On the Road Topics for Further Study
by Jack Kerouac

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Topics for Further Study

(Novels for Students)

Kerouac sought to write as some of the great jazz musicians played. Listen to some of the great jazz musicians, such as Charlie Parker or Miles Davis. What, if anything, does this music share with On the Road? Was Kerouac successful in emulating his musical heroes?

Research other American literary movements, such as the Transcendentalists of the mid-nineteenth century and the Lost Generation of the 1920s, and write an essay comparing them to the Beat Generation.

Discuss the female characters in On the Road. Several critics have complained that Kerouac's work is misogynistic. Do you agree or disagree and why? Rewrite a scene in the book from the viewpoint of one of the female characters.

Discuss the religious allusions in the novel. Create a hypothetical religion centering on Dean Moriarty. What would be the major beliefs of such a religion? What kind of ceremonies would this religion practice?

Use a map of North America to plot out Sal's travels throughout the book. Use different colored markers as a key for each trip. See if you can locate a map of the United States from the late 1940s to determine what roads existed at this time and estimate the mileage. Discuss the creation of the interstate highway system during the Eisenhower administration. What effects did the system have on American culture?