What impression of Sal, Dean and the world they live in emerges in the opening of ‘On the Road’?
‘On the Road’ is a novel of characters more than of plot, of moods and places, visions described, and above all, the unceasing movement of the characters. It is narrated by Sal Paradise but the novel is undeniably centred on the hero, the manic ‘young jailkid’, Dean Moriarty. The opening scene is set with exposition of descriptions of Sal's life before Dean, and foreshadowing of their sadder, older lives after this period. In the opening line, Sal describes how he has just split with his wife and recovered from a serious illness ‘feeling that everything was dead’. He feels depressed and tired and overall, he is ‘beaten’. Dean's arrival and personality reinvigorates Sal Paradise and rescues him from depression and despair.