On The Road
Throughout On the Road, readers are confronted with several modes of travel, both literal and physical. One recurrent type of travel is hitchhiking. This style of travel is particularly fascinating because it involves individual travel that remains dependent on another person. Immediately, readers are thrown into Sal’s journey to Denver. As a 21st century reader, hitchhiking seems completely implausible and removed from our current styles of travel. In order to be a successful hitchhiker, one is dependent on another person. This type of travel is entirely different from any other in that it is individual and yet so dependent on another person.
Sal begins his journey to Denver by hitchhiking, a type of travel that creates a bond between two complete strangers. The connection made between both parties the journey itself however, the connection also remains mutual—both people involved need something from the other. While hitchhiking can be seen as unsafe, in the beginning, it is clear that Sal offers something to those that pick him up each time. Sometimes the driver just wants company and other times, with the mother in the beginning, the driver would like someone’s help with their journey. While travel is so related to making a connection, hitchhiking connects people together only through their journey itself, which is still similar to modern day travel but different in the sense that typically only two people are involved.
One aspect that stood out to me was the fact that Sal struggled sometimes to make conversation with those that pick him up. This ties back to one of the recurrent themes in On the Road, which suggests that expansive land breed’s loneliness or wholeness. On the Road grapples with ideas of what America means. Although Sal goes back and forth with his own notions, readers are also asked to question what this massive amount of land means. Are there connections between people across the country? Or do we remain isolated in our own environments? As a teacher, these questions seem so related to the way we connect with students. Many students seem distant, not in terms of geography but in terms of relatedness. How do we reach students that seem to be too far away? On the Road makes me question whether or not hitchhiking can exist in the real world, or even in teaching. I think as long as the relationship between teacher and student remains one where both people can learn something from the other, that form of travel can exist and we can meet halfway so to speak. However, there are instances, like in On the Road where the relationship is too forced and both people feel uncomfortable. I do like the idea of involved travel in teaching and journeying to meet students wherever they may be.