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Literature Study GuidesOn The RoadPart 1 Chapters 6 7 Summary

On the Road | Study Guide

Jack Kerouac

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Course Hero. "On the Road Study Guide." September 23, 2016. Accessed June 3, 2023.


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On the Road | Part 1, Chapters 6–7 | Summary



Chapter 6

Sal immediately looks up Chad, hoping all his friends will be waiting to welcome him. He's surprised to learn that Chad has fallen out with Dean and Carlo. There has been a divide in the group—Chad, Tim, and Roland on one side, and Dean and Carlo on the other—although no one is discussing the split. Sal wonders if it has something to do with Dean's troubled upbringing, which was so different from that of the rest.

Chapter 7

Sal moves in with Roland Major, another of his academic friends, in an apartment owned by the parents of another friend, Tim Gray. Tim and Major spend most of their time with the Rawlins family who lives next door—Ray (Tim's childhood friend) and his two sisters (Babe and Betty, whom Tim and Major are dating). Although Sal enjoys their company, he feels left out of the close-knit circle and would rather be with Dean. Tim and Major have grown weary of Dean's excessive behavior, but Sal still feels drawn to him. He is ecstatic when Carlo phones one afternoon asking to meet. Carlo and Dean have spent the summer drunk, high on drugs, and attempting to "communicate with absolute honesty and absolute completeness." Whatever time Dean hasn't been with Carlo, he has split between the two women he's sleeping with: Marylou and a new girl, Camille. When the three friends reunite, they have a wild party fueled by drugs and alcohol, in which they flirt wildly with a variety of girls. They try to take their party back to Sal's apartment, but Major stops them.


When Sal finally reaches Denver he is disappointed: the West isn't what he had hoped for, and he is upset to learn that his friends have fractured into two groups. It becomes clear that Sal's interest is in Dean, who represents the freedom from consequence Sal has been chasing on this journey. His first question upon arriving is "Where is Dean?" This section also provides more background into Dean's character. His father was an alcoholic who provided an unstable upbringing for Dean, who has spent most of his life in and out of reform schools or jail. Dean is obviously poor and a "wannabe" intellectual. Although charismatic and exciting, he is unpredictable and offensive. Although all Sal's friends represent the counterculture movement that will eventually be known as the "Beat Generation," they have fractured into two groups: the more better-off circle that includes Tim, Roland, and Rawlins, and the wild, subversive group that includes Dean and Carlo Marx (based on the eccentric gay poet Allen Ginsberg).

When Sal reunites with Dean and Carlo, the culture clash becomes even clearer. Dean and Carlo are living drug-fueled lives filled with partying and sex. Through drugs, sex, and brutal honesty, Dean and Carl believe they live in a heightened reality. This sharply contrasts with their other friends, like Major Roland, who dedicates his time to subversive writing but remains generally uninterested in partaking in subversive behaviors.

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