Jack and Rita

Excerpted from On The Road by Jack Kerouac, ©1957:

Then I went to meet Rita Bettencourt and took her back to the apartment. I got a her in my bedroom after a long talk in the dark of the front room. 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. 

“I don’t know,” she said. “Just wait on tables and try to get along.” She yawned. I put my hand over her mouth and told her not to yawn.I tried to tell her how excited I was about life and the things we could do together; saying that, and planning to leave Denver in two days. She turned away wearily. We lay on our backs, looking at the ceiling and wondering what God had wrought when He made life so sad. We made vague plans to meet in Frisco. 

My moments in Denver were coming to an end, I could feel it when I walked her home, on the way back I stretched I out on the grass of an old church with a bunch of hobos, and their talk made me want to get back on that road. Every now and then one would get up and hit a passer-by for a dime. They talked of harvests moving north. It was warm and soft. I wanted to go and get Rita again and tell her a lot more things, and really make love to her this time, and calm her fears about men. Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together; sophistication demands that they submit to sex immediately without proper preliminary talk. Not courting talk– real straight talk about souls, for life is holy and every moment is precious.

I don’t think the problem is with “God” or “society.”  I think the problem is that Jack is a dishonest, selfish jerk.



  1. Oh, thank you! I was hoping I wouldn’t have to make that comment myself. He blasted open the definitions of literature for all of us, but he was a misogynist with a capital “M.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m with you. I love the way it’s written, but it’s hard for me to separate the art from the artist.

      Liked by 1 person

      • He would have hated to know that on this he really was a standard product of his time 😆


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