narrator and one of the main characters of the novel; lives originally with his aunt in New York; leaves on four different trips across the country with Dean Moriarty; the fictional alter ego of Jack Kerouac.
main character; lives in San Francisco, but travels constantly back and forth to New York; a wild, mad character whose energy and craziness affect others, especially Sal; with Sal, drinks large amounts of alcohol, does a lot of drugs, and sleeps with a lot of different women, fathering four children by two different women; the fictional alter ego of Kerouac's friend Neil Cassady.
eccentric poet in New York; becomes best friends with Dean and Sal; the fictional alter ego of the poet Allen Ginsburg.
Old Bull Lee
writer and drug addict in New Orleans; has traveled the world; mentor to Dean and Sal; the fictional alter ego of William Burroughs.
Dean's first wife and brief love interest of Sal.
close friend of Sal and Dean; lives mostly in Denver and San Francisco; marries Galatea so that she will pay for his cross-country trip with Dean, then leaves her in a Denver motel.
wife of Ed; often left by him in difficult situations, but stays with him through the novel; the only woman not afraid of Dean--she gives him a piece of her mind.
friend of Sal's from prep school; Frenchman who lives in a shack in San Francisco; helps Sal get a job as a security guard; gambler and thief, but also often kind-hearted and settled in his life.
Remi Bondoeur's girlfriend in San Francisco.
maternal figure throughout the novel; always willing to give Sal and Dean shelter and food at the end of their journeys; protects them in one scene by paying for a traffic ticket and keeping them out of jail.
Sal's friend in Denver; interested in Indian culture and anthropology.
Dean's and Sal's friend in Denver.
writer and friend of Sal's in Denver; patterns himself after Hemingway and is more acquainted with life's delicacies.
Dean's second wife; lives in San Francisco and fathers two of Dean's children; the final woman Dean goes back to at the end of the novel.
Babe and Ray Rawlins
brother and sister who live in Denver.
Elmer never actually appears in the novel; he got lost in Times Square and was never seen again, though Dean and Sal always look for him when they are there.
a brief love interest of Sal's; Sal believes he will marry Lucille, but he gets called to go on the road with Dean instead.
Chicano migrant worker Sal meets in California; Sal falls in love with Terry and spends several months picking cotton in the fields with Terry, her child, her family, and other migrant farm workers; Terry first symbolizes the purity Kerouac sees in marginalized cultures in America.
a woman Dean finds and lives with in New York; Dean has a child with Inez and leaves her to follow Sal to Mexico; after divorcing Camille, his second wife, Dean marries Inez only to leave her the next day to go live with Camille in San Francisco.
friend of Dean's and Sal's who accompanies them to Mexico City.
Sal's and Dean's friend and guide in Gregoria, Mexico; provides Sal and Dean with drugs and whores during their stay.
hitchhiker Sal meets on the road; reminds Sal of his family in New York.
a girl to whom Dean introduces Sal.
beatnik scholar whom Sal and Dean greatly admire.
friend of Sal's in Arizona.
On the Road Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for On the Road is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
To everyone except for Sal, Dean is a failure. On the Road is Sal's story, though, and his attempt to make everyone else understand in what way Dean is a hero. In fact, to Sal, Dean is more than a hero: Sal sees something saintlike about...