of cohesiveness muddles the meaning.
Still, the historical significance of “On the Road” is undeniable.
This novel has dazzled and baffled readers since its initial release in 1957 and that it retains its recognition and is still widely read after 57 years, is just a visible sign of its literary importance.
As a whole, it’s a really rewarding and worthwhile experience and certainly worth the investment of time.