On the Road Questions and Answers
by Jack Kerouac

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In Jack Kerouac's On the Road, what might be some good analytical questions to ask about chapters 9-11 of Part Three?

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A number of analytical questions might be asked about chapters 9-11 of Part Three of Jack Kerouac’s One the Road. Among such questions are the following:

  • How does Dean explain his love of cars, women, and travel?
  • How does Sal’s attitude toward Dean change as they drive toward Chicago?
  • What serious thoughts does Sal ponder during the trip toward Chicago?
  • How, once they arrive in New York, does Dean behave as Sal expected?
  • Discuss the kind of language Dean uses when describing bop musicians.
  • What are the attitudes of both Sal and Dean toward contemporary music?
  • How does Dean himself resemble various religious figures?
  • What is the general role of music in this section of the book?
  • How are Sal’s attitudes at the end of this section the same as his attitudes earlier?
  • How does Sal respond to the country girl he meets?
  • What are Dean’s attitudes about the prospect of visiting Chicago for the first time?
  • Discuss the significance of the following statement by Sal:

it was remarkable how Dean could go mad and then suddenly continue with his soul—which I think is wrapped up in a fast car, a coast to reach, and woman at the end of the road.

  • What do Dean’s memories, early in this section, reveal about Dean as a character and about his values?
  • Discuss the symbolic significance of Dean’s decision to race against another car.  What does this decision reveal about his personality?
  • During the race with the other car, what do we learn about some of the ways in which Sal differs from Dean?
  • How should we interpret Dean’s fearlessness?
  • Would you want to be a passenger in a car driven by Dean?  Why or why not?
  • What does Dean’s decision to pick up two hoboes reveal about his character?
  • What was the average speed at which the car was travelling between Denver and Chicago?
  • Discuss the potential irony of the fact that Dean and Sal spend time at the Young Men’s Christian Association in Chicago.
  • Which specific jazz musicians does Dean admire, and why might he have admired those particular musicians?
  • When George Shearing appears, Dean says, “God has arrived.”  Discuss the various ways in which this is a significant statement that is relevant to the themes and meaning of the book and to Kerouac’s characterization of Dean.
  • Besides an appreciation of jazz, what are some other personality traits shared by Dean and Sal?
  • Discuss the significance of Sal’s conversation with the country girl.  What does the conversation reveal about both of them?
  • Discuss the significance of Sal’s memories about his time in Boston.  What does his recollection reveal about his values?  How are his values relevant to the larger themes of the book?
  • What, if anything, does the man who gives Sal and Dean a ride to New York admire about them?
  • Discuss the significance of the behavior of Sal and Dean as soon as they arrive in New York.

[for possible answers to these questions, see link below dealing with these chapters]

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