On the Road Part Four, Chapters 1-3: Summary and Analysis
by Jack Kerouac

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Part Four, Chapters 1-3: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Henry Glass: a young man just released from prison

Stan Shephard: a friend of Tim Gray’s who lives in Denver

Charity: Babe Rawlins’s aunt

Stan’s grandfather: a sad old man who doesn’t want Stan to leave with Sal and Dean

With the arrival of spring, Sal is ready to leave New York again. Dean is working as a parking lot attendant in Manhattan and living with Inez in the east eighties in a cold-water flat. Inez and Camille have been having long talks on the telephone about Dean and have become friendly. Dean sends Camille money every month for child-support.

Late one night Sal and Dean discuss their lives and futures. Dean thinks it doesn’t matter if they both end up as bums; they’re living their lives the best they can, they’re not interfering with anyone, and they are always ready to move on at a moment’s notice. Dean says he’s ready to roll with whatever happens. “I’ve decided to leave everything out of my hands,” he says. However, Dean has learned that his father is in jail in Seattle, and he considers moving his father to New York once he is released.

Before Sal leaves, Dean visits him at his aunt’s house in Long Island. They watch a few baseball games on TV, then go out to a school yard and play a frantic game of basketball with some local kids. They return to the house and Sal’s aunt cooks them a big supper. She tells Dean he should try to stay married this time; he’s responsible for his four children and he should take care of them.

Sal and Dean say goodbye at sunset, on a bridge overlooking a highway. Dean shows Sal a photo of Camille and their baby. They wonder what their children will think of them in the future. Then Dean walks away, heading back to Manhattan. Sal realizes that “I had an awful long way to go, too.”

Sal leaves New York by bus, traveling south, then out west again. He meets Henry Glass, a young man who was just released from the Terre Haute, Indiana federal penitentiary. Henry hates the prison suit he’s wearing. He tells Sal he has been in and out of prison since the age of thirteen. This time he spent a long time in solitary, reading a tiny Bible. Henry reminds Sal of Dean, except, he thinks, Henry has “no native strange saintliness to save him from iron fate.”

Sal shows Henry around once they get to Denver. They meet Tim Gray and his friend Stan Shephard in a bar. Stan has recently returned from France. They all spend the night drinking, going from bar to bar. By the end of the evening, Sal and Stan decide to go to Mexico together.

Sal stays in Denver for a week, enjoying himself and visiting friends. Sal moves happily from one experience to the next. He tells us, “The world opened up before me because I had no dreams.” Then, as Sal is getting ready to leave for Mexico, he receives word that Dean has bought a car and is driving out west to meet Sal in Denver. Sal tells us, “I knew Dean had gone mad again.”

Sal waits for Dean to arrive at Babe Rawlins’ house in Denver. Babe’s parents are away. Her 75 year-old aunt, Charity, is acting as the chaperone. Dean pulls up in an old jalopy and immediately announces his detailed itinerary to Sal. He tells Sal that he plans to get an official divorce from Camille while in Mexico. Dean rushes off to keep his various appointments while Sal and Babe make plans for the evening.

That night, at a party, Dean holds court at Ed Dunkel’s house, entertaining twelve of their friends, and talking a mile a minute. The party moves over to the Windsor Hotel, where Sal used to live with his father. Everyone gets roaring drunk at the bar, then they move on to another party, held somewhere in a local castle. Dean and Stan hit it off right away. They end up driving all over town with Sal in Dean’s jalopy.

In the morning, Sal, Dean, and Stan eagerly look forward to their trip. Dean says, “Man, this will finally take us to IT!” Sal accompanies Stan to his house to say goodbye to Stan’s grandfather. The old man...

(The entire section is 1,163 words.)