Sal, once on there way out of NY in 1948, was deciphering a dream he had with Carlo Marx. In retrospect he figured out it was death that was chasing him, and when Dean heard, “he instantly recognized it as the mere simple longing for pure death; and because we’re all of us never in life again, he, rightly, would have nothing to do with it, and I agreed with him then” (124).
Sal Paradise, Kerouac’s version of himself in the book, is a downer but I think his purpose is to show the contrast between the natural cynicism found in America, “I want to marry a girl,’ I told them, ‘so I can rest my soul with her till we both get old. This can’t go on all the time – all this franticness and jumping around. We’ve got to go someplace, find something,’” and someone like Dean:
“’Ah now, man,’ said Dean, ‘I’ve been digging you for years about the home
and marriage and all those fine wonderful things about your soul’” (117)
The contrast is made throughout the book. While in Denver listening all night to Dean and Carlo Marx talk with utmost honesty about all things in life to each other, they briefly discuss how Sal always likes to sleep. A few pages prior, Dean asserted in one of his frantic rants that he had no time for sleep, there was too much life to experience and too much to accomplish in the day to have time for sleep. Dean has a unique will to experience life in ways that enraptures those around him. Sal’s soul is just of a different consistency, he wants to “find something” in all the “franticness and jumping around”; for Dean, the senselessness of the franticness is the appeal. It’s a free-spirited soul to envy and Sal is clearly on a sometimes nomadic but very personal journey inspired by him. He even admits as much – that he is a writer and likes to follow men like Dean. The strong amorous, many times sexual tones that underlie nearly every main character’s affection for Dean substantiates this.
New Years 1948, while they are at a party in the scholar Rollo Greb’s house, exemplifies this:
“…he could hardly get a word out, he was so excited with life. Dean stood before him with head bowed, repeating over an dover again, ‘yes…yes…yes.’ He took me inot a corner. ‘That Rollo Greb is the greatest, most wonderful of all. That’s what I was trying to tell you – that’s what I want to be. I want to be like him. He’s never hung-up, he goes every direction, he lets it all out, he knows time, he has nothing ot do but rock back and forth. Man, he’s the end! You see, if you go like him all the time you’ll finally get it…”
Conclusively, I think Keroauc is showing the difference between those whose souls are manifest to live mad and wild, however innately lonely it will be, and the majority of America, like Sal, who crave this freedom but see it as a phase or something to experience, to “take one more magnificent trip to the West Coast and get back in time for the spring semester in school” (129).