Do you think that Sal Paradise was successful in finding spiritual and emotional healing and salvation by the end of the book?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would probably qualify the statement a bit.  I think that Dean has helped Sal understand more about himself, his own sense of reality, and his nation.  Yet, I think that Sal is not entering "salvation."  The idea of "salvation" implies that someone or something is giving Sal absolution.  If there is one thing that he has learned from his experiences with Dean, it would be to live in the particular moment, to revel in the journey and to experience that which is within it.  There is little from this experience that talks about external salvation or the idea that one needs affirmation from something outside of oneself.  I think that Sal has gained understanding into his own emotional sensibilities, and this has helped him gain a deeper and more profound understanding of reality.  One thing that Sal has gained in terms of spiritual and emotional healing is the grasp of others' suffering.  He alludes to this in the end in describing America, the old man, Dean's father, that was never found, and Dean, himself.  The image of Dean wandering through New York streets in the rain is something that haunts Sal.  In this, I think that he has gained a greater appreciation for the suffering that humans endure.  He does not possess resentment for Dean leaving him, but rather empathy and understanding towards him, implying a level of spiritual and emotional healing has been attained.