On the Road Sample Essay Outlines
by Jack Kerouac

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Sample Essay Outlines

Topic # 1
Discuss the autobiographical elements of On The Road. How does Kerouac change the facts of his own life and turn them into fiction?

I.Thesis Statement: On The Road closely mirrors many events in the author’s own life.

II. Kerouac’s life in the 1940s
A. Kerouac in New York City
1. Attends Columbia
2. Friends in New York
3. Life with his mother in Queens
4. Merchant Marines and Navy life
B. Kerouac’s friends
1. Neal Cassady
2. Allen Ginsberg
3. William Burroughs
4. John Clellon Holmes
5. Carolyn Cassady
6. Herbert Huncke
C. Kerouac on the road
1. Hitchhiking experiences
2. Denver
3. California
4. Mexico

III. On The Road: Fact and Fiction
A. Adventures of Sal Paradise
1. Travels compared to Kerouac’s
2. Relationship with Dean
B. Characters in novel: Who are they and how do they differ from real life?
1. Sal and Jack Kerouac
2. Dean and Neal Cassady
3. Carlo Marx and Allen Ginsberg
4. Old Bull Lee and William Burroughs
5. Camille and Carolyn Cassady
6. Tom Saybrook and John Clellon Holmes
7. Elmo Hassel and Herbert Huncke

IV. Kerouac’s “spontaneous prose”
A. Author’s stream of consciousness
B. Novel’s differences from standard autobiography and standard fiction

Topic #2
Discuss possible reasons behind Sal and Dean’s compulsive traveling. Are they merely wandering without purpose? What do they learn from their experiences?

I. Thesis Statement: Some critics have complained that Sal and Dean lead an aimless, self-indulgent existence. However, their many external travels eventually lead to self-reflective inner journeys.

II. The road experience
A. Hitchhiking, alone, as inner journey
1. Time for self-reflection
2. Hunger, cold, and self-deprivation
3. Individual resourcefulness
B. Awareness of new experience
1. Exploration of internal and external world
C. Sal and Dean on the road
1. Driving and travel discussions
2. Meeting new people
3. Adventures in cities
D. Experience in jazz clubs
1. Musicians and “It”
2. Rhythm and “It”

III. The Mexican jungle
A. All limits transcended; physical excess leading to inner transformation
B. Sleeping on the road; becoming one with the environment
C. Biblical scenes in the jungle
D. Spirituality and religious themes

Topic # 3
Illustrate Kerouac’s use of...

(The entire section is 529 words.)