I really enjoyed this section of the novel for a couple of reasons. First of all it showed that while Sal is still on the road, and thinking fondly at times of his life back in Paterson and NYC, he actually establishes a lifestyle in another part of America, first with Remi and Lee Ann and then with Terry. I really liked the insight that these sections gave into the existence of working but very poor people in these supposedly prosperous post-war years.
I also liked how Sal keeps trying to voice his idealism about his country and its people even while he is constantly being disillusioned. I see this in many young people today. Maybe not with travels per se - but with dreams of a career and role to play in the world that will make a difference, while stuck in a tedious day-to-day job, waiting for their real life to kick in, a job that seems enervating and discouraging beyond its actual demands.
But what surprised me also was how funny this section was. I was not expecting this. Even with Kerouac’s voice/writing style, and references to Hemingway who is obviously so much an influence, the humour still comes through in a very contemporary way.
For example, near the end of this section, we read about Sal’s “fastest, whoopingest ride of (his) life with a fiddler from the cowboy band. He had a brand new car and drove 80 miles an hour. ‘I don’t drink when I drive,’ he said, and handed me a pint. I took a drink and offered him one. ‘What the hail,’ he said and drank.”
Other moments that had me laughing included the scene with the trailer salesman and the bickering between Remi and Lee Ann. Not to mention the drunken dinner with Remi’s father and the intrusion of Sal’s buddy Roland Major. Sal’s eventual response - “I gave up, I got drunk. I began talking moonshine and roses to the doctor’s young wife.”
P.S. There is a long, famous and I believe depressing poem called Paterson which I will try to find and post a link to… I enjoy how Sal thinks back fondly upon his hometown, as I had a terrible impression of it previously!