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On the Road Notes on Characters

This section contains 1,384 word
(approx. 5 pages at 300 words per page)

On the Road Major Characters

Camille: Dean's mistress and second wife with whom he has two children. Dean is originally cheating on his first wife Marylou with Camille in Denver. They end up married and living together in San Francisco. Camille becomes very emotional and volatile near the end of the relationship. Dean leaves Camille for Inez.

Carlo Marx: Friend of Dean and Salvatore. Carlo is a bum-intellectual who writes poetry and plays jazz. He is often found in basement apartments in either Denver or New York. His sage like advice represents a replacement in the absence of paternity throughout the novel. Carlo matures along the same liens as Salvatore. In the beginning of the book he is fixated with Dean, but by the middle he has grown into a different realm.

Dean Moriarty: Main protagonist and antagonist. Dean's volatile and attractive personality draws Salvatore into a new and wild world. His marriage and divorce with Camille and Mary Lou and his last affair with Inez provide a few of the romantic entanglements in the plot. He begins the tale as an associate of Carlo Marx, just out of prison in the south- west. Apparently, he grew up in Colorado with a hobo/bum for a father for whom he searches on many occasions throughout the book. Dean's fanatic personality races from journey to journey and pulls the other characters along. His various fixations with drugs, women, intellectualism and finally, his father and family life, provide milestones of emotional growth for Salvatore Paradise.

Marylou: First wife of Dean. Marylou is left by Dean for Camille, but when Dean leaves San Francisco he goes back to Denver and retrieves Marylou and brings her to Sal's brother's place in Virginia. For a while, it seems that Dean and Marylou are interested in Sal being Marylou's 'man' once the group reaches San Francisco, but once there, it becomes apparent that Marylou is only really interested in Dean. After a while she becomes a sort of prostitute but ends up marrying a used-car salesman.

Salvatore Paradise: The first person narrator of the story. The events of his three years on the road, except for a few short asides, make up the plot of the novel. He begins the story after his first divorce and ends it in a relationship with a woman known only as Laura. He lives with his unnamed aunt. His fixation with the personality of Dean Moriarty and his group of friends is integral to the evolution of the story. Sal's rocky relationship with and interest in Dean is the primary plot device of the tale. He begins the novel as an unsuccessful aspiring writer who meets Dean, a 'ball of flame' and follows him around the country. By the end of the story, he is tired of Dean's antics and is ready to settle down. Because this novel is semi-autobiographical, it is usually agreed that Salvatore represents the author himself.

Terry: Sal meets Terry on a bus ride and they fall in love. Terry is from a family of Mexican migrant workers and is separated from her husband who beats her. Sal and Terry spend some months together scraping together a subsistence living. They part in October and never see each other again. At different points in the novel, Sal looks back to his time with Terry and misses her.

Minor Characters

Babe Rawlins: The Sister to Ray Rawlings, she goes to the opera with Sal and is in love with Tim Gray.

Chad King: Original friend of Dean Moriarty, who introduced him to Salvatore Paradise. Salvatore read Dean's letters to Chad and became interested in him. Chad quickly becomes disillusioned with his one time friend.

Ed Dunkel: Friend of Dean and Sal who marries Galatea so that she will come with them across country and pay for the trip. Even though he ditches her at a hotel and on repeated other occasions, he ultimately returns to her every time.

Ed Wall: Ed Wall is a fringe member of Sal's group of friends whose family is wealthy. He has a ranch in Colorado. Although he has been an associate of Dean and Sal, he doesn't trust them and thinks that they stole the limousine they are driving to Chicago.

Eddie: The New York hitchhiker who meets up with Sal. Sal pays his bus fare and lends him a wool shirt. When a ride comes that can take only one of them, Eddie abandons Sal. They meet up again in Denver and behave as friends.

Galatea Dunkel: Wife of Ed who is mistreated and keeps Ed through perseverance. Near the end of the book, she becomes a moral voice against the antics of Dean.

Jane Lee: Wife of Old Bull Lee. Like her husband, she is almost permanently high.

Lee Ann: Volatile significant other of Remi Boncoeur. Lee Ann thinks that Remi is wealthy when she first meets him and is disappointed when she discovers the reality.

Lucille: Longshoreman's wife with whom Sal was having an affair before he left on his second long trip.

Mississippi Gene: Hobo who is escorting a young man across country when he meets Sal on the back of the flat bed truck. Sal buys him cigarettes.

Montana Slim: Another hobo who is more selfish than Mississippi Gene and does not share his cigarettes. Sal gets drunk with him in Cheyenne.

Old Bull Lee: The teacher/sage of drugs and life of Sal's group of friends. At different times in the story, Old Bull Lee lives with his wife and kids in either Texas or New Orleans. Old Bull Lee is most interested in drugs and idealizes the period of American culture from 1900 to 1910.

Ponzo: A migrant worker who is interested in Terry.

Ray Johnson: A man who drives Sal and Dean around during their last days in San Francisco.

Ray Rawlins: Part of Sal's circle of friends who rejected Dean and Carlo Marx.

Remi Bencoeur: Sal's prep school friend with whom he stays outside of San Francisco. Remi, who is married to Lee Ann, helps Sal find a job. Remi is ostentatious and saves all his money from the week to squander it on Saturday nights. His relationship with Lee Ann is volatile.

Reta Bettencourt: The waitress that Sal has sex with in Denver. Dean introduces Sal to her.

Rickey: Terry's brother who owns the truck with which they plan to haul manure. Rickey is almost always drunk.

Roland Major: Writer, friend and one-time roommate of Sal, Roland writes Hemingway-esque short stories. He makes a general fool of himself when he runs into Sal at a restaurant in San Francisco where he is currently writing for a newspaper.

Stan Shepherd: The man introduced to Sal by Tim Gray with whom Dean and Sal go to Mexico.

Tim Gray: A member of Sal's circle of friends who does little more than provide apartments (for Roland Major and Sal) or introductions (Stan Shepherd to Sal).

Tom Snark: Another member of Sal's group of friends. Tom just appears at various times for parties and get-togethers.

Victor: Victor is the young man in Mexico who shows Sal, Dean and Stan Shepherd around to marijuana and prostitutes.

Walter: The man with whom Dean and Sal drink in San Francisco. His wife is the wife who is so pleasant and accepting.

Inez: Dean Moriarty’s latest love interest at the end of the novel. She is a new woman who is willing to deal with his antics. Dean rushes back to New York from Mexico to be with her, only to leave her a few months later after she has gotten to be boring. He has a child with her as well. He leaves her to return to Camille.

Aunt: Sal’s aunt is pictured rarely in the story but she is of permeating importance. He lives with her. She supports him in his times of need. Whenever he runs out of money while he is on the road, she is the one who sends him a check from her account or his. She helps him get his books published, and when he finally starts making some money, she gets a new apartment. She is also a moral voice in the novel. She does not respond positively to Dean’s treatment of women and even though she is enchanted by his dynamic behavior, she is willing to criticize him.

Sam Brady: One of the member’s of Dean’s old gang. When it splits, he becomes a more distant and disapproving associate.

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