On the Road Part One, Chapters 6-8: Summary and Analysis
by Jack Kerouac

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Part One, Chapters 6-8: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Mr. King: Chad King’s father

Roland Major: Sal’s roommate in Denver

Camille: one of Dean Moriarty’s girlfriends

Ray Rawlins: another friend of Sal’s in Denver

Rita Bettencourt: a waitress and friend of Dean’s

Mary Bettencourt: Rita’s sister

Tim Gray: a friend of Sal’s in Denver

Sal immediately looks up his friend Chad King who is working at a museum, and studying anthropology and American Indians. Sal learns that Chad is no longer friends with Dean Moriarty or Carlo Marx. A rift has developed between these two and Sal’s other friends. Sal is curious to see how things will develop between the two factions. Sal then describes Dean’s childhood. His mother died when Dean was very young, and his father was an alcoholic. Dean led a youthful life of crime and was allowed to run wild in the streets of Denver. Dean was brought up on Larimer Street, the Bowery of Denver, and would beg for money and give it to his father to buy wine. When he was older, Sal says Dean “set a record for stealing cars” and ended up in the reformatory.

Sal stays in Chad’s family’s house for a few nights. Chad’s father is an interesting, elderly man who grew up on the North Dakota plains, living a classic Western lifestyle. He worked as a school teacher, businessman, and inventor. Sal discovers one of Mr. King’s inventions: a crude air conditioner that freezes Sal when he sleeps. Sal enjoys visiting Chad, but he’s anxious to see Dean.

Sal moves into an apartment owned by his friend Tim Gray’s parents. Roland Major, another friend, is already living there. Sal describes it as a “swank apartment”, and he and Roland each have their own bedroom. Like Sal, Roland wants to be a writer, but he has great disdain for those he calls “artsy types.” He loves to discuss art and literature in a grand, pretentious manner. Sal finds him amusing.

Sal finally connects with Carlo Marx, who is working nights in a department store. Carlo tells Sal that Dean Moriarty is living in Denver and is as wild as ever. Dean spends his time hustling back and forth between the two women he is currently involved with, Camille and Marylou. His busy social life keeps him on a very tight schedule. Carlo and Dean have continued their close friendship, and Carlo notes that they are “embarked on a tremendous season together.” They take benzedrine and try to communicate with absolute honesty while sitting on a bed, cross legged, facing each other. However, Dean also enjoys going to see midget auto racing.

Sal visits another friend, Ray Rawlins, and they hit the bars on Colfax Avenue together. Sal realizes, regretfully, that he is the only one of their group who doesn’t have a girlfriend.

Sal meets Carlo, and together they go to a rooming house to visit Dean and Camille. Dean promises Camille he’ll be back to see her in exactly two hours, then leaves with Sal and Carlo. As they walk through the Denver streets, Dean tells Sal he’ll help him get a job at the Carmargo markets. They visit Rita and Mary Bettencourt, two sisters who work as waitresses, then head for Sal’s apartment. The group arrives at the apartment, but Roland Major refuses to let them in. They all go back downtown to their favorite hangouts and Sal spends all his money. He walks back home to his apartment and falls into a deep sleep.

In Chapter Eight, Sal tells us that he has heard from his hitchhiking buddy, Eddie, who is in Denver, too. Eddie is looking for a job and Sal arranges to meet him. Then Dean arrives at Sal’s apartment and Roland treats him with “extreme deference,” telling Sal that Dean is a “moron and a fool.” Eddie arrives and they go to the Carmargo markets where Sal and Eddie both get jobs. Eddie is enthusiastic, but Sal can’t imagine actually showing up for work when there are so many other things to do.

(The entire section is 1,031 words.)