East vs. West in "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac

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Throughout the novel On the Road, there is a constant battle between the East and West. Dean, from the West, has very different morals than Sal, from the East. Sal seems to have his life all figured out when he stays with his Aunt in New York. He's writing his novel and has a girlfriend that he has actually considered marrying in the future. Unfortunately, whenever Dean shows up Sal acts like a totally different person. He drinks and he parties all because he can't find a balance of what is right for him. Although Sal tries to maintain a normal lifestyle in the East, he is eventually drawn back to the West just to be disappointed once more. In the end, Kerouac demonstrates that a more moral and responsible lifestyle is best.

The West is a crazy place where family isn’t that important, and marriage isn’t considered as sacred as it should be. For example, Dean was having relations with another woman while still being married to Marylou. Carlo said “[he] came off of work a half-hour ago. In that time Dean [was] balling Marylou at the hotel and…at one sharp he rushes from Marylou to Camille” (42). Dean constantly switching from one woman to another clarifies that he doesn’t understand the concept of a healthy relationship. He doesn’t consider marriage and relationships are as important as the East does, which causes him to undermine women. Even when he has his life with Camille ahead of him in San Francisco, he still can’t control himself. While walking down the street, an old ’49 Hudson caught his eye. After emptying his bank roll, he takes off on a long road trip to visit Sal; taking Marylou and Ed with him (110). Dean doesn’t think that a sacred commitment like marriage is as important as other people believe. This shows that he can’t commit to one woman, even though he claims that he loves Camille at one time and Marylou at another. What also caught my attention was how similar Dean is to his father. In the beginning of the novel, Dean had said that his father...
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