Study Guide

On the Road

by Jack Kerouac

On the Road Essay - Critical Essays

Sample Essay Outlines

Topic # 1
Discuss the autobiographical elements of On The Road. How does Kerouac change the facts of his own life and turn them into fiction?

Outline
I.Thesis Statement: On The Road closely mirrors many events in the author’s own life.

II. Kerouac’s life in the 1940s
A. Kerouac in New York City
1. Attends Columbia
2. Friends in New York
3. Life with his mother in Queens
4. Merchant Marines and Navy life
B. Kerouac’s friends
1. Neal Cassady
2. Allen Ginsberg
3. William Burroughs
4. John Clellon Holmes
5. Carolyn Cassady
6. Herbert Huncke
C. Kerouac on the road
1. Hitchhiking experiences
2. Denver
3. California
4. Mexico

III. On The Road: Fact and Fiction
A. Adventures of Sal Paradise
1. Travels compared to Kerouac’s
2. Relationship with Dean
B. Characters in novel: Who are they and how do they differ from real life?
1. Sal and Jack Kerouac
2. Dean and Neal Cassady
3. Carlo Marx and Allen Ginsberg
4. Old Bull Lee and William Burroughs
5. Camille and Carolyn Cassady
6. Tom Saybrook and John Clellon Holmes
7. Elmo Hassel and Herbert Huncke

IV. Kerouac’s “spontaneous prose”
A. Author’s stream of consciousness
B. Novel’s differences from standard autobiography and standard fiction...

(The entire section is 529 words.)