'On the Road' - Quotes from Jack Kerouac's Autobiographical Novel

Jack Kerouac's Autobiographical Novel

On the Road
On the Road. Penguin
On the Road is an autobiographical novel by Jack Kerouac, with a stream of consciousness style. The work is associated with the Beat Generation. Here are a few quotes from On the Road.
  • "I was beginning to get the bug like Dean. He was simply a youth tremendously excited with life, and though he was a con-man, he was only conning because he wanted so much to live and to get involved with people who would otherwise pay no attention to him."
    - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Ch. 1

  • "They danced down the streets like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn..."
    - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 1, Ch. 1

  • "Besides, all my New York friends were in the negative, nightmare position of putting down society and giving their tired bookish or political or psychoanalytical reasons, but Dean just raced in society, eager for bread and love.
    - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 1, Ch. 1

  • "Somewhere along the line I knew there'd be girls, visions, everything; somewhere along the line the pearl would be handed to me.
    - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 1, Ch. 1

  • "And as I sat there listening to that sound of the night which bop has come to represent for all of us, I thought of my friends from one end of the country to the other and how they were really all in the same vast backyard doing something so frantic and rushing-about.
    - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 1, Ch. 3

  • "I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn't know who I was — I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I'd never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn't know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds."
    - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 1, Ch. 3

  • "The air was soft, the stars so fine, the promise of every cobbled alley so great, that I thought I was in a dream."
    - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 1, Ch. 7

  • "They were like the man with the dungeon stone and gloom, rising from the underground, the sordid hipsters of America, a new beat generation that I was slowly joining."
    - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 1, Ch. 9

  • "We fumed and screamed in our mountain nook, mad drunken Americans in the mighty land. We were on the roof of America and all we could do was yell, I guess--across the night..."
    - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 1, Ch. 9

  • "Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together; sophistication demands that they submit to sex immediately without proper preliminary talk. Not courting talk--eal straight talk about souls, for life is holy and every moment is precious."
    - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 1, Ch. 10

  • "A pain stabbed my heart, as it did every time I saw a girl I loved who was going the opposite direction in this too-big world."
    - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 1, Ch. 12

  • "LA is the loneliest and most brutal of American cities; New York gets god-awful cold in the winter but there's a feeling of wacky comradeship somewhere in some streets."
    - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 1, Ch. 13

  • "The stars bent over the little roof; smoke poked from the stovepipe chimney. I smelled mashed beans and chili. The old man growled... A California home; I hid in the grapevines, digging it all. I felt like a million dollars; I was adventuring in the crazy American night."
    - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 1, Ch. 13

  • "We turned at a dozen paces, for love is a duel, and looked at each other for the last time."
    - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 1, Ch. 13

  • "Isn't it true that you start your life a sweet child, believing in everything under your father's roof? Then comes the day of the Laodiceans, when you know you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, and with the visage of a gruesome, grieving ghost you go shuddering through nightmare life."
    - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 1, Ch. 13

    • "Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?"
      - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 2, Ch. 3

    • "The one thing that we yearn for in our living days, that makes us sigh and groan and undergo sweet nauseas of all kinds, is the remembrance of some lost bliss that was probably experienced in the womb and can only be reproduced (though we hate to admit it) in death."
      - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 2, Ch. 4

    • "I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till I drop. This is the night, what it does to you. I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion."
      - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 2, Ch. 4

    • "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 to 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."
      - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 2, Ch. 4

    • "Life is life, and kind is kind."
      - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 2, Ch. 5

    • "We were all delighted, we all realized we were leaving confusion and nonsense behind and performing our one noble function of the time, move."
      - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 2, Ch. 6

    • "Why think about that when all the golden land's ahead of you and all kinds of unforeseen events wait lurking to surprise you and make you glad you're alive to see?"
      - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 2, Ch. 6

    • "What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? — it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-by. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies."
      - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 2, Ch. 8

    • "It seemed like a matter of minutes when we began rolling in the foothills before Oakland and suddenly reached a height and saw stretched out ahead of us the fabulous white city of San Francisco on her eleven mystic hills with the blue Pacific and its advancing wall of potato-patch fog beyond, and smoke and goldenness of the late afternoon of time."
      - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 2, Ch. 9

    • "And for just a moment I had reached the point of ecstasy that I always wanted to reach, which was the complete step across chronological time into timeless shadows, and wonderment in the bleakness of the mortal realm, and the sensation of death kicking at my heels to move on, with a phantom dogging its own heels..."
      - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 2, Ch. 10

    • "I realized that I had died and been reborn numberless times but just didn't remember because the transitions from life to death and back are so ghostly easy, a magical action for naught, like falling asleep and waking up again a million times, the utter casualness and deep ignorance of it."
      - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 2, Ch. 10

    • "At lilac evening I walked with every muscle aching among the lights of 27th and Welton in the Denver colored section, wishing I were a Negro, feeling that the best the white world had offered was not enough ecstasy for me, not enough life, joy, kicks, darkness, music, not enough night."
      - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 3, Ch. 1

    • "Then a complete silence fell over everybody; where once Dean would have talked his way out, he now fell silent himself, but standing in front of everybody, ragged and broken and idiotic, right under the lightbulbs, his bony mad face covered with sweat and throbbing veins..."
      - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 3, Ch. 1

    • "Holy flowers floating in the air, were all these tired faces in the dawn of Jazz America."
      - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 3, Ch. 4

    • "Our final excited joy in talking and living to the blank tranced end of all innumerable riotous angelic particulars that had been lurking in our souls all our lives."
      - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 3, Ch. 5

    • "They have worries, they're counting the miles, they're thinking about where to sleep tonight, how much money for gas, the weather, how they'll get there--and all the time they'll get there anyway, you see."
      - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 3, Ch. 5

    • "Offer them what they secretly want and they of course immediately become panic-stricken."
      - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 3, Ch. 5

    • "Our battered suitcases were were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life."
      - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 3, Ch. 5

    • "You don't die enough to cry."
      - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 3, Ch. 5

    • "Once there was Louis Armstrong blowing his beautiful top in the muds of New Orleans; before him the mad musicians who had paraded on official days and broke up their Sousa marches into ragtime. Then there was swing, and Roy Eldridge, vigorous and virile, blasting the horn for everything it had in waves of power and logic and subtlety - leaning into it with glittering eyes and a lovely smile and sending it out broadcast to rock the jazz world."
      - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 3, Ch. 10

    • "Here were the children of the American bop night."
      - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 3, Ch. 10

    • "Every now and then a clear harmonic cry gave new suggestions of a tune that would someday be the only tune in the world and would raise men's souls to joy."
      - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 3, Ch. 10

    • "Her great dark eyes surveyed me with emptiness and a kind of chagrin that reached back generations and generations in her blood from not having done what was crying to be done--whatever it was, and everybody knows what it was."
      - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 3, Ch. 11

    • "What difference does it make after all?--anonymity in the world of men is better than fame in heaven, for what's heaven? what's earth? All in the mind."
      - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 3, Ch. 11

    • "What's your road, man?--holyboy road, madman road, rainbow road, guppy road, any road. It's an anywhere road for anybody anyhow."
      - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 4, Ch. 1

    • Here was a young kid like Dean had been; his blood boiled too much for him to bear; his nose opened up; no native strange saintliness to save him from the iron fate."
      - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 4, Ch. 2

    • "We were already almost out of America and yet definitely in it and in the middle of where it's maddest. Hotrods blew by. San Antonio, ah-haa!"
      - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 4, Ch. 4

    • "Behind us lay the whole of America and everything Dean and I had previously known about life, and life on the road. We had finally found the magic land at the end of the road and we never dreamed the extent of the magic."
      - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 4, Ch. 5

    • "In myriad pricklings of heavenly radiation I had to struggle to see Dean's figure, and he looked like God."
      - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 4, Ch. 5

    • "I was standing on the hot road underneath an arc-lamp with the summer moths smashing into it when I heard the sound of footsteps from the darkness beyond, and lo, a tall old man with flowing white hair came clomping by with a pack on his back, and when he saw me as he passed, he said, "Go moan for man," and clomped on back to his dark. Did this mean that I should at last go on my pilgrimmage on foot on the dark roads around America?"
      - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 5

    • "So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, and all the people dreaming in the immensity of it... and tonight the stars'll be out, and don't you know that God is Pooh Bear?"
      - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 5

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      Lombardi, Esther. "'On the Road' - Quotes from Jack Kerouac's Autobiographical Novel." ThoughtCo, Feb. 28, 2017, thoughtco.com/quotes-from-jack-kerouacs-autobiographical-novel-740970. Lombardi, Esther. (2017, February 28). 'On the Road' - Quotes from Jack Kerouac's Autobiographical Novel. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/quotes-from-jack-kerouacs-autobiographical-novel-740970 Lombardi, Esther. "'On the Road' - Quotes from Jack Kerouac's Autobiographical Novel." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/quotes-from-jack-kerouacs-autobiographical-novel-740970 (accessed October 17, 2017).