On the Road Questions and Answers
by Jack Kerouac

Start Your Free Trial

What is the exposition in On the Road?

Expert Answers info

accessteacher eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write13,728 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

The exposition of any plot is the initial stage of the plot diagram where the main characters are introduced and the kind of conflict that they face is also presented. The beginning of this book introduces us therefore to the narrator, Sal Paradise, whotakes us back to 1947 when he was in New York City and Dean Moriarty arrived. Dean has just married and also just left reform school and arrived in New York from Denver. Dean is an intellectual and an ideas man and he and Sal immediately hit it off. Dean and his wife fight and Dean moves in with Sal. They both talk about writing in jargon and words that neither of them understand but Dean declares he wants to be a writer and they plan to go West. During a trip to the city, Dean meets Carlo Marx, a young poet, and Dean and Carlo Marx talk non-stop about writing. Dean leaves in Spring to go back to Denver, and Sal promises to follow him soon as he is interested in him from a writing point of view and also feels that Dean is like a long-lost brother.

The two characters are thus introduced, and we can see that the central conflict that will face them is an internal and external conflict, in that they struggle internally to define themselves and who they will be, but also this is a struggle that is against society in who they are. They seem to seek to define themselves against the values of principals of society, as Dean's background shows.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial