On the Road: Arcadia, California
Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 11:20AM
Michael L. Hess in Arcadia, Arcas, California, Jack Kerouac, On the Road, On the Road, Sal Paradise, Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, beat, beatnik

Click on Thumbnail for Map

Note: First published on Blogger on September 13, 2007

Unfolding the Map

I'm back for a post, everyone. Sorry for the delay. I'm trying to finish a dissertation and apply for jobs. And I went to El Salvador for five weeks. It's too bad that these things have to get in the way of the fun stuff, but I'm sure that Sal and Jack would have mocked my efforts to get myself into academia...I'd be quite a square in their eyes. Oh well...click on the map to see where we are!

Book Quote

"Terry and I had to decide absolutely and once and for all what to do. We decided to hitch to New York with our remaining money. She picked up five dollars from her sister that night. We had about thirteen or less. So before the daily room rent was due again we packed up and took off on a red car to Arcadia, California, where Santa Anita racetrack is located under snow-capped mountains. It was night. We were pointed toward the american continent."

On the Road, Chapter 13

Arcadia, California

It's interesting what happens when you reach a point where you know what you're doing just isn't working, and yet you have no idea what to do next. Sal and Terry are at that point. Their plan to make it in LA has gone nowhere, and they are down to their last few pennies. We've all hit those points in our lives. I think that I've hit those points a lot in the last 10 years.

Recently, my sister hit that point, and like Sal, she made a decision to stop trying to force herself into jobs that weren't working for her, and decided to go home. She is now back with my mother, and trying to figure out where her life is going next.

It's a lonely place. Some don't understand why you've decided to give up. Others understand, but your leaving means that those people who were important at that time in your life may drift away. In some ways, it feels like a regression, not a progression. You've failed, and now you must wallow in your misery and go back to all those people who want to say "I told you so."

Sal has spent a lot of time and energy to get out to the West coast. Now, as he says, he is pointed toward the american continent, in Arcadia. Arcadia's name has roots in Greek mythology. Arcas was the son of Zeus by Callisto in one of Zeus' infamous seductions. Arcas eventually ruled Arcadia and was the world's greatest hunter. And in a way, Sal is hunting. He stands at the cusp of a new decision, searching for a direction, seeking the shelter of his familiar New York.

One day Arcas accidentally killed his mother, who was disguised as a Great Bear, and Zeus put them in the heavens as Ursa Major and Ursa Minor. The end of the tail of Ursa Minor is Polaris, the North Star. As we will see, Sal and Terry cannot escape the pull north very easily...they think they will go east, but they must go north to get there.

If you want to know more about Arcadia

City of Arcadia
Santa Anita Racetrack
Santa Anita Racetrack Assembly Center for WWII Japanese Relocation
Wikipedia: Arcadia, California

Next up: Bakersfield, California (again!)

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