Best Lines From Kerouac’s On The Road

On The Road is a 1957 novel by Jack Kerouac, based on his adventures across the States with his friend Neal Cassady. Kerouac typed it on a scroll — sheets of paper that he had taped together so that he could let out a spontaneous flow of his writing, not having to change the papers every now and then on his typewriter. Only the names were altered — Kerouac is Sal Paradise. Cassady is Dean Moriarty.

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I told Dean, ‘Hell, man, I know very well you didn’t come to me only to want to become a writer, and after all what do I really know about it except you’ve got to stick to it with the energy of a benny addict’.


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The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved.


My aunt once said the world would never find peace until men fell at their women’s feet and asked for forgiveness…The truth of the matter is we don’t understand our women; we blame on them and it’s our fault.


Ah, but we know time. Everything takes care of itself.


Oh, the sadness of the lights that night! The young pitcher looked just like Dean. A pretty blonde in the seats looked just like Marylou. It was the Denver Night; all I did was die.

Down in Denver , down in Denver

All I did was die.


‘Oh man! man! man!’ moaned Dean. ‘Sal,think of it, we’ll dig Denver together and see what everybody’s doing although that matters little to us, the point being that we know what IT  is [a purpose larger than ourselves] and we know TIME and we know that everything is really FINE.’


Now you just dig them in front. They have worries, they’re counting the miles, they’re thinking about where to sleep tonight, how much money for gas, the weather, how they’ll get there — and all the time they’ll get there anyway, you see.


But they need to worry and betray time with urgencies false and otherwise, purely anxious and whiny, their souls really won’t be at peace unless they can latch on to an established and proven worry and having once found it they assume facial expressions to go and fit with it, which is, you see, unhappiness, and all the time it all flies by them and they know it and that too worries them no end.


Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.


‘Someday you and me’ll be coming down an alley together at sundown and looking in the cans to see.’

‘You mean we’ll end up old bums?’

‘Why not,man? Of course we will if we want to, and all that. There’s no harm ending that way. You spend a whole life of non-interference with the wishes of others, including politicians and the rich, and nobody bothers you and you cut along and make it your own way.’ I agreed with him. He was reaching his Tao decisions in the simplest direct way. ‘What’s your road, man? — holyboy road, madman road, rainbow road, guppy road, any road. It’s an anywhere road for anybody anyhow.’


Dean took out other pictures. I realized these were all the snapshots which our children would look at someday with wonder, thinking their parents had lived smooth, well-ordered lives, stabilized-within-the-photo lives and got up in the morning to walk proudly on the sidewalks of life, never dreaming the raggedy madness and riot of our actual lives, our actual night, the hell of it, the senseless nightmare road. All of it inside endless and beginningless emptiness. Pitiful forms of ignorance.


I was having a wonderful time and the whole world opened up before me because I had no dreams.


And nobody, nobody knows what’s going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of the Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty.

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