Author Jack Kerouac once said, “My fault, my failure, is not in the passions I have, but in my lack of control of them.” Kerouac believed his fate consisted of much more than bad luck and poor decision making and attributed it to the naturally occurring, subconscious processes of his mind. In his novel On the Road, Kerouac writes about this phenomena of internal concepts that drive human beings to act the way they do, and in this specific case, live. Kerouac uses On the Road to tell tales of the journey from the earlier years of his life. Kerouac portrays himself as alter-ego Sal Paradise and influential friend Neal Cassady as Dean Moriarty. Although Kerouac cannot put what Sal and Dean are pursuing into a single word or phrase besides calling it IT, the essence of their story helps define what they are in search of. Sal and Dean each have their own distinct disposition and perspective, but are united by their internal desires. The characters in Kerouac’s novel On The Road portray the power of human motivations as they try to fulfill their personal needs according to Maslow’s Hierarchy. Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty were strongly guided by human motivations that provided incentive and prompted the initial action of their journey. Kerouac provides simple, yet vital details in the opening of the book writing, “My wife and I split up. I had just gotten over a serious illness that I won’t bother to talk about, except that it had something to do with the miserably weary split-up and my feeling that everything was dead. With the Coming of Dean Moriarty began the part of my life you could call my life on the road” (9). Sal, living with his aunt and unsure what to do with his life, decides to meat Dean in his hometown of Denver. Sal is too experienced to be considered an adolescent, yet is not ready to be an adult. When Sal leaves New York City, he begins a seven year moratorium, an attempt to “transcend and transform himself” (Dunphy), that is best defined as his life on the road. To get a better understanding of what may have motivated Sal and Dean, it helps to have an understanding of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs and how it applies to the psychology of human motivations. Maslow’s 1943 study A Theory of Motivation was vital to psychologists, for they helped explain motivations and innate human curiosity. Maslow stated that all human beings hold wants and desires that influence their behavior. He claims humans are driven by unsatisfied needs, and that only unsatisfied needs can influence behavior. He arranged these possible unsatisfied needs in the order they must be met, increasing in complexity. The list consists of physiological, safety and security, social, self esteem, and self actualization needs. As the person satisfies needs higher up in the list, the more human and psychologically healthy the person is. As the novel progresses, the reader is able to watch Sal and Dean strive to meet the needs that still remained unsatisfied to them, serving as their motivation throughout the story. In the beginning of the novel, Sal must overcome his physiological needs. Specifically, he needs to overcome the illness that plagued him after he was separated from his wife. The mysterious sickness inhibits him from maintaining a high quality of life. According to Maslow, if physiological conditions are not met, then there is no way to satisfy more complex needs since psychological needs are essential to life. While Sal’s basic needs may have involved numerous factors, Kerouac depicts Dean’s needs in a much simpler manner. Dean screams to Sal a during one of his visits to New York City, “so long’s we can eat, son, y’ear me? I’m hungry, I’m starving, let’s eat right now!” (8). Dean’s love of food may have been strong, but he also had another drive, his sex drive, that was much stronger than his appetite. Kerouac does not try to hide Dean’s drive, being blunt from the opening of the novel that Dean was in constant pursuit of women, with more of his emphasis on personal pleasure than intimacy. So strong was this drive that Kerouac wrote, “for to him sex was the one and only hold and important thing in life” (2). Dean’s simple struggles immediately help add to a romantic image. He is much more spontaneous and free-spirited than the analytical Sal, who yearns to be free. This image helps further depict a slight tension between Sal and Dean, where Sal is the man the reader sees in him or herself, but Dean is the character the reader wishes to be. Once physiological needs are met, matters of safety and security can be questioned. Maslow considered adults to be more concerned with their security during times of need, while young children display signs of insecurity and the need to be safe. This point is significant because Dean and Sal are no longer young children, but at the same time they are trying to keep away from full-time adulthood. With views on safety and security unlike those of children or mature adults, Sal and Dean follow neither perspective. Instead, they find their safety and security in unconventional ways and places. Most notably, they find safety and security on the road. Sal and Dean could not say they were most safe and secure in the comforts of their own homes, which would be a typical answer, because they did not have homes. Instead, they embraced life on the road, finding comfort in simple pleasures that the road provided. Most importantly, they tried to preserve the safety of their well-being, traveling constantly to repress any feelings or emotions from their respective hometowns that may have been haunting each of them. Perhaps the best explanation for their comfort felt on the road is provided by researcher Michael Hess, “For me, there is nothing better than a road trip, especially after I settle into the drive and leave past stress of the packing and leaving behind and the future stress of getting to the place you are going is still far away.” It is likely Sal and Dean felt comfort in this concept. Once they stepped foot on the road, worries about what happened in past and what was approaching in the future faded away, and instead they were able to appreciate each moment as it happened, and focus on the present. Because of the road’s power to consume all thoughts, needs like job security, family security, and property security were fulfilled because they were no longer a priority in their everyday lives. With no priorities, Sal was able to follow Dean’s lead, and search for the answers to questions that continually piqued his curiosity. At the onset of his pursuit, Sal naively thought his search would yield direct results, what ever they may be. Quickly he realized, “it was my dream that screwed up, the stupid hearthside idea that it would be wonderful to follow one great red line across America instead of trying various roads and routes” (11). Sal was neither shocked or discouraged by his findings because he had begun to feel the safety of the road. Dean also had an unconventional view on safety and security, and it was evidenced by his approach to driving and the way he dangerously experimented with drugs and alcohol. Dean is described as, “the circus that every boy dreams of joining. Dean’s road is pure carnal excitement, all speed and jazz and sex” (Leland). Kerouac makes it very apparent that Dean is not phased by circumstanced that traditionally would be considered dangerous. Numerous times, Dean is scolded for his reckless driving, but then is glamorized as a hero by cutting the duration of a trip in half. When Dean wrecks a car with other passengers on board, the passengers immediately tell Sal, “He’s a devil with a car, isn’t he?– and according to his story he must be with the women” (231). This documented reckless abandon is an example of the lack of fear that Dean holds. Once on the road, Sal and Dean never feel as if they are in harm’s way, and due to this they are motivated to advance on to higher needs. Social needs follow those of safety and security. Maslow considered social needs to be those that motivate a person to find friends, belong, and give and receive love. They are often referred to simply as belonging needs. Sal feels the urge to belong as the story begins, since his divorce from his wife creates the need to leave New York City and start life on the road. Typically, the need to belong it most immediate in terms of family members and loved ones whom a person spends most of their time with. Since Sal was leaving what remained of his family behind, he was able to bypass the need to belong to a family and instead search for which ever group he believed he was a part of. The search for friendship is one of the key motivations to belong, and On the Road chronicles Sal and Dean’s unique friendship. At the beginning of the novel, Sal and Dean are just acquaintances who have the same goals; to avoid loneliness and alienation. So desperate to belong was Sal, that he ignored the warning from his aunt before he left. Kerouac wrote about the warning, “Although my aunt warned me that he would get me in trouble, I could hear a new call and see a new horizon… I was a young writer and I wanted to take off” (8). Sal was willing to leave the safety and comforts of his hometown, a need in which he had previously satisfied, in order to find the place where he believed he belonged. When Sal arrived in San Francisco, he realized that Sal lived recklessly, and although he had wives, ex-wives, and children, yet much like himself, had no real family. Traveling back to Denver, one of the four cross country trips taken in the novel, Sal again witnesses Dean’s struggles to belong. Denver is Dean’s hometown, and he and his father are well known for being car thieves and drunks. Sal realizes that as much as Dean talks about being loved, his relationships are all superficial. Their friendship grows as the pair continues to hit the road. They meet up with other transients, and question whether the road is ultimately where they belong. Earlier in the novel, Sal is in near awe of Dean, and just along for the ride, while Dean calls the shots. This dynamic of their friendship changes in San Francisco when Sal sees that Dean has been thrown out of the house by his second wife, Camille. Sal no longer feels like he is the one who must listen to Dean, but instead decides to take some stake in the direction, or IT, that they are pursuing in their friendship. “By taking custody of Dean and IT, Sal changes from being little more than an admirer caught up in Dean’s wake to becoming Dean’s father-defender” (Dardess). Their needs changed as the novel progressed, and because of this their friendship evolved. When Sal saw Dean struggle with his wife, he knew he was finding where he belonged. He thought, “now his eyes were blank and looking through me. It was probably the pivotal point of our friendship when he realized that I had actually spent some hours thinking about him and his troubles, and he was trying to place that in his tremendously and tormented mental categories” (188-189). Sal knew that their friendship was special, and he was finally able to see a more human side of Dean as he broke down in San Francisco. Dean realizes that as strong as his power is to manipulate Sal, he equally belongs to Sal for helping keep him alive. This friendship fulfills the need to belong, and is another essential part of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs depicted in On the Road. When belonging needs are fulfilled, the needs for esteem are the next motivations for Sal and Dean. Maslow considered these esteem needs to be those from the self and the esteem that is received from others. If these needs are satisfied, a person feels valuable and confident. If these needs are not met, a person is left feeling weak, worthless, and frustrated. Dean relies on his esteem throughout the novel, cherishing the temporary highs from the daily thrills he seeks, while within himself he knows that his future is not as bright as his facetious looks on the outside. Dean was usually the driver during their travels, and he always believed that he would find something great at the end of each of their journeys. Sal, much wiser, yet still skeptical, kept quiet, as he did not want to crush Dean’s false hopes that he doubted were in reach. Dean, motivated to keep his esteem high, enjoyed every moment of their journey, almost as if he was oblivious to the realities of their situations. Near the end of their journey, the pair traveled through Mexico. Dean was convinced this was where IT lied, and continued to convince himself saying, “I certainly damn well did, oh me, oh my, I don’t know what to do I’m so excited and sweetened in this morning world. We’ve finally got to heaven. It couldn’t be any cooler, it couldn’t be any grander, it couldn’t be anything” (282). Dean is only correct in one part of his statement, the part where he says it couldn’t be anything. Kerouac emphasizes this to show that Dean is trying to justify the choices he has made, choices that have brought himself and Sal miles from their home. Dean tries to build his esteem, and shrink his cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is best explained as the phenomena that describes the uncomfortable feeling when a person begins to understand that something the person believes to be true is, in fact, not true (Myers). The cognitive dissonance theory explains why Dean was driven to make such bold statements. He was trying to justify his actions and alleviate the amount of tension that was building up because of the decisions that he has had to make. Dean’s false high self esteem was likely to keep spirits up, but Sal understood that the reality was that they had traveled many miles, yet gotten no where. Finally, when all other needs are met, a human being is motivated to fulfill the needs of self-actualization. These needs are described by Maslow as those in which a person was “born to do.” He said, “A musician must make music, an artist must paint, and a poet must write.” Sal and Dean struggle with the idea of self actualization because they spend much of their time trying to satisfy the four lower level needs. One can not try to understand the concept of self, if he or she is still searching for his or her identity. Dean, as discussed previously, is too immature and unrealistic to experience true thoughts of self-actualization, but Sal, much more coherent, is able to. Due to these differing abilities, Sal settles down at the end of the story, while Dean continues to live life on the road. As the novel began, Sal knew that he was in search of himself. While he did not know what his calling was at the time, but he knew that his journey on the road would help point him in the right direction. These early signs of self-actualization were indicated at the onset of his journey, as Kerouac wrote, “I didn’t really know who I was for fifteen strange seconds. I wasn’t scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost. I was halfway across America, at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my future, and maybe that’s why it happened right there and then” (15).This maturity provides insight to the mental capabilities that Sal possesses, and helps show what Dean may have been lacking. Maslow also stated that self-actualization is what causes a person to be restless, yet that it is not always clear when there is a need for self actualization. Dean was certainly restless, but his inability to self-actualize hinders him from assuming a normal life. This contrast in cognition is chronicled by writer John Leland who explains,“[Sal] follows Dean out onto the road but then ultimately outgrows him, finishing the book off the road. Sal comes to recognize Dean’s road as destructive and limiting–as long as Dean keeps going through the same motions, leaving a new baby and a new ex-wife in every town, he isn’t really on the road, he’s stuck in a rut. Sal, by contrast, is learning to be a man and a writer, searching for meaning and a home.” Sal returns home, and settles down with wife Laura– Kerouac married Joan Haverty– and began to chronicle his tale. Happily married and safely home, Sal is able to appreciate where he has been, and remains curious about where Dean is. Since he can self-actualize, he knows that he has finally found his place, or his calling in life. Kerouac perhaps dropped a hint with the last name Paradise, showing that Sal finally found his, while Dean’s never existed. Sal is finally able to appreciate Dean for breathing new life into him as they traveled across country. Years later a much older and wiser Kerouac summed up his journey with, “the best teacher is through experience and not through someone else’s distorted point of view.” Sal’s ability to self-actualize shows that over the course of the novel he has fulfilled Maslow’s hierarchy of motivations. Overall, Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty do an excellent job in Kerouac’s On the Road showing how humans are motivated according to Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Their unique journey chronicles the struggle to satisfy physiological, safety, social, esteem, and self-actualization needs. Sal and Dean each travel the same path, but because of their differing reasons and levels of motivation, end up in separate places. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is satisfied by the actions of Sal and Dean, as the needs become more complex as the novel intensifies. These motivations are present in the drives of all individuals, further supporting the idea that Kerouac used the road as a microcosm for all life. In reflection, Sal said it best, saying, “the road is life” (215).