Note: Originally posted on Blogger on June 7, 2006
Unfolding the Map
This is the first post dealing with a place that Kerouac mentions, but does not have his lead character stop at. The Holland Tunnel is one of the connectors between Manhattan and New Jersey. As usual, to see the progression of the map you can click on the image at left.
"'Besides,' said the man,'there's no traffic passes through 6. If you want to go to Chicago you'd do better going across the Holland Tunnel in New York and head for Pittsburgh,' and I knew he was right."
On the Road: Chapter 2
The Holland Tunnel
I was really tempted to speculate before I put this point on the map. My original question concerned where would Sal have started before he went through the Holland Tunnel? I know 1990s New York, pre-September 11, and most buses out of town would probably leave from the Port Authority. But I wasn't sure about 1947. Then I thought that Penn Station might be the place where buses came and went, but again I couldn't be sure. Sal mentions the Holland Tunnel in quoting some advice another person told him and seems to agree. He also comes back into Manhattan, so I was okay with assuming that a bus that he took went through the Holland Tunnel.
It had to have been tough to chew on for Sal, coming back into Manhattan after a seemingly false start. However, the tunnel is a great metaphor -- I'm sure you can think of all the possibilities. Birth, passage, new vistas, a fresh start, a dark place before the light, new discoveries and so on. I have always been fascinated with tunnels, and a little afraid of them too. When I was growing up in Northern California, just outside of town was a train tunnel that we occasionally passed through. I was scared to death of being caught in the tunnel when the train came through, even though many of my friends who had experienced it called it a rush. The problem with the tunnel was that to be missed by the train, you needed to squeeze yourself into little hollows between the timbers that held up the sides of the tunnel. It was not an experience that I wanted. The first time I rode BART from San Francisco to Oakland across the bay, I actually feared that an earthquake would occur while I was in the tunnel, causing catastrophic collapse and my premature death.
My fears aside, there is nothing more wondrous than going through a tunnel, especially one that you've never been through, and emerging from the darkness on other side and seeing something new. I imagine that as Sal caught that bus, and went through that tunnel, that he realized that he was finally on his way and that despite his false start, he was finally beginning his trip in earnest.
If You Want to Know More About the Holland Tunnel