SIDEKICK: Dean Moriarity
FAITHFUL COMPANION OF: Sal Paradise
Like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, On the Road is a loosely autobiographical novel about two men who take to the highways to find truth and a bit of adventure. Of course, that’s pretty much where the similarities end: Salvatore Paradise (whom Jack Kerouac modeled on himself) and Dean Moriarity are nothing like the crazed protagonists of Thompson’s hallucinogenic world — they’re restless poets who want to take in all the vast array of experiences offered by a post-war America. Moriarity, based on Kerouac’s poet friend and frequent road-trip companion Neal Cassady, is the boo’’s literal and figurative driving force — a tortured spirit whose insatiable need to feel leads to his eventual undoing.
INTERESTING FACT: The book, and its sprawling pop-heroic themes, has been cited as an inspiration behind the forming of The Doors — and the Katy Perry megahit “Firework.”