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Literature Study GuidesOn The RoadPart 4 Chapter 5 Summary

On the Road | Study Guide

Jack Kerouac

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On the Road | Part 4, Chapter 5 | Summary



As soon as they cross the border, Sal, Dean, and Stan park the car, buy beer and cigarettes, and marvel at the culture. Eager to keep moving and exploring, they jump back in the car and drive quickly through various small villages and towns. The women, barefoot and dark-skinned, are particularly exciting. The relaxed atmosphere, smiling people, and seemingly peaceful existence gives Sal and Dean the feeling that Mexico is heaven on earth. They drive to the city of Gregoria, where they meet a young man named Victor, who promises to get them drugs and women. They drive back to Victor's house where his mother and brothers sell marijuana. They roll a massive "bomber" and after a couple of drags, everyone feels like best friends. Later, Victor takes them to a brothel, eager to show his new friends a good time. On the drive, Sal has visions comparing Dean to Franklin D. Roosevelt and God. He sees "streams of gold pouring through the sky" and loses consciousness in his "lower mind." On the way to the brothel, Victor stops to show off his six-month-old son, Perez. Sal and Dean believe it when they say Perez is the most beautiful baby they've ever seen.

When they arrive at the brothel they ask the bartender for "mambo music," and he puts on a pile of records, many by Perez Prado. The music is dizzying. Dean drinks with a beautiful 18-year-old Venezuelan girl, while Sal is hooked by an older, less attractive woman. Although enamored with a beautiful "little colored girl," Sal can't get himself free of the girl who clings to him. Sal and Dean sleep with their partners, and Sal's girl begs him for extra money in addition to her fee. Sal doesn't care and throws pesos at her. Later, the beautiful Venezuelan is so drunk the bartender won't give her any more drinks, so Sal buys drinks and slips them to her. Dean is so drunk he doesn't recognize Sal when they cross paths on the dance floor. They jump in and out of rooms with different women, having the time of their lives. Suddenly, Victor approaches with a sobering bar bill of $36. Stan doesn't care and wants to keep partying, but Sal and Dean agree it's time to quit. Victor then takes them to a bathhouse to shower before saying goodbye. Dean begs Victor to join them in New York, but Victor doesn't want to leave his family.


For Sal and Dean, who have prowled the country searching for "IT" and their next big adventure, Mexico is the Promised Land. Because they've never been anywhere like it, their old excitement for adventure returns, squelching whatever apprehensions Sal might have had about Dean's presence. The pair romanticize the culture. As they drive through the streets, they make sweeping generalizations about the people they see, calling passersby "pure," "straight and good." The pair feels an immediate connection to the people they see without even talking to them, as they rely on stereotypes and ideals. Everything seems perfect, almost holy, as they refuse to consider any social, racial, or international complications that might dampen their fun. This is most plainly seen when Sal falls "in love" with the 16-year-old prostitute in the brothel. Sal is too ashamed to proposition her because she's just a child, but he knows the girl is working to help her family survive. Because he won't sleep with her Sal is unable to better the girl's life. It never occurs to him to simply give the girl money to help make her life easier.

While stoned with Victor, Sal experiences more visions, this time seeing Franklin D. Roosevelt and God in Dean. These comparisons cast Dean once again in the role of American hero and spiritual adviser. Sal's exuberance is partly due to the drugs he's smoking and partly because Mexico appears to be the place of his dreams, the place where he can truly be free. Mexico welcomes the travelers' countercultural lifestyle, and the party eagerly participates in every debauchery. As usual, they don't think of the complications that arise from this lifestyle, such as the exploitation of child prostitutes. At the end of the trip, Victor declines Dean's offer to join him on the road. Victor, a quasi-drug dealer and pimp, is the first male character to reject the open road in favor of staying home and caring for his family.

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