Notes on Objects & Places from On the Road

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On the Road Objects/Places

Benzedrine: Originally a psychological prescription drug, this was a popular drug because of its hallucinogenic properties well into the late sixties when it was replaced by Timothy Leary's LSD.

Cold Water Flat: A type of low income housing like a basement apartment.

GI Checks: These were veteran benefits from the GI bill signed after World War 2. They were intended for education. As a result of these benefits, a cultural revolution occurred because more people attended college than ever before.

Mann Act: An early 20th century act aimed at restricting interstate adultery and prostitution. By the second half of the 20th century, it was deemed unconstitutional.

Mississippi: In popular American mythology, the Mississippi river has become a symbol for the 'journey' and life itself. In purely geographical terms, it splits the United States into halves. Sal notes every time he crosses it.

New Orleans: Another sacred city of the Beat generation. This city was popular as the birthplace of blues.

New York City: New York is Salvatore Paradise's once and future home that he is always leaving, yet always returning to.

Okie: Originally a term for migrant workers displaced by the depression and the drought from the south Midwest. Kerouac's use of it is descriptive rather than pejorative.

San Francisco: This city was one of the holy cities of the Beat Generation partially because of its geographic location, but also because of a growing poet and jazz community.

Tea: Slang for marijuana. Marijuana was traditionally popular with jazz musicians but became appropriated by the Beat generation.

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