A Disappointed Sigh in the Dark

Here, in Chapter 10 of Part One of On the Road, is the whole of the novel in half a paragraph:

She was a nice little girl, simple and true, and tremendously frightened of sex. I told her it was beautiful. I wanted to prove this to her. She let me prove it, but I was too impatient and proved nothing. She sighed in the dark. “What do you want out of life?” I asked, and I used to ask that all the time of girls.

There are the grandiose claims; the utter lack of the discipline and art necessary to fulfill the promise of those claims; the woman absorbing his failures and, though she’s just been essentially deflowered and disappointed, being asked for intimate wisdom; and the honesty to commit all of that pathos to the page. What I keep wondering as I re-read this book is how anyone believes that it offers any positive insight or guidance into how to live life. What am I deaf to?

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