There are entire paragraphs listing the names of Sal Paradise's friends in On the Road. The nature of friendship is an integral theme of the novel. Sal, being a goodnatured person, has a diverse collection of friends. Some are artistic types, such as the bizarre poet Carlo Marx. Others, like Old Bull Lee, are wildly eccentric. Surprisingly enough, Sal even has some ordinary, everyday friends, like Chad King. Sal also has many brief yet memorable friendships on the road. Of course, the most important friendship in the novel is between Sal and Dean Moriarty.
The powerful bond between Sal and Dean drives the story. Soon after Dean arrives in New York City, Sal becomes addicted to Dean's effervescent personality. Sal recognizes that Dean is manipulating him, but Dean's relentless energy captivates him:
As we rode in the bus in the weird phosphorescent void of the Lincoln Tunnel we leaned on each other with fingers waving and talked excitedly, and I was beginning to get the bug like Dean. He was simply a youth tremendously excited with life, and though he was a con man, he was only conning because he wanted so much to live and to get involved with people who would otherwise pay no attention to him. He was conning me and I knew it (for room and board and "how-to-write," etc.), and he knew I knew (this has been the basis of our relationship), but I didn't care and we got along fine—no pestering, no...
(The entire section is 1177 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of On the Road Themes. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!