Part Four, Chapters 4-6: Summary and Analysis
Victor: a young Mexican who lives in Gregoria
Venezuela: a Mexican girl who works as a prostitute in Gregoria
Three miles outside of Denver, Stan is bitten on the arm by a mysterious bug. His arm swells considerably, and Sal regards this as an ominous sign. They drive out of Colorado, through New Mexico, and into Texas. Dean urges them all to tell their life stories. Stan goes first, describing his European travels as they continue south through hot, dusty Texas.
In San Antonio, while Stan goes to a hospital to have his infected arm treated, Sal and Dean roam around the Mexican part of town. They stop in a pool hall to watch a young, crippled Mexican play pool. After a few hours, they pick up Stan and move on, traveling to seedy Laredo where they finally cross into Mexico in the early morning.
Once they cross the border, Sal, Dean, and Stan change most of their dollars into pesos. Sal and Dean are thrilled to be in a foreign country, and they’re delighted with the strange Mexican desert landscape. They keep heading south, driving through Sabinas Hidalgo, a crowded, peaceful little town with muddy streets and sleepy burros. Dean enjoys watching everyone in town going about their business. They continue on, passing through Monterrey, an industrial city built on a high plateau in the mountains, and head towards Mexico City.
Outside Monterrey the road takes them through overgrown swamps where Mexican men hack at vines, using long machetes. Then, while Dean and Stan sleep, Sal drives, thinking about Mexico’s native population and its connection to the “Fellahin Indians of the world”—dignified, proud, hard-working people—completely different from the popular stereotype of the silly, lazy Mexican.
In Gregoria, a young man named Victor offers to provide them with women and marijuana. Dean quickly agrees. Victor takes them to his family’s house where his mother grows marijuana. Victor rolls an enormous cigar-sized joint and passes it around. Victor’s brothers meet Sal, Dean, and Stan, and they all hang around, smoking, and studying each other with great interest. Then they head back to town with Victor, enjoying the bumpy ride. They visit Victor’s house and meet his baby boy, Perez.
Next, Victor takes them to the local brothel. They all dance and drink with the women there, moving to the infectious beat of the blasting mambo music. Half the town shows up to watch the Americans dance and drink, peering at them through the brothel windows. Sal tells us that the mambo beat is the same as the conga beat from the Congo. He calls it a true “world beat.”
Sal, Dean, and Stan pay to have sex with a few of the women who work at the brothel. Sal notes that some of the women working there are only 15 or 16 years old. Sal is particularly attracted to a young, dark-skinned girl he names “Venezuela,” but she is so young and pathetic, he can’t bring himself to have sex with her, even though he knows she needs the money. He calls her the “queen” and describes her “unimpeachable dignity.” Sal knows that her family wants her to work there because they are so poor.
After several hours of dancing, drinking, and sex, Victor tells Sal they owe the brothel thirty-six American dollars. They pay their bill and decide to move on. Stan is eager to stay for the evening and Sal and Dean have to drag him outside. Victor takes them to a public bath house to clean up before they leave. They bid farewell to Victor who is sorry...
(The entire section is 907 words.)