BeAt! On the Road



Read and draw.

What strikes you ?


  • Gangsters
  • mountainside
  • Nebraska
  • no traffic
  • hundred km
  • highway
  • island
  • sleeping
  • island
  • moonlight
  • moonlight
  • magnificent car

Text analysis …

Dean and Sal are the main characters / protagonists.

They are driving towards Chicago / accross Nebraska / they fantasize about going to South America where they imagine Indians are tall and addicted to cocaine. 

They’re going by car, they drive fast because there is no traffic. 

Sal is not frightened because they feel free at night without traffic. 

The landscape / waves > the car is compared to a boat.

The landscape’s movement is compared to the sea.

The text itself feels like a moving landscape (cf list of city names like a train message / crescendo and sharp punctuation.)

The whole book was written on a single scroll of paper > so the shape / format mirrors the contents. (contenu = forme like French ‘calligrammes’)

Did he use drugs to write? 

Maybe / the text feels free / there no punctuation / the prose is rolling like the landscape / we are in the car / we can hear the experience of the characters.

1st person narrative : récit à la 1ère personne / > almost stream of consciousness : monologue intérieur.

metaphor 1 = > boat // car

metaphor 2 =>  style // feelings 

metaphor 3 = > characters’ driving speed // writer’s writing process ?

> pathetic fallacy (paysage interieur.)

LMA answers typed by Jordan.


  1. Francisca and Patricia : There are two characters in the car. Sal is the narrator. He is dreaming. He is looking at the landscape while Dean is driving fast across Nebraska to chicago.
  2. Bilaly : Sal is not frightened because it is perfectly legitimate to 110 MPH across Nebraska at night and there is trafic.
  3. Mael : « Falling behind » represents the Pacific streamliner and the redemption for all immigrants who live the American Dream.”according to Mael”
  4. ? : Miles per Hour
  5. ? : The boat = the car, running metaphor. >>> stream of consciouness.
  6. Serge : Their destination is Chicago. Their dream destination : Mexico, South America, Panama. It reveals that characters are dreamers. The characters are fantaisizing their own story.
  7. Imane : For Dean this car symbolises the freedom : he associates this car with the boat that lead europeans immigrants to America, motivated by the « American Dream », at the end of the 18th century.
    Nour-Eddine : For Dean, the car and traveling represent / inspire freedom. They are a way to go anywhere as far as possible, all the way to the bottom of South America.
  8. Teacher : Dean wants to dream and to feel free. Nobody can’t stop him. He needs to drive fast to reach his American Dream. This extract is the modern equivalent of the Gold Rush.
  9. Sandy and Camille : A « fast car » exemplifies the Consumerist Society. Other quotations appear like a beatniks version of the American dream like Dean could go mad and then suddenly continue with his soul. «Mad» and «soul» seems to be the symbol of the BEAT GENERATION.
    >They were pushing limits and breaking norms, most of the time the literary critique considered them as mad artists. Indeed, all Beat Generation writers were either loosing their minds to alcohol or drugs or sometimes acting like fools when they were staging their performances, thus madness – real or faked – was at the center of their writing process. Yet there was truth in their madness, a sense of universal disillusion similar to Romantic spleen.

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