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Jack Kerouac is known as one of the foremost authors of the beat generation.  He attended private school and received a football scholarship to Columbia University.  Rather than completing school, he met Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, and William Burroughs and joined the merchant marines.

“On the Road” is based on the actual cross-country trek Kerouac made with Neal Cassady.  Kerouac bases his characters on many of his real life friends who are also beat-generation writers, such as Neal Cassady (Dean Moriarty), Allen Ginsberg (Carlo Marx) and William Burroughs (Bull Lee).

Kerouac himself is, of course, main character Sal Paradise.  Kerouac wished to change the face and structure of literature by infusing his own style which was decidedly different than authors to come before him.  His writing was poetic and rambling, with some paragraphs taking up entire pages and some sentences being an entire stream of consciousness that runs together.

The setting of the novel is during the late 1940’s- early 1950’s, just past the great depression and before the Civil Rights movement, which was a calm time in the history of the United States.

The novel expresses a time when the young adults of America were coming into their own and beginning to care about the world around them and the injustice of it all.  The novel was written more than fifty years ago but reflects a mindset in the youth of the nation thatstil exists today, and it gives young people something to relate to in a world that is constantly changing though not always for the better.

It is the winter of 1947 and Dean Moriarty has just been released from jail, married, and is on the loose in New York City.  He meets a man named Sal Paradise who is a writer with a highly intriguing and intelligent bunch of friends.

Sal is somewhat infatuated with the idea of Dean, and they become extremely close friends.  Over the next three years, Sal and Dean make many trips across the country to see one another and encounter many different, extremely colorful, characters.

They travel east and west and even as far south as New Orleans and Mexico.  Along the journey, Sal and Dean get into a lot of trouble, work odd jobs to fund their trips, and form various relationships.

The real story here lies in the details, not in the plot itself.  The characters, the various settings, the personal growth, and the relationships that are formed and broken are what make the story special.

Dean is reckless and spontaneous, a womanizer, and a man who cannot seem to find himself no matter how hard he looks.  He falls in love quickly and out of love just as quickly, marries various women, has children all over the country, and leaves as fast as he came.

Dean is a drifter and will always be just that, whereas Sal learns a lot about himself.  Sal was mightily intrigued by Dean and his spontaneous way of live when they first met, and, along the journey, he grows as a person.

Sal becomes confident in himself and his ability to truly live and survive in situations he never thought he would be in.  He becomes a much stronger man along the way and eventually finds love.

Sal Paradise

Sal is the narrator of the novel.  He idolizes his friend Dean and wishes he could have a bit of the madness that Dean has.  He is not critical of the morally questionable things that Dean does, but is rather in awe and admiring of him.

Sal has a thirst for madness, as he sees in the other characters, but the only way he can find that madness in himself is if he is under the influence of drugs and alcohol.  Sal feels as though he is only happy when surrounded by others and is decidedly different from Dean in that he does not want a physical relationship with a girl; he wants a soulful connection.

Sal grows as a person throughout the novel though never achieves the madness he so craves.  He does, however, meet a girl and fall in love.

Dean Moriarty

Dean is a reckless, morally skewed drifter whose only meaningful relationships come from his friendships with men, rather than his intimate relationships with women.  Dean is totally mad and has a thirst for knowledge that drives him to keep moving.

Time means a great deal to Dean, and he envies Gods because they have an understanding of time that he wishes he had.  He hopes to someday achieve this God-like status and master time so he never runs out.  He feels as though sex is the holiest thing on earth and, therefore, has many sexual relationships with women and fathers various children, though he never finds true happiness with any one woman.

Carlo Marx

It is hinted at that Marx may have a crush on Dean, as the real-life person he is based on (Allen Ginsberg) is openly gay.  Carlo Marx is socialist, rather funny, and often dark.  He writes poetry that is dark and sordid, and he is anything but light-hearted.

Sal believes that Carlo is the voice of reason in their friendship circle, as he is always looking for a reason behind the actions of Dean and the other characters who often act with reckless abandon.  When the characters cannot, or will not, offer explanations for their actions it puts Carlo on the outskirts because he is the only one who is seemingly rational.

Bull Lee

Bull Lee is based on Kerouac’s friend William Burroughs who is also a beat writer.  Bull is a drug addict who happens to be the wisest person in the novel, lending to the assumption that drugs offer knowledge, understanding, and enlightenment.

Bull seems to be the only person who truly understands how crazy Dean is.  He tells Sal that he needs to get away from Dean as quickly as possible because he is getting madder by the minute only Sal does not see any harm in it, only intrigue.  The fact that a drug addict would make such an astute observation only shows how far gone Dean really is.

Camille

Camille is Dean’s second wife, the one he eventually ends up with, and Sal’s favorite.  Sal counts Camille as his favorite because she is the only one who seems to genuinely love Dean enough to hold out hope for him.

Dean repeatedly cheats on Camille, walks all over her, leaves her, and returns to do it all again, yet Camille is always there.  She sticks around no matter what he does to her and seems to truly and unconditionally love him.  Though Dean ends up with Camille at the end, the cycle of their relationship suggests that he will only cheat and leave her again.

Marylou

Dean’s first wife and the only one who actually knows and understands Dean.  Marylou understands that Dean is crazy, totally mad, and she knows that she cannot hold on to someone like that.

Marylou cannot stay with Dean because while she understands his madness, she also understands that he is too mad for her, and they will never be happy together.  Marylou is the only of Dean’s wives that is as sexually adventurous as he is, having no qualms with the idea of having sex with Sal while Dean watches them.

Remi Boncoeur

Remi is the center of conflict at the beginning and end of the novel.  When Remi is introduced to the novel, Sal states that he stole his first wife from Remi.  Later, Sal has a crush on Remi’s girlfriend LeeAnn, but he is not willing to get in between Remi and a girl again; also LeeAnn turns out to be money hungry and constantly berates Remi for having none.

Sal loathes Remi’s relationship and uses it as a blueprint for everything he does not want in his own relationship, just in case he ever gets into a meaningful one.  Remi and Dean hash it out at the end of the novel because Remi is a rational human being who is not equipped to deal with a crazy person like Dean.

Sal is forced to decide between Remi and Dean, and he chooses Remi, though he does say that it was a particularly tough decision.

Sal’s Aunt

Sal’s aunt serves as a maternal figure throughout the novel.  When Sal, Dean, and their various friends are on cross-country treks Sal’s aunt always gives them a place to stay and feeds them.  She acts as their protector, often keeping them out of trouble despite their various wrongdoings.  In one particular scene Sal’s aunt pays for a traffic ticket that the boys got to keep them from getting arrested, which they inevitably would have because they did not have money to pay it themselves.  Sal lives with his aunt in New Jersey and on Long Island when he is not on one of his trips and she sends him money when he is on the road.  She is uncommonly kind and supportive to Sal and his friends.

Roland Major

Roland is a friend of Sal’s who lives in Denver.  While Sal is in Denver, he stays with Roland for a time.  Major is a writer who enjoys frightfully dark literature like that of Ernest Hemingway.  He has no respect for people who appear to be too artsy, possibly because those who try to hard usually aren’t.

Major is extremely uppity and quite the snob and has an interest in fine wines.  He enjoys talking about how well-refined he is and has a problem with the rowdy behavior of Dean and his buddies.  Major is a bit of a buzzkill for the other characters.

Ed Dunkel

Ed is a remarkably close friend of Sal and Dean and is married to a woman named Galatea.  Ed treats his wife poorly though she stays with him regardless.  He marries her only so she will fund the trip he is taking cross-country with the boys, and as soon as she does so he leaves her at a motel in Tucson.

Ed is exceptionally tall, not terribly bright, and Dean likes him because he will do anything Dean asks of him.  Ed has certain visions that make him saintlike in Sal’s eyes, almost on the same level as Dean whom he idolizes.

Galatea Dunkel

Galatea is Ed’s newlywed wife whom he uses for money and has little respect for.  She is extremely serious, uptight, and disapproving of Ed’s behavior, especially when he is around Dean and Sal.  Galatea stays with her husband through some difficult situations and throughout various cases of him leaving her.

While many women are intimidated by Dean, Galatea is not.  She is not afraid to tell Dean exactly what she thinks of him.  Sal at first thinks of Galatea as a loser for staying with Ed regardless of his mistreatment of her, but eventually realizes she stays with him because she loves him, which Sal respects though he does feel sorry for her.

Terry

Terry is a Mexican migrant worker who Sal meets in California and spends a few months with.  She has a son and an abusive husband who she is trying to escape from.  Sal spends a lot of time in the fields with Terry and her family.

Terry and Sal do not have any real feelings for one another, but neither of them likes to be alone so they would rather be together.  Sal mistakes companionship for love and the time they spend together is a delightful break from solitude for him.  Sal, always striving to be more like Dean, abandons Terry after just a short amount of time, as Dean does with every woman he “loves”.

Inez

Inez is Dean’s third wife.  Dean meets Inez in New York while he is still married to Camille and lives with her for a while.  Dean leaves Inez after she has his child to go to Mexico with Sal but comes back to her once he is divorced from Camille.

Throughout Dean and Inez’s relationship, he cheats on her with Camille whenever he gets to San Francisco.  Inez does not stand for the cheating, yet she marries him anyway.  The day after they are married Dean decides to leave her for good and go back to Camille.

Jane Lee

Jane is the wife of Bull Lee and a Benzedrine addict.  Sal, being on the search for the perfect woman and the perfect relationship dissects every relationship she sees, and he believes that Bull and Jane have the best one he has seen.

The Lees appear to have a decidedly soulful connection with one another and spend all of their time together, never talking about anything that has no meaning.  They are both junkies so this could contribute to their connection.  Sal describes in detail how Jane’s addiction has caused her body to decay over years of abuse.

Victor

Victor becomes a close friend of Sal, Stan, and Dean while they are Mexico.  Victor does not speak English, but that does not stop him from becoming close friends with Dean, because Dean can make friends with anyone and does not need verbal communication to do so.

Sal has a dream that Dean can communicate with Victor through a psychic connection.  All three boys become friends with Victor, but Dean’s connection to him is the strongest of all.  Victor provides the guys with hookers and drugs while they are in Mexico.

Friendship

Friendship is an overriding theme in this novel because it is the basis.  Sal sees Dean not only as his best friend, but as his idol.  He wants to be just like Dean and is extremely intrigued at the way Dean lives his life and how he views it.

As Sal grows as a person and Dean stays the same, the dynamic of their friendship changes and almost falters.  Dean is friends with people based on what he can learn from them, like his relationship with Carlo Marx, which he is involved in because he values his mind and what he can learn from him.

Restlessness

Restlessness is a common feature in the beat generation.  Sal and Dean are young people who do not know what they want in life, do not know how to get it, and set out on a journey to find it by having fun, gaining life experience, and expanding their minds.

Sal and Dean constantly feel the need to keep moving to find what they are looking for, though no matter how much they keep moving they cannot seem to find a happy ending.  The characters constantly move through relationships to find a place they are happy but the movement is futile.

Sadness

Sadness is a trait that is often found in the beat generation.  Sal is the saddest character because he cannot find happiness.  He finds that whenever he is alone he is sad, but he is also sad when he is in a relationship.  He finds that the only time he is happy is when he is involved in intellectual conversation with someone, and he finds that most of his relationships with women are nothing more than physical.  Most male/female relationships throughout the novel are tied to sadness in a way, as is the music of the period which was mostly jazz blues.

Sex

Sex is a prominent theme in this novel, particularly for the character of Dean Moriarty.  Dean has sexual relationships with various women whom he ends up falling in love with.  For Dean, lust and love are mutually inclusive concepts he feels that when he has a powerful sexually relationship with a woman, he loves her and must then marry her.

Dean falls in love as quickly as he falls out of it which explains his string of failed marriages and children that he has left behind.  Sal feels exactly the opposite, where he would like a relationship with a woman that is more intellectual than sexual.

Substance Abuse

Drugs and alcohol drive most of the actions throughout the novel.  The characters often put their highest priority on getting high rather than eating.  In the beat generation, drug use was becoming more prevalent than ever before and to these characters it was no exception.

Drugs and alcohol are a point of bonding and open the door to the intellectual and personal discussions that the men crave.  Without these substances, many of the relationships that occur in the novel would make no sense, or never happen at all.  The dreams and goals that Sal has when he is high or drunk are those of Dean when he is sober, showing again how Sal idolizes Dean.

Religion and Spirituality

Throughout the novel, there are many references to spiritualism and God.  According to Dean, there is nothing holier than sex and certain musicians are God to him because of their sense of time.  In Sal’s mind, there is nothing holier than a spiritual and intellectual connection with a women, rather than sex.

The characters often have dreams that are based on religious figures or have appearances of God.  The characters often have hallucinations when they are high that leads them to question religion and spirituality and wonder what it all means to them in the scheme of things.

Intelligence

The need for intellectual conversation and the expression of knowledge and wisdom is particularly beneficial to the characters in the novel, and the basis for their friendship with one another.  The characters believe that one should learn through life experiences, rather than through books.

Drug abuse seems to go hand in hand with wisdom, as Bull Lee who is arguably the wisest character is a drug addict.  The characters become friends with one another because of their thirst for knowledge and desire to learn; Sal wishes to learn to be more like Dean, slightly crazy, and Dean wishes to become more intellectual.

Madness

Dean is utterly mad, as is demonstrated often throughout the novel and is one of his most endearing traits.  Madness is the quality that attracts Sal to Dean, and the quality that Sal most wishes he possessed.

Dean’s madness is attributed to drugs, alcohol, jazz music, failed relationships, religion, and a constant thirst for knowledge.  Sal admires Dean’s madness, but Dean believes that Sal is a little mad too, only on a different level, and the reason they can be friends is because they both wish to learn from each other’s madness.

Culture

During the beat generation, culture and art are hugely important concepts and a driving force within this novel.  Sal spends time berating those who he sees as artsy, never realizing that he and his friends may be seen as artsy to others.

Music is indispensable to the characters and to the culture of the time period and is often seen as a religious experience.  The thirst for knowledge, and the fact that some of the characters are, or will become, beat writers and poets, makes them all artsy whether they wish to be or not.  The characters drink in the culture of the period and actively participate in it with a desire to soak in as much as possible.

Time

Time is an increasingly prominent concept to the characters, especially to Dean.  As time goes by and the characters are not finding what they are looking for, or figuring out who they are, they begin to freak out that they are running out of time.  They begin to fear that death is closing in on them, and they are going to die without accomplishing anything.

The term “beat generation” could also mean to beat time.  Dean feels as though only Gods can truly know and understand time, and his main goal in life is to reach this height of wisdom and knowledge.

The novel begins with the narrator, Sal Paradise, explaining how he met Dean Moriarty.  Dean has just moved to New York with his wife, Marylou, after being released from reform school.  Dean is full of energy and obviously quite crazy.  He is interested in learning as much as possible and is the most intellectual uneducated person that Sal has ever met.

As a writer, and as an envious person, Sal finds Dean to be highly intriguing.  Marylou has Dean arrested and leaves him to go back to Denver and Dean moves in with Sal at Sal’s aunts house and begins working in a parking lot.  Dean meets Sal’s friend Carlo Marx who is a poet and another strong personality.

Dean and Carlo hit it off immediately and spend the next two weeks constantly together where Dean expresses his excitement over his life in New York and his desire to write, to learn as much as possible, and to hook up with many different women.  Sal thinks Dean and Carlo are fascinating and the epitome of what it is to be Beat.

Eventually Dean decides that he must head west to get back to his life there.  Shortly after, Sal decides it is time to thoroughly live his life, away from college, and heads west, as well.  He wishes to take Route 6 all the way to the west coast and begins hitching in Chicago after purchasing a bus ticket to take him there.

After Sal’s first couple of days on the road, he wakes up in a hotel room after catching up on some sleep and realizes that he no longer has any idea who he is.  He is not upset about this change or regretful of what he is doing he just no longer recognizes himself through his actions, which was the goal of the trip.  He is searching for life experience to finish his novel, and that is exactly what he is getting.

Sal meets another hitcher named Eddie who he sticks with for a few days.  They journey through a couple of states together but as soon as a ride comes along that can only take one of them Eddie takes the opportunity and leaves Sal behind without ever looking back.

Sal jumps on a flatbed truck that is full of various hitchers who are headed toward Los Angeles.  He is in heaven being surrounded by so many different types of people who are all living a spontaneous life for the summer, and he makes fast friends with Mississippi Gene, who he shares a common friend with, and Montana Slim.

When the truck gets into Wyoming, Sal and Montana Slim decide to jump off to explore the Wild West festival that is going on in the town.  Sal and Montana Slim mingle with the locals, get drunk, and chase women and Sal leaves the festival with one.

Sal regrets for a moment the situation that he is in when he is falling asleep on a bus stop bench in the middle of nowhere, drunk and broke.  When he wakes up he finds that Montana Slim is gone, and he decides it is time to make his way to Denver to see his friends.

When Sal arrives in Denver, he contacts his friend Chad King who picks him up and learns that Chad is no longer friends with Dean and Carlo.  Sal wonders if he should stick with Chad’s group of friends or go off to find Dean and Carlo.  He hangs out at Chad’s for a while so he can rest and think things over.

The reader learns a little about Dean’s past in this chapter.  His father was an alcoholic and Dean was a troubled child, primarily a delinquent, who was sent to reform school when he was caught stealing cars.  Sal moves into an apartment that is owned by his friend Tim Gray and settles into the city making new friends and coming into contact with some old ones.

Carlo tracks down Sal and Sal learns that Carlo and Dean have been doing a lot of drugs and sleeping remarkably little.  Dean and Marylou are divorcing, and Dean is sleeping with as many women as possible.

Sal visits Dean’s apartment, where he answers the door naked, and Dean decides he must take Sal out on the town to meet some women.  They do meet some women and wish to take them back to Sal’s place, but Sal’s roommate Roland Major who is a bit snobby will not let them in the apartment.

Sal is now totally broke and has no idea what his next move should be.  Sal’s hitchhiking friend Eddie contacts him looking for work and Dean gets them jobs at the market.  Sal does not show up for work, however, he is spending him time exploring the nightlife, listening to Carlo’s poetry readings, and basically spying on Dean in everything that he does because Sal finds him fascinating.

Carlo and Dean are planning a trip to San Francisco, but Sal decides to head into the mountains with Tim, Babe, and Ray Rawlins.  They find a shack to throw parties in, which eventually is bombarded by frat boys, and Sal decides that he may want to go to San Francisco with Carlo and Dean.

When the boys get back into Denver, Sal learns that Carlo and Dean were in the mountains the whole time.  Dean sets Sal up with a woman named Rita Bettencourt, and they have awkward sex and conversation about life in general.  Before he leaves for San Francisco Sal takes a last walk through Denver, gets his shirt back from Eddie, and picks up money his aunt has wired to him.  Dean tells Sal that he and Carlo may meet him in San Francisco.

When Sal finally arrives in San Francisco, he meets with Remi Boncoeur, an old friend of his.  Remi lives with his girlfriend LeeAnn and Sal thinks they have a terrible relationship.  Sal decides he must get a job and decides to work security at the shipyard with Remi.  Most of the other men who work there are retired cops and Sal and Remi end up causing more trouble than preventing it.  They get drunk with the sailors, raise an American flag upside down, break into the room of the Barracks supervisor, and steal food from the cafeteria because as Remi says, President Truman wants to cut down on the cost of living.

Sal spends most of his time exploring the night life, trying to find a woman, and scaring the gay men who try to hit on him in bathrooms.  He and Remi and LeeAnn spend a lot of time gambling,and after a particularly grievous loss, Remi gets in a fight with LeeAnn and decides to break up with her and also sever his friendship with Sal.  He asks that Sal and LeeAnn pretend that all is well in front of his stepfather, which they agree to, but Sal gets drunk with Roland Major and ruins the entire night.  Remi is officially done with Sal after this moment.  Sal feels that it is probably time for him to head back to New Jersey.

Sal heads down to Los Angeles and meets a Chicano girl named Terry who works in the fields with her family.  Terry is married but trying to escape her abusive husband and has a small son who works with her.  Terry and Sal get drunk together, talk about the future and feel as though they are in love with one another, Sal even wants Terry to move back east with him.

Sal and Terry go everywhere from Los Angeles to Mexico with Ricky and Terry’s son and try to find work, though no one will hire them.  Sal gets a job picking cotton in Mexico to support Terry and her son who he lives in a tent with and considers his family at this point.

It gets too cold out after a few months to live out in the tent anymore so Sal brings Terry and her son back to their family where they part ways.  With fifty dollars that Sal has wired from his aunt he makes his way back to the east coast.  When Sal finally makes it back to his aunt’s house, he learns that Dean had just been there to stay a few days earlier though he was now headed to San Francisco to stay with his new girl, Camille.  Sal settles in to his writing once again.

It has been a year since Sal returned home, and he has finally finished his novel.  He has been writing to Dean and learns that he will be returning to the east coast sometime soon.  Sal and his aunt spend the holidays in Virginia visiting family and happen to see Dean, Marylou, and Ed Dunkel pull up on a car.

Dean tells Sal that he had been living with Camille in San Francisco for a year where he and Ed worked for the railroad.  Dean spent all of his savings on the car, and Ed married a girl named Galatea just so she would pay for their road trip.  Her money only took them as far as Tucson so they left her in a hotel there.  Dean reunited with Marylou, determined to make their relationship work this time.

The group grabs supplies, stocks Dean’s car with furniture they are taking for Sal’s aunt, and head back to New Jersey with it.  Sal tells his friends he has been seeing a girl named Lucille, and he is thinking of settling down with her, though he knows that the travel bug is hitting him again.

When they finally make it back to New Jersey and get some rest Sal gets a phone call from Galatea Dunkel, Ed’s wife.  She says that she is in New Orleans, and Sal tells her that they will stop and pick her up on their way back west.  The group meets up with Carlo Marx who is obviously a different person than he was back in Denver.  Carlo tells them that he took a trip to Africa and regales them with stories.

The boys eat quickly and head back to Virginia to get Sal’s aunt, and, on the trip, they have intense conversations about religion, saints, and mysticism.  On the way back to New Jersey, they get pulled over and Sal’s aunt pays the ticket for them, knowing they will not.  Her talks about the way women are treated by men cause Sal and Dean to reflect on what little they know and understand about women.

Sal, Dean, and Ed decide that they must find a place to live in New York and have intense discussions about death and the desire to die an honorable death, not a boring one.  When the group spends New Year’s in New York their relationships begin to fall apart.  Lucille does not like the person Sal is when he is with Dean she sees him as someone who is becoming crazy and wants him to stay with her though he wants to travel.

Marylou knows that when they go back to the west coast Dean is going to leave her for Camille once again and tries to get with Sal instead, but to no avail.

Dean and Sal visit a jazz club where they see a blind pianist play and Dean is especially entranced by the music.  Both men are affected by what they are hearing, and also by the pot they are smoking, but Dean sees the musician as God-like.  When the pianist gets up, Dean calls the seat he was in “God’s empty chair”.  Sal decides that he will go back west with Dean because he wants to see what Dean will do when he gets back there.  He also wants to get with Marylou on the rebound when Dean reunites with Camille, which he inevitably will.

The men meet up with Carlo who is now much more mature than they are and lectures them about where they are going in life.  They leave him, and Dean asks Sal if he will have sex with Marylou while he watches so he can see what she is like having sex with another man.  Sal tries but tells Dean that he is not into it and would like to wait until they get back west.  Dean sleeps with her instead and Sal feels as though Dean must do this to feel what life is about.

Sal calls his friend Bull Lee who lives in New Orleans and has been taking care of Galatea and tells him that they will be there to pick her up soon.  They set out again doing the thing they do best, moving.  They are all tremendously excited at the fun they are going to have in New Orleans, and everyone is in excellent spirits.

Dean and Marylou make plans to continue their relationship behind Camille’s back when they get to California, and Sal sadly realizes that he will not get his chance with Marylou.  The group stops in D.C. on inauguration day and are pulled over by the cops who accuse them of trafficking Marylou for prostitution.  They eventually only fine Dean but still Sal rants about cops invading people’s privacy and creating crimes that were not committing just for the sake of punishing people.

Eventually, a few hitchhikers and much stolen gas and cigarettes later, the group reaches New Orleans.  They reach Bull Lee’s house and Ed and Galatea are reunited.  Bull Lee is a drug addict and a schizophrenic who works odd jobs to support his and his wife’s drug habits.  Bull is around crazy people all the time in New Orleans but feels as though Dean is one of the craziest he has met.

Bull’s wife Jane has a nasty Benzedrine habit and is slowly deteriorating because of it.  Sal finds Jane and Bull’s relationship to be refreshing and something that he is looking forward to having someday.  The group heads to the French Quarter to hit a dull bar and on the ferry on the way back to Bull’s house a girl kills herself.  When they return, Marylou cannot take enough drugs to quench her desire and everyone else smokes weed and gets drunk.

In the morning, Bull shares his views on government conspiracies, his possible cure for cancer, his relatives who may be crazier than he is, and his belief that someday soon people will be able to speak with those who are dead.  Later in the day everyone competes in athletic competitions at the Lee house, and Dean wins every one of them.

The group decides to leave the Lees and New Orleans and head out west.  As they are driving away Sal muses that it is strange watching people as they become tiny specs in the distance as the car drives away.  On the way out of town, they steal food, gas, and cigarettes and go about their journey.

They drive through Texas, and some bad weather, get their car stuck in the mud and are nearly killed by a car full of drunks who run them off the road.  Marylou begins to talk to Sal about San Francisco and the possibility of them having a relationship when they get there, but it is probable that she is merely securing a backup plan for when Dean leaves her for Camille again.  Dean convinces Marylou to get naked and run through the fields of sage with him and then they all get back into the front seat of the car and continue on.

Marylou makes an attempt to come on to Sal again, and he turns her down.  She tells him that she loves Dean but knows he will leave her as always.  Sal decides he will look up his friend Hingham who owed him five dollars when they reach Tucson and in the meantime he pawns his pocket watch for a dollar to buy gas.

When they meet up with Hingham, he gives Sal his money and also feeds them before they set out again.  Sal again notices his friends getting smaller in the distance as they drive away.  They pick up a hitcher who says he will give them money in Bakersfield, and he does.  Once in California Dean goes off to find Camille and Sal and Marylou get a hotel room.

Sal realizes nothing is going to happen with them and allows his mind to wander to thoughts of religion.  Marylou leaves Sal for a club owner and he ends up wandering around San Francisco all alone.  Sal meets up with Dean again and takes a job as a door-to-door salesman with him.

They tire quickly of living in the real world and start to go crazy once again, thirsting for adventure, after they see a performance by Sam Gaillard, a Jazz musician.  Sal starts to become abundantly overwhelmed by Dean and his madness and decides he must return to New York immediately and thinking it possible that he may never see Dean again.

In Spring 1946 Sal heads back to Denver.  None of Sal’s friends are living in Denver anymore, but he thinks about settling down there anyway.  He takes work at a fruit market and walks around hating the hand he was dealt in life.  He hates that he is white and would rather be any other race.  He knows a girl who is wealthy, and she gives him one hundred dollars to get to San Francisco on.

As soon as Sal gets to San Francisco he goes to see Dean.  Dean has been living with Camille and has a daughter with her and was just beginning to settle down finally.  Camille knows that the appearance of Sal will bring out the old Dean, and he will be mad once again.  Dean tells Sal about his life over the past year.

He smoked some bad weed which made him go crazy, and he pulled a gun on Marylou and told her that one of them must die.  She left him and married someone else after that.  Sal notices that Dean seems to care about nothing, as always, but also care about everything.  Sal tells Dean about the book he is getting published and they decide to go to Italy on the money from the book.

Sal and Dean decide to spend a couple more days in San Francisco before they leave and try to get into contact with some old friends.  Remi is no longer living in the same place; Ed has run out on Galatea again, so they take up with Galatea, a girl named Marie and Roy Johnson and his wife Dorothy.

The women get on Dean about his treatment of the Marylou and Camille.  Sal tries to convince them that Dean possesses the trait that everyone wishes they had and has found what everyone else is looking for.  He compares Dean to God and their group as his disciples.  It becomes clear that Sal is the only person who places Dean on the pedestal that he does as the women clearly do not agree with Sal’s assessment of him.

The group spends their last night together in San Francisco at a jazz club.  Sal believes he has never seen anyone with Dean’s intensity and compares him to the “tenorman” who is the person responsible for driving the music for the entire club.  Sal and Dean leave the club with the tenorman and his son and go to another club.

The musician at this club strongly reminds Sal and Dean of Carlo Marx.  Roy takes them to another club and Sal and Dean end up going home with a musician to chat and drink some more.  The next morning the boys get their things from Galatea’s house and head out on the journey back to New York.

When the boys hitch their first ride, Dean explains to Sal was “it” is.  He tells Sal that the tenorman the night before had “it” and “it” is a means of being out of body and having a command of time and the soul.  Sal and Dean both feel that they have “it”, though obviously they do not or they would not be in constant motion looking for something to make them feel.  They discuss their childhoods and the driver of the car, who is gay, tries to come on to Dean.

Dean does not accept him advances, but he does convince the driver to allow him to drive the following day.  Dean’s driving is reckless, as is everything about his life, and he scares the others in the care.

Dean and Sal do not seem to notice the reactions of the other passengers because they are deep in conversation about the meaning of life.  Eventually the car makes it to Denver, where Dean and Sal are left on the side of the road.

Sal and Dean stop at a diner in Denver where Dean makes a joke about Sal being old.  Sal gets terribly upset with Dean, and it causes Dean to cry.  Sal feels terrible for making Dean cry and realizes, yet again, that he does not know who he is anymore.

The guys stay with some Okies that Sal knows while they await the arrival of Dean’s cousin Sam.  Sam is one of the only members of Dean’s family that he has genuine love and respect for, and one of the only members to ever be affectionate toward Dean.

Sal assumes that they are going to run some sort of scam on Sam for money, drugs, or a ride, but Dean tells Sal that he really just wants to catch up.  When Sam arrives he drives the guys around but tells Dean that the only reason he actually came is to get Dean to sign a piece of paper that will cut him out of Sam’s will.

Sal feels guilty for being the only person who believes in Dean, but Dean still seems happy about the stories from the past that Sam reminisces about.  Sam drops the boys off and they go to a carnival where Dean is pretty sure he is in love with a woman who is only three feet tall, though he cannot muster up the nerve to speak to her.  Back at the Okies’ home Dean develops a crush on their thirteen year old daughter, as he has a thing for young girls.

Dean begins to go totally crazy and starts stealing things.  He starts with stealing a softball and after a night of drinking he moves on to stealing cars. He steals multiple cars throughout the night, leaving the last one in the front yard at the Okies’ house before he passes out.  The next day the cops come investigating because one of the cars he stole belonged to a cop.  Sal tells Dean that they must dump the car so no one knows it was him.

Dean realizes that his fingerprints are already on file and decides that it is time to leave so he and Sal pack their things and head out again, though they are sad to leave the Okies.  The boys head to the travel bureau to catch a ride, fearing the cab they called is a cop.  They take a job driving a man’s limo to Chicago, and Dean wants to pick up women with it, but Sal is skeptical.  Dean has sex with one woman in the back of it then picks up a couple boys that are hitching and takes them toward Chicago with him.

On the way to Chicago, Dean breaks the speedometer in the car because he is driving too fast and reckless.  Dean decides to head to his friend Ed Wall’s ranch and on the way crashes the limo into a ditch.  When they arrive at Ed’s house,Dean tries to convince him that Sal is rich, and the limo belongs to him, but Ed does not believe them and thinks that Dean has probably stolen the limo.

Sal is beginning to realize that he certainly is the last person who has any faith in Dean.  When the boys continue on their way Dean drives recklessly, over one hundred miles per hour once again.  The boys are excited to get to Chicago, but Sal cannot stand the way Dean is driving any longer and gets into the back seat so he does not have to watch.

In Iowa Dean gets into a small accident, thinks that things are ok with the other driver, and heads off again.  Shortly after they are pulled over by a cop who says the other driver reported a hit and run.  After the owner of the limo is called, the mess is straightened out, and the boys are set to be on their way yet again.

Dean continues to drive like a maniac, narrowly avoiding multiple accidents, and when the boys arrive at Chicago Sal realizes that they made it there in only seventeen hours.  Sal and Dean stop at a YMCA to clean up, and they head out on the town.  They go to a jazz club where they follow one band around until mid-morning.

The next day they listen to George Shearing play he is the musician that Dean said was like God when they were in San Francisco.  The next morning they return the limo and hurry away before anyone notices the horrendous condition it is in.  The boys take a bus to Detroit where Sal meets a country girl who is alone, and they talk about life.  She seems to have no plans, nor does her family and Sal thinks that she seems to be lost.

Later, in a movie theater, Sal decides that he is a waste of life.  They hitch a ride back to New York with a guy from the travel bureau who charges them each four dollars, and they head to see Sal’s aunt who has now moved to Long Island.

At a party, Sal introduces Dean to a woman named Inez who he seems really into.  Inez ends up pregnant with his child as is Camille and both women are giving birth at basically the same time.  At this point, Dean is father to four different children all over the country.  With no job to support his children and no money, Dean and Sal decide it is not the right time to go to Italy.

Sal has sold his book and made some money off of it, and Dean is living with Inez and working at a parking garage in New York City.  Sal decides it is time to take another trip, though this time he is going to leave alone and leave Dean behind in the domestic life.

Dean pays Sal’s aunt the money he owes her from the speeding ticket she paid and she cooks them a big dinner.  She tells Dean that he should stay with Inez and settle down instead of running off with Sal again.  Dean tells Sal that they should become old bums together, and Sal says he hopes they can live down the street from each other one day, taking care of their families, which exactly what they had been trying to avoid for years now.

Sal hops on a bus that takes him south and meets a man named Henry Glass who has just gotten out of prison.  Sal turns Henry into his new travel companion, and they head to Denver together where Sal still has friends.  Once they arrive in Denver Henry’s brother starts him at a job to keep him on the straight and narrow.  They meet up with Tim Gray and Stan Shepard and start planning a trip to Mexico.

The boys visit the local jazz clubs as they plan their excursion and Sal hears that Dean is on his way to Denver to join them and to drive Sal to Mexico.  Sal has a vision of Dean as a “shrouded traveler” who travels all over the country leaving death and destruction everywhere he goes, which is kind of true.

Sal is not too happy that Dean is joining him because he wants Dean to take care of his children.  Dean has just spent all of his money on a car which means there is no money left for him to care for his children with.  Dean’s arrival means the entire trip much change slightly.

When Dean finally arrives, Sal is not as upset as he thought he would be.  They fall right into step as Dean being the mad one and Sal following him everywhere he goes, admiring him, because he cannot help himself.  They visit Ed and Galatea and learn that they are thinking of settling down and starting a family.

No one is impressed with Dean’s antics any longer, not do they find his madness fun and refreshing, they just look annoyed with him and slightly uncomfortable.  Sal and Dean continue to get rip-roaring drunk, and Sal punches a wall causing him to break a finger.  The next day Sal, Dean, and Stan leave for their Mexico trip, where Dean is sure they will finally find “it”.  Barely into their trip Stan is stung in the arm by some sort of bug and the boys decide they must take him to a hospital.

On the way, they share stories in great detail, about their lives and Stan’s experiences in Europe.  At the hospital, Stan gets a shot of penicillin then Dean sets out to find a pool hall.  Finally at three in the morning the boys enter Mexico, excited and turn their money into pesos.  They are happy and awed to see that Mexico looks exactly as they thought it would.

Sal and Dean feel as though they have found exactly what they have been looking for, the true roots of the beat life.  They love everything that is surrounding them and are hugely excited to discover all they possibly can.

They meet a man named Victor while they are in Gregoria and he tells them that he will hook them up with pot and girls while they are there.  His mother grows the pot herself and Victor rolls a joint bigger than the boys have ever seen which gets them exceptionally high.

Victor takes the guys to find girls and on the way Sal begins to hallucinate where he has visions of Dean as God, and FDR.  After the group meets Victor’s young son,they all have a stab of pining for the domestic life.  Quickly over that feeling, the boys head toward the brothel.

At the brothel, they are treated like royalty.  The guys get to know the various girls and drink and party with them as the people of the town watch through the windows.  Sal has the opportunity to have sex with a few different girls but instead just wants to see them naked and give them money that he feels they desperately need.  He is again feeling the paternal instinct that he has been feeling most of the trip and decides that he does not want to use the girls, and he feels like he may be in love with the sad fifteen year old one.  The boys eventually decide it is time to leave after their tab has reached nearly $40.  The girls and the people of the town cheer for them as they are leaving.

When they leave the car lights are not working so they begin to drive through the jungle in the dark.  When the lights finally come on they are in awe of their surroundings.  The boys decide to pull over the sleep in the car for the night, but Sal is so in tune with his environment he decides to sleep on the hood of the car.  When Sal wakes he sees a white horse come out of the jungle then disappear back in it.

Dean feels as though Sal was probably dreaming, but he remembers dreaming a white horse too so maybe it was real.  Sal sees all of the bugs at his feet and the blood he is covered in from getting eaten alive by bugs all night and freaks out a little.

On the way to Mexico City, they drive through the mountains where they meet some Indians.  Dean is in awe of the little Indian children who are selling crystals on the side of the road.  He is obsessed with the differences in their culture and that of the typical white man and is heartbroken by leaving them behind.

Dean gives one of the girls his pocket watch, and Sal compares him to a prophet.  Once the boys reach Mexico City they realize it is a true city that never sleeps, it is in constant motion and they spend the entire night walking around and drinking in their surroundings.  Sal gets terribly sick, and they discover that he has dysentery.  While Sal is on his sick bed, Dean tells him that he is going to get a quick divorce from Camille and move to New York to be with Inez.  Stan decides to stay with Sal until he gets better and Sal is annoyed with Dean for leaving him, though he understand that Dean lives a complicated life.

In part five Dean moves back to New York and marries Inez, though the next day he has a bit of a freak out and jumps on a bus back to San Francisco to live with Camille and their two children.  When Sal returns to New York he finally meets the girl he had spent so much time dreaming about, her name is Laura.

They wish to move to San Francisco together and write to Dean to tell him.  Dean responds with anunusually long letter telling them that he wants to come to New York and help them move, and to pick out the moving truck.  When Dean arrives he is too early because they do not have enough money saved up yet.

Dean wants to bring Inez back to San Francisco with him, where he lives with Camille, but Inez wants nothing to do with him anymore.  Sal knows that Dean will spend the rest of his life with Camille, and he is happy for them and for their life.  Remi shows up to take Sal and Laura to the opera, and Dean wants to ride in Remi’s car though Remi tells him no.

At this point, Sal must choose between Remi and Dean, or really, between Dean and the life that he has now.  Sal chooses Remi and watches Dean getting smaller and smaller out the back window of the car.  He thinks about Dean and the trips they took as sits on a pier in New Jersey.

After Old Yeller rescues Little Arliss from the bear, Travis begins to appreciate him and also realizes how much he loves his brother.  To make amends for the way he treated both Old Yeller and Little Arliss, Travis brings them squirrel hunting.  They get into a routine where Little Arliss spooks the squirrels, Old Yeller chases them up the tree, and Travis shoots them; they return home one night with five squirrels for dinner.  Old Yeller also helps Travis to catch and shoot a turkey which had been eating the family’s peas.  When Old Yeller never eats any of the meat he is offered at dinner, Travis and Mama begin to suspect that he is stealing food from somewhere, but they forget about it for a little while.

Bud Searcy comes to visit; he is the only man left behind because according to Mama if he went he would spend too much time socializing and mooching other people’s food.  Bud’s eleven-year-old granddaughter Lisbeth comes with him; Travis likes Lisbeth because she is more laid back than other girls, but he never looks directly at her because he feels her eyes go right through him.  Bud asks Mama how everything is going because he feels it is his responsibility to make sure all of the women and children are doing well.  He makes small talk, about the other families in the area and the weather, and then mentions that someone or thing has been stealing food from the settlement.  The people who live around the Salt Licks are ready to kill the thief if he, she, or it is caught and Travis worries because he knows it must be Old Yeller.  Lisbeth pulls Travis aside and tells him that she has seen Old Yeller stealing ribs and eggs, but she will not tell because her dog is pregnant by Old Yeller, so she does not want him to be killed.  Travis gives her an Indian arrowhead as a thanks, and he worries that someone else might see Old Yeller stealing.  He offers Old Yeller an egg from the henhouse and, when the dog refuses it, Travis tells him he hopes he gets caught.

Travis tells Mama that Lisbeth saw Old Yeller stealing.  Mama tells Travis to tie Old Yeller up at night, but the dog bites free of his restraints.  Mama does not want the dog to sleep in the room with Travis and Little Arliss because she worries they will get fleas or ringworm, but Travis insists and when he catches ringworm he treats it himself without telling Mama about it.  Travis and Old Yeller grow close, and Old Yeller proves to be a big help to Travis and also a good companion.  Travis realizes that his father was right; he does need a good dog by his side.

Mama hopes that the cow named Rose will have a heifer calf which will give as much milk as she does and she is delighted when Rose does birth a heifer calf, which they call Spot.  Spot turns out to be quite wild and one day she comes up missing.  Mama thinks that Spot probably had a calf of her own and has holed herself up somewhere with the baby.  Travis goes looking for Spot, and when they find her, sure enough she has just given birth to a calf.  He throws rocks at Spot to try to get her to come out of hiding but all she does it charge at him with her horns until he runs off.  Travis goes back to the house to get Old Yeller, and when they return the dog runs around the cow, bites her on the nose, and plows into her until she falls over a couple times.  Finally, Travis is able to coax Spot home though she will not allow him to milk her until he places Old Yeller right in her face; she obviously does not want to go against the dog again.  Spot allows Travis to milk her, and, within days, she is broken to be a milking cow; Mama is very impressed.  It is not long before a man shows up at the house claiming that Old Yeller is his dog.

Burn Sanderson is the man who claims that Old Yeller belongs to him; he had told Bud Searcy that his dog was missing, and Bud had told him that Travis had the dog.  Mama tells Travis to go get Old Yeller and Travis is upset that Bud Searcy told Burn where the dog was.  Travis goes to get Old Yeller from down by the creek where he is playing with Little Arliss, and when he returns with the dog Burn Sanderson looks genuinely upset that he is taking the dog from the boys.  He offers to allow the family to keep the dog until Papa returns but Mama refuses because she believes the longer they have Old Yeller the harder it will be to let him go.  Burn Sanderson ties Old Yeller up and gets on the horse to leave when Little Arliss, finally catching on to what is happening, begins to yell and throw rocks at the man.  Rather than being upset Burn Sanderson smiles and goes to talk to Little Arliss; he tells the boy that they can keep the dog if Mama will make him a nice home-cooked meal.  Travis is very happy, and Mama makes a grand meal for Burn, which he is very appreciative of.  Burn Sanderson pulls Travis aside and tells him to watch out for hydrophobia, which is going around.  If Travis sees any animal that is acting strangely he must shoot it right away, rather than giving them any time to bite or scratch because then it will be too late.  Travis is fearful of this news, but he vows to protect his family at all costs.  The man places his hand on Travis’ shoulder before he leaves, just as Papa would do, and Travis is so scared of the hydrophobia that he forgets to thank Burn Sanderson for allowing them to keep Old Yeller.

The night that Burn Sanderson tells Travis about the plague of hydrophobia Travis has trouble sleeping, but when he wakes in the morning he has forgotten about the plague and is ready to take care of the hogs.  The hogs are all out on the range, and Travis needs to catch them, mark them, and castrate them one by one.  The hogs are wild and must fend for themselves. Therefore, they will eat other animals if they need to, or they will attack and eat people if they can.  Mama is nervous that Travis is going to be around the hogs, but Travis tells her that he will have Old Yeller with him so he will be fine, though she still worries.  Travis is not worried about the job because he and Papa had developed a method that worked pretty well and he hopes to stick with it as well as he can with Old Yeller; he needs Old Yeller to distract the hogs and chase them to the place where Travis needs them to be.  Travis picks an old oak tree as the place where he will mark the hogs, and he climbs up it.  Old Yeller’s job is to chase the hogs over to the tree, so Travis can rope them one at a time and hoist them up to him.  Travis marks the hogs on their ear with the marking that was assigned to his family; the markings help all of the settlers to know which hogs belong to which families.  The squealing of the pigs and the blood that drips from them after the castration angers the other pigs so when Travis is done he has to remain in the tree for another hour waiting for them to disperse.

When Travis marks the hogs, he keeps a piece each one’s ear, so he can be sure that he has marked all of them.  He thinks that he has marked them all but then Bud Searcy comes by and says there are hogs wandering around in bat cave country that Travis missed.  Travis knows where the caves are though he has never been there and decides to head out with Old Yeller in the morning.  The next morning, Travis and Old Yeller follow the hogs from the watering hole to the prickly-pear flats, where they are feeding, and Travis sees that there are five little pigs to mark.  Travis wants Old Yeller to get the pigs over to the mesquite tree, but the pigs hide under a dirt bank instead.  Travis must improvise so he uses the dirt bank above the cave as he would use a tree and lies on it to rope the pigs below him.  He gets one pig, but when he goes for a second one the bank breaks under his weight, and he falls onto a group of angry hogs.  Travis gets up and tries to run, but the hogs are too quick for him, and he is slashed in the back of the calf by a tusk.  Travis is overcome with pain and knows he cannot move fast enough to get away.  Suddenly Old Yeller jumps in between Travis and the angry hogs and he is tossed around and injured while ensuring that Travis has time to get to safety.  Travis gets far enough away that he can wrap his leg and then he comes back to find Old Yeller.  The hogs have left, and Old Yeller is hiding under a slab of rock, badly injured.  When Travis finally coaxes the dog out of hiding, he becomes teary-eyed at Old Yeller’s condition; he has dozens of open wounds, and his belly is torn so badly that his intestines are showing.  Travis puts Old Yeller back beneath the rock and blocks off the opening with a piece of wood to keep Old Yeller from trying to follow him home and to keep the dog safe until he can bring Mama back to try to help the dog.  Travis limps away, and Old Yeller howls after him.

Travis is incredibly weak by the time that he gets home, and he is trembling with fever.  Mama tends to Travis’ wound with turpentine and wraps it in new bandages.  When Travis tells Mama they need to go get Old Yeller, Mama tells Travis that he cannot move anywhere on his leg for a week, but Travis will not stay home; he gets Jumper the mule ready to go and by the time he is ready to set out Mama has come outside ready to go and wearing her bonnet.  Mama does not want Travis to have to hold onto Old Yeller on the way home so she rigs a sort of sled out of cowhide for Jumper to drag the dog on.  When they reach bat country, there are buzzards swarming and Travis fears that Old Yeller may be dead.  Suddenly the buzzards seem to be spooked by something and Travis hears Old Yeller’s weak barking sounds.  Travis gets to the dog and sees his eye shining crazily but then when the dog recognizes his owner he calms down.  Travis and Mama examine Old Yeller’s wounds without allowing a very scared Little Arliss to see that he is hurt; Mama sends him off to catch a lizard to distract him.  Mama uses a hair from Jumper’s tail to sew up Old Yeller’s stomach and they place him gently on the cowhide, wrapped in clean rags.  On the way home, Mama tells Little Arliss to hold onto Old Yeller on the cowhide, pretending that he is sick and needs to be cared for.  The dog whimpers in pain on the way home and Travis’ leg swells but eventually they all make it.  Travis is happy to have brought Old Yeller home alive and is amazed that the dog is in good enough spirits to lick Little Arliss’ face.

It is a few weeks that Travis and Old Yeller are laid up, and both of them are in incredible pain and suffering from fevers.  Mama mixes up several antidotes for Travis and tries to feed him and Old Yeller whenever they will eat.  Mama ends up taking over all of the chores with Travis laid-up and Little Arliss is not much help to her because he is so young and gets bored easily.  Bud Searcy comes by one day with Lisbeth and a puppy.  Lisbeth asks Travis how he is feeling and, wanting to sound tough, Travis tells her that he is doing alright.  Lisbeth tells Travis she has a surprise for him, and she presents him with a speckled puppy.  Travis seems to hurt Lisbeth’s feelings when he tells her that the puppy will be perfect for Little Arliss, because she leaves him alone afterward.  Travis feels bad he just believes he already has a dog and once Old Yeller is better they will not want to wait around for a puppy to keep up with them; the puppy would be better for Little Arliss because it would entertain him.  Lisbeth gives the puppy to Little Arliss, and Travis sees her look in at him as she and Bud Searcy are leaving.  Bud Searcy then tells Mama that since her husband is gone and Travis cannot help with chores he will leave Lisbeth to help out.  Mama wonders if the little girl will be of much help, but Bud Searcy assures her that Lisbeth is very tough and willing to help out.  As he leaves he tells Lisbeth to behave herself.

Travis and Mama both believe that Lisbeth is too little to help out much around the house, but she proves the two of them wrong.  Lisbeth works hard at her chores without being asked and is always looking for more ways to help out.  Lisbeth and Little Arliss both help Mama to gather corn and though gathering corn is not usually a job that Travis likes to do he finds that he wishes he could be outside helping them.  Travis feels as though his pride is bruised when this little girl can come in and do all of his chores for him, but he takes some solace in knowing that she cannot mark the hogs or kill animals for meat.  One day, Spot does not show up for her milking and when she returns in the morning Travis calls to Mama that she is back; Mama goes out to see Spot, but quickly yells and runs back into the house.  Spot had turned on Mama and tried to attack her so Mama wonders if she ate a poisonous pea-vine and went crazy, but Travis thinks that she probably has hydrophobia.  Everyone watches Spot carefully over the next few days while she walks around in circles and ignores her calf.  The bull called Roany wanders into the yard also, acting just as strangely as Spot though seemingly weaker.  Old Yeller knows the family is danger when he sees the bull, and he growls because the bull is heading toward Little Arliss and Lisbeth.  Travis calls for Mama to get his gun, but Mama runs after the children instead.  The bull tries to run for Mama but falls over, giving Travis the opportunity to shoot him.

Travis and Mama know that they must bring the dead roan bull somewhere to burn the body because being so close to the house it may contaminate the drinking water.  However, they find that Jumper cannot drag the carcass, so they must gather wood to burn the body where it lies.  The fire is huge but still takes two and a half days to completely burn the body; when wolves smell the meat they are drawn to the area but stay away from the fire and from Old Yeller, who is acting as a guard.  Travis remembers that Bud Searcy’s brother contracted hydrophobia, and he wishes that Papa would return home soon.  Mama tells Travis that he must kill Spot as well, and they will have to burn the heifer’s body to be sure that the other cows are not infected.  Travis follows Spot until she is in a place where it will be safe to burn her body without the danger of lighting the woods on fire, and he kills her.  Travis’ leg is in pain when he returns to Mama tells him to rest, and she and Lisbeth go out to gather wood and burn Spot’s carcass.  Travis tells the reader that had he known what was going to happen next he would have tried harder to keep them at home that day.  Travis falls asleep and when he wakes he see Little Arliss playing with the puppy though Mama and Lisbeth have still not returned; he realizes that it probably took a long time to gather wood.  Travis knows that Papa should be coming home soon, and he wonders if Papa will be bringing him a horse.  He mostly wants Papa to come home because of the hydrophobic plague.

As darkness begins to set in, Travis gets worried about Mama and Lisbeth, but he realizes that the task at hand may have taken a while and he cannot think of anything that would be a danger to them.  Travis brings Little Arliss and the puppy inside, and they eat a couple bowls of cornmeal and milk together.  When Travis is putting Little Arliss to bed, he hears dogs fighting outside and hears Mama yell for him to make a light and come outside with his gun.  Travis makes a light out of bear grass and heads outside with his gun where he is horrified to see Old Yeller fighting with a large wolf which Mama says is mad.  Travis does not want to fire at the wolf right away because he fears hitting Old Yeller, but when the wolf gets on top of the dog Travis gets his chance, and he shoots.  The wolf is dead, and Old Yeller licks Travis’ hand; the two of them collapse onto the ground together, and Mama sits with them.  Mama tells Travis that they stopped for water at Birdsong Creek and the wolf almost got her, but she hit it in the head with a stick and then Old Yeller kept it distracted while Mama and Lisbeth got away on Jumper.  Mama tells Travis that they got lucky, but Old Yeller is not so lucky; Travis realizes that Mama is telling him that Old Yeller is probably going to be mad now, and he needs to be killed.  Mama offers to do the job for Travis, but once he realizes that she is right, he reluctantly and sadly calls Old Yeller to him and then shoots him in the head.

Travis is so sad about Old Yeller that he cannot eat, sleep, or cry and feels empty inside.  Travis spends a lot of time thinking about how Old Yeller helped his family and Mama tries to talk with Travis about it to make him feel better, but it does not work.  Lisbeth reminds Travis that the puppy is part of Old Yeller, but Travis only thinks that the puppy has not helped to keep his family alive like Old Yeller did; he feels bad for shooting his dog when he did not even do anything to deserve it.  Soon the rain comes, and the hydrophobic plague is washed away from the land.  Papa comes home in the morning, thinner than he was when he left but happy to have money and a horse for Travis.  Travis appreciates the horse, but Papa can tell something is wrong with him.  Papa gets the story from Mama, and after dinner, he walks down to the creek with Travis and tells him that he knows about Old Yeller.  He tells Travis that he did exactly the right thing, just as a grown man would do, and he is proud of him.  Papa tells Travis to think about the good parts of each situation because if he dwells on the bad then all of life will be bad.  Travis understands what his father is saying, but he is still sad.  A week later, Travis hears Mama yelling at the puppy for stealing cornbread, Little Arliss crying because Mama hit the puppy, and Papa laughing at the whole situation; Travis feels a little better.  When Travis returns from riding his horse he sees Little Arliss playing naked in the water with the puppy and Travis starts laughing uncontrollably.  He decides that he will bring Little Arliss and the puppy squirrel hunting because if the puppy is going to act like Old Yeller he may as well be of use.

Vin is in her room, piles of paper all around her on the floor. She continues to sort through the pages, rearranging them as she rereads different parts. She even starts to take notes of some quotes that she wants to remember. OreSeur watches her, commenting that she should use the desk instead of the floor. Elend walks in, and he is amazed that she is researching. He is also impressed with her penmanship, based on the pretty letters in her notes. Elend takes Vin with him to meet the messenger that has come from his father’s army. Vin   is shocked to find that this messenger is also the man that was following her, the watcher. The messenger’s name is Zane, and he acts like an ambassador. Later, Vin and OreSeur wait outside for Zane. The two Mistborn spar, jumping from one rooftop to another. Zane says that Vin is different from the rest. She shouldn’t allow herself to be used by them. Vin doesn’t know what he means. When Zane leaves, Vin is sure she wants to spar with him more.

Zane comes back to his camp, or his father’s camp. He has a guard summon is father to the strategy tent. While waiting, he gives one of the soldiers strategic positions of the forces in Luthadel. Straff comes in and Zane tells him about the day’s activities, including what was said between Zane and Elend. They talk over a cup of tea. Straff, being a tineye, burns tin and smells poison in the tea he’s drinking. He knows Zane is always trying to poison him. He defiantly drinks the tea anyway and dismisses Zane. After, Straff summons one of his mistresses, a woman named Amaranta, who prepares a concoction of medicines in a special tea for Straff. He drinks the new tea, hoping he’ll live again this time.

Sazed has traveled six weeks worth of distance in six days, using his metalminds from time to time. Whenever a metalmind runs out, he leaves it on the ground, trying to lessen the amount of weight he has to carry. He notices several pillars of smoke ahead, sure sign that there is an army or camp of some kind. He is surprised to see that the army camp is made up of koloss, a dark blue kind of monster barbarian, once controlled by the Lord Ruler. Sazed is found by a koloss patrol. They force him to come down from the tree he was hiding in and follow them into the camp. Sazed is surprised once again to see that the man controlling these koloss is Jastes Lekal, a one-time friend of Elend Venture. Jastes says that he plans to conquer Luthadel as his own. He ends up letting Sazed go, under the condition that Sazed tell Elend about what he has seen. Sazed leaves, feeling even more urgency about getting to Luthadel.

Elends meets with his advisors–Ham, Breeze, Dockson, and Vin. Tindwyl is there, too. They try to talk Elend out of this plan he has to go into his father’s camp and trick him into fighting Cett. They don’t think Elend can con someone like that, but Elend is insistent that he can manipulate his father any time he wants. Plus, Elend argues, he’ll have Vin with him, in case Straff tries to take his own son hostage. Vin, listening in to the conversation, discovers through bronze that Breeze is soothing Elend to make him more confident. After the meeting, Tindwyl chastises Elend for not acting more like a king. Kings cannot doubt themselves. They must always feel that they are the right man for the job and convince others of the same through sheer confidence. The discussion is interrupted when Elend gets word that Cett’s daughter has arrived in Luthadel, looking for Breeze.

Cetts daughter, Allrianne, has left her father’s camp and come to Luthadel to see Breeze, whom she affectionately calls Breezy. Breeze is completely embarrassed by this, but the rest of the group gets a good laugh at his expense. Allrianne says she hated staying in her father’s camp; she needs comforts only a city can bring, like fresh water and a bed. After Allrianne leaves to freshen up, the group decides it may be beneficial to keep her. It may prevent her father from attacking too soon.

Vin, hides, suspended in the mists, just above Keep Venture. She spies on Ham as he walks across a courtyard. As she follows him, as a predetermined time, OreSeur jumps from behind some boxes and howls, scaring Ham. Ham reacts by flaring pewter. This confirms to Vin that he is not the kandra imposter. Vin admits to Ham that she is out of atium, meaning she’ll die the next time she fights a Mistborn with atium. She wonders is there is a secret to killing someone with atium. Ham doesn’t think so, although there have been some theories about how to do so. It may be possible, for example, to surprise them somehow. After that, Vin has a heart-to-heart with OreSeur. They talk about the way kandra are often treated, beaten by their own masters. They spot someone approaching the keep’s walls. It turns out to be Sazed, who has returned with, as he puts it, “problems and troubles.

Sazed is telling the group in the kitchens late at night, what he saw in the Koloss camp. They are not happy to know that a third army is on its way to Luthadel. Sazed does not know how Lekal is controlling the creatures, but the group does know that 20,000 koloss could beat an army of at least four times that many humans, meaning there is nothing stopping them from reaching and taking Luthadel. Finally, Sazed also share his fear regarding the mist killing people. He thinks something was released when the Lord Ruler was killed, although he never personally saw the mist kill anyone. Cett’s daughter comes walking in, half disheveled, asking what’s going on. They dismiss her and the group breaks apart, everyone either going to bed or to some corner to thin. Vin takes OreSeur outside to patrol. Back in his room, Sazed meets Tindwyl, an old friend of his. She criticizes him for returning and having strange theories about the mist.

Vin is outside, thinking about the beating she hears to the north, just like the writer of the log book, the supposed Hero of Ages. Zane finds her, and again he tries to convince her to leave Elend and Luthadel, claiming that she is being used by them and that she can do much better on her own, free to do as she pleases. Vin insists that she is very happy doing what she is doing and that no one is forcing her to do anything.

Vin is woken by a quiet bark of warning from OreSeur. She reacts by jumping out of bed, reaching for a dagger, and downing a vile of metals. She does all this before she realizes that the person that was “sneaking up on her” is actually Tindwyl the Terriswoman. Tindwyl obligates her to go shopping with herself and Allrianne, something Vin knows she will detest. They take a carriage to the market, the three women and OreSeur, who everything still assumes is just an ordinary wolfhound, along with Spook, who is forced to go to carry the girls’ bags. Vin manages to find a dress that she likes, and Tindwyl arranges for the dress to be made special for a Mistborn. Meanwhile, a someone has identifies Vin and a large crowd has gathered outside the storefront. Vin reluctantly goes outside to talk to them. They obviously worship her, calling her the Heir to the Survivor–Kelsier. She tries to say something that will inspire hope, but she feels that she is really just lying to them. Meanwhile, Elend is at the wall when Straff’s men attack. The guards and archers on the wall are in a total panic, and they barely kill a few of the invading wave before it retreats to the Venture camp. This was a test, just to try out Luthadel’s defenses, it is explained to Elend. Straff is sending a message, just before Elend is supposed to go out to the camp and talk to his father.

Vin opens the box sent from the dress maker, happy to find that the new dress is very well designed for a Mistborn, allowing her to move and fight freely. It even has secret hiding places for her daggers and some vials of metal. OreSeur does not think going is a good idea, since Vin and Elend would be alone in Straff’s army camp. Vin knows she must go anyway. Elend and Vin ride into the camp. Over the meal, Elend tries to manipulate Straff, but the man seems to catch on too quickly. Then he sends Vin out of the tent, so they can talk alone, father and son.

Straff and Elend talk inside, and things don’t seem to be going very well for Elend. Straff says he’ll just have Elend killed and demand Luthadel to open the gates to him. Elend says that if he is killed, Vin will kill Straff. Vin is outside, listening. She begins to manipulate Straff’s emotions, making him feel afraid. Finally, she smoothes away everything–every emotion he has, leaving him feeling empty and dead inside. The trick works, and Elend and Vin get out of the camp safe. Meanwhile, Zane has a little chat with Vin outside the tent, telling her that she is nothing but a knife to Elend. After they are gone, Straff commands Zane to kill Vin. Back in Luthadel, Elend learns that the assembly has voted to remove him as king.

The group meets together to see what they’re going to do about the assembly’s vote. They try to figure out if the assembly already has someone else in mind to put on the thrown, or if they simple want to send a warning to Elend because he has been ignoring them of late. The discussion leads to an argument between Breeze and Ham, as always, and Vin gets a taste of kandra humor when OreSeur whispers that he could always eat one of them and solve the argument. Later, Elend gets another lesson from Tindwyl about how a proper kind should act.

At night, Vin and OreSeur have a talk. OreSeur doesn’t think it’s healthy for Vin to keep herself awake for long periods of time, burning pewter to stay strong. He also doesn’t like the way Vin treats Zane, who should be her enemy. In the middle of the conversation, Vin realizes that she’s figured out what the Deepness is.

Sazed is in his room, studying and transcribing the rubbings he found. He knows that these few pages of transcribed text could keep him busy for months or even years. Vin enters through his window and wants to talk to him about the deepness. Sazed talks about if the deepness is even real or if it’s just a made-up story, some propaganda spun by the Lord Ruler. Vin says she thinks it’s real and tells Sazed that she thinks it’s actually the mist itself. The log book and the rubbings don’t say the mist actually killed people but that people died because of the mist. That could be because a permenant mist that covered the ground would kill crops and live stalk, leaving people to die of starvation. Vin also tells Sazed about the mist spirit that has been following her.

The assembly gathers, and Elend gets an opportunity to explain what he has done with his father. He uses twenty minutes to tell of the situation with the two armies and how his meeting with Straff went. He tells them that he used Vin’s power to threaten Straff, a move that may protect the city for some time yet. Meanwhile, Vin tries to pay attention to Elend’s meeting. She sees Zane in the crowd, and he smiles at her. They then have nominations for who should run for king. Elend and Lord Penrod are nominated, and, lastly, Cett is nominated. The man reveals himself to be in the crowd.

Vin watches in shock as Cett reveals himself to the crowd and to the assembly. He uses his army outside the gates to threaten the people into voting for him. He also tells the crowd about the koloss army not too far away, a fact that Elend hasn’t told anyone.

Vin sits in her room, studying the stacks of papers she has there. OreSeur is there with her, and they talk about the religious beliefs of the kandra. They practically worship the Contract above all else, the agreement they have with their human masters. Meanwhile, Elend discovers that some of the wells in Luthadel are being poisoned by someone, probably one of the armies outside. Vin talks to Dockson, and in the conversation, she determines that he can’t be the spy. She and OreSeur turn their attentions toward a new option: Demoux, a captain of the guard.

Elend works to find a way to convince the assembly to name him king again, while Vin wants to tell him her theory about Demoux. Tindwyle gets upset with Sazed when she finds out that he helped write part of the laws Elend put into place a year ago. Vin leaves the group and finds Zane, who immediately attacks her. She thinks he wants to spar, like before, but the fight becomes aggressive and Vin must fight him to survive. Zane tells her that he was ordered to kill her and that this attack was a warning. There are also many refugees coming from the koloss army, on their way to seek refuge in Luthadel. After giving his two warnings, Zane leaves.

Vin tries on another custom-made dress. Tindwyl tells her that Elend has nearly learned as much as he can from her; he’ll now have to learn to be a good leader through experience. Elend prepares his armored escort and carriage to go and see Cett. Breeze decides not to go, since he and Cett have history, which would only make the situation worse. When Elend and Vin actually enter the keep Cett is staying in and talk to the man, they discover just how sincere he is. He doesn’t want his daughter back, trusting that Elend will take good care of her. Cett wants Elend to step down from the election for king, and in return he won’t have Elend killed when he is made king. They also talk about the fact that no atium was found in all of Luthadel. Finally, Cett dismisses the two.

Sazed wanders through warehouse full of refugees from the koloss attacks, trying to help and health where he can. Tindwyl comes in and talks to him. She wants to see what he’s found–the rubbings he’s been transcribing. Meanwhile, Breeze has been listening in on the conversation, soothing both people in a way that would make them more friendly to each other. He walks among the refugees, trying to sooth away bad emotions and make them feel better. Elend and Ham come in, and Elend wants to make sure all the people have the clothes they need. Later, Breeze goes into the keep and has a secret meeting with Clubs. Though they always seem to hate each other, they drink together and talk; they’ve struck up a strange companionship. Allrianne walks in and tries to steal Breeze away. Vin, watching from outside, discovers that Allrianne is a rioter, since she was rioting Breeze’s emotions. She and OreSeur then go to find Demoux, still certain that he is the kandra spy. They find him in a little meeting of the church of the Survivor. He can’t be a spy, Vin decides. Then who is?

Sazed and Tindwyl sit together in the study, pouring over the rubbings, searching their metalminds for any references to the deepness or Hero of Ages. It’s morning, meaning they’ve been at it all night long. Tindwyl knows the course of actions Sazed takes is different from what the keepers want, but she is willing to stay with him and study these things further. Meanwhile, Elend and Ham walk along the wall. Ham comments that Elend looks more kingly than ever. As they walk, Elend announces that he has an idea to help Luthadel’s situation.

Vin, Elend, and the rest of the crew arrive early for the day of the election for king. Before the voting begins, Vin, trying to figure out what Elend has up his sleeve, discovers that he has joined the church of the Savior, in an effort to curry votes from the skaa members of the assembly. Suddenly, a groups of allomancers attack Elend and Cett. Vin manages to fight off the men, getting badly hurt in the process. After the fighting, the vote is moved to a more secure location, and the assembly members each announce their vote. Surprisingly, Penrod, a nobleman from the assembly is chosen the new king. Elend hands over his crown and leaves.

Straff Venture is angry that Zane sent a group of his allomancers to their deaths while Vin still lives. Zane promises that he has a plan to take care of her. Meanwhile, Straff meets with Penrod, the new king of Luthadel. Penrod is planning to give Luthadel to Straff, opening the gates to him and handing over the kingship.  Straff, on the other hand, doesn’t want to enter the city while Vin still lives. Later, Zane tells Straff that he has been poisoned again. Zane leaves, and Straff is forced to ride hard back into the camp so his mistress can make him another antidote tea.

Vin awakes to see that Elend is with her. He tells her that he is not king, and he reports that OreSeur, who was badly hurt in the fight, is currently digesting a new set of bones. Vin feels that Elend is now scared of her somehow because of the way she fought those allomancers. Vin goes back to sleep, and awakes to find Zane there. He accuses her, saying that she could have killed those attackers easily had she not been so distracted with protecting Elend and other innocents. Later, OreSeur visits Vin, in another dog’s body. They talk more about the Contract that binds all kandra. Vin uses brass and duralumin to push strongly on OreSeur’s emotions. Even though he at first does not react at all, with enough force, Vin hurts him very badly, and she felt like she were controlling him for a moment. She apologizes for hurting OreSeur, and he leaves to get some rest. Vin promise to never tell anyone what she’s discovered about kandra.

Sazed and Tindwyl continue to talk about the things they are learning. Something doesn’t make sense about the rubbings, written by Kwaan. It seems that Kwaan did not trust Alendi, but he also knew Alendi was a good man. But if Kwaan knew Alendi was good, why did he have his nephew, Rashek, to mislead or even kill Alendi? Elend comes in and asks for advice. After a discussion, he decides that being king isn’t about a title, but about doing something to help others. He returns to his closet and retrieves the white suite, the one made for a king.

Elend is hard at work, helping the people. He’s sending men out to dismantle the wooden parts of keeps and houses to use as firewood. The many refugees are cold and hungry, and he wants to help them. Someone comes with news that one of the gates under the river has been broken. That is how someone has been getting into the city and poisoning the wells. Also, other reports say that an Inquisitor is lurking about the city. Elend decides to go out and talk to Jastes, with the koloss army, himself. He rides out and meets Jastes, unable to make any kind of deal. On the way out, Elend manages to fight and kill one smaller koloss, earning the sword and pouch as his own. He looks into the pouch and discovers how Jastes is controlling the koloss. He’s paying them.

Vin sees Elend, now returned from his meet with the koloss army, inured and resting. Zanes comes and says that Cett was the one that planed the attack at the voting ceremony. Vin gets angry and decides to attack Cett. Zane and Vin attack the keep that Cett has been staying at in Luthadel. Together, they kill guards and hazekillers. Fueled by rage, Vin kills quickly, working her way to Cett’s room. She realizes that Zane is using atium, while she has none, and yet she’s killing just as easily as he is. They finally get to Cett’s room, where he is with his son. Vin fights them at first, but when she discovers that neither of them is an allomancer and that Cett doesn’t have a single allomancer with him, she leaves them behind, injured and scared.

The crew sees that Cett’s army is now leaving, a result of Vin’s attack on his keep the night before. Elend does not know why Vin attacked Cett like that. Some in the crew think she’s crazy, but Elend just sees her as determined. They also discover that the “coins” Jastes has been using to control   the koloss are fake, wooden coins painted gold. Elend goes to find Vin, who is hiding in the city. He finds her with OreSeur’s help. She says she must leave Luthadel and go north, to Terris. Elend says he trust her to do the right thing. They have one large bead of atium, and Vin gives it to OreSeur to hold for her.

Sazed and Tindwyl compare notes, studying the rubbing and other references they’ve managed to find. Tindwyl admits that she doesn’t believe in these prophecies, her interest in them being purely academic. Sazed, on the other hand, thinks Vin might actually be the next Hero of the Ages. While they talk, they discover that someone–or something–has torn a piece from one of the transcription pages. Vin comes in, while they try to figure out at what point were they both gone or occupied to not have seen an intruder going through their things. Vin asks Sazed how she can know if she’s in love. They talk about trust. After Vin leaves, Elend comes in and starts asking similar questions. Elend thinks he and Vin are too different to make a couple, but Sazed says that, to him, they are more alike than they think. After Elend leaves, Sazed realizes that Luthadel is going to fall soon; he needs to get both Elend and Vin out of the city before that happens.

Sazed calls a meeting with the members of the crew: Dockson, Breeze, Ham, and Clubs. He doesn’t invite Elend, Vin, or Spook. They talk about how the city is sure to fall. Straff apparently is in no hurry to take Luthadel. Instead, he’ll back off and let the koloss attack the city first. The koloss will win and enter the city, pillaging as they go. Then, with the koloss weakened and tired from the fight, Venture will ride in like a hero and save the city, defeating the koloss and taking Luthadel for himself. Sazed says that Elend and Vin need to get out of the city before these things happen. He wants Spook and Tindwyl to go with them. The rest of the group will have to stay and fight and die. Meanwhile, Vin feels she must follow the drumming she hears all the time. In Straff’s camp, Zane is attacked by his father’s men. He defeats them, but spares his father. He leaves, saying that tonight he will take Vin with him and leave Luthadel. He tells Straff that he should wait for the koloss to attack and then take the city.

Vin is in her room with OreSeur when Zane visits. He wants her to come with him, but she says she can’t because she doesn’t want to leave Elend. When Zane sees that she won’t go, he attacks her. They fight. When Zane starts to burn atium, Vin asks OreSeur for the large bead, a bead Zan had given her before. OreSeur doesn’t respond to her command. Vin discovers that OreSeur is not OreSeur. He is TenSoon, Zane’s kandra. Of course! There was no other spy. The bones they found were TenSoon’s and he had killed OreSeur! Zane corners Vin, but Vin uses a massive soothing to take control of OreSeur/TenSoon and attack Zane from behind. She then cuts the bead of atium fro TenSoon. But this is another trick. The bead is lead, with only a thin layer of atium. Soon, Vin is left helpless against a Mistborn killer with atium. Vin decides that Zane can see what she’s about to do, or, rather, what she plans on doing. If she attacks without thinking, though, she can, see in Zane’s reaction what she is going to do, only to change it at the last possible second. The trick works, and Vin defeats Zane. After Zane dies, she thanks OreSeur/TenSoon for helping her win. His contract is void, and he must return to his people. Vin goes to find Elend.

Elend is in his study when Vin comes in, bloody from her fight with Zane. She tells him that she killed him. He calls for Sazed, who comes to help with the wounds. While she is there, on the ground, she asks Sazed if he knows any wedding ceremonies. Of course, he knows hundreds. Vin asks which one is the shortest, and Sazed recalls one that only requires a declaration of love between the bride and groom before an ordained witness. Vin and Elend both say that they love each other, and Sazed declares them married. The wounds are clean, and Sazed sends Vin to get some rest. He also gives them a fake map to find the Well of Ascension. If the couple follows the map, they’ll be gone from Luthadel for a long time.

Elend and Vin prepare to ride out of the city. Tindwyl decides to stay in Luthadel. Spooks gets ready to go, and Allrianne will ride out, at Breeze’s insistence. So the four of them ride out, Vin quickly having to fight pursuers from Straff’s army. Once they are free, Allrianne breaks off to find her father’s army. Meanwhile, some of the crew watch as the escape, now sure of their own coming doom. Straff Venture hears of the escapes, but he has problems of his own now. He’s getting sick, which he knows is the result of poisoning from his son, Zane. He sends for his mistress, Amaranta, to fix him an antidote, but he discovers that she isn’t preparing what she normally does. She is actually killing, as she has for a long time. There never was any poison. Zane never tried to kill his father. But Amaranta, in her constant fixing of teas for Straff, has been causing him to become addicted to a rare drug. Without that drug, Straff will die. Straff, in a rage, kills Amaranta and then swallows as much powder from her medicine cabnet as he can, hoping to accidentally swallow some of the drug he needs before he loses consciousness.

Allrianne has made her way to her father’s camp, with the help of some bandits she’s tamed with her rioting. Her father, Cett, is not happy to see her. She convinces him to go back and join the winning party in the battle that is to come, although Cett promises that will likely be Straff. Meanwhile, Elend wakes up on the third morning out of Luthadel. He and Vin share a tent now, and he finds himself surprisingly comfortable on the hard ground, with Vin next to him. They get up and prepare the fire. It’s just the three of them: Elend, Vin, and Spook. Meanwhile Straff wakes up in bed. His men have taken care of him, and they’ve isolated the plant he needs to stay alive. When he hears that Vin and Elend have left the city, the men ask if they should attack now. Straff says no; they should pull back and wait for the koloss. Sazed meets with the others to plan a strategy for when the koloss attack. They plan to have a group of men at each gate. Saze and Tindwyl get a little time together, but then the warning drums begin to beat.

Vin is thinking about how the mist is staying later and later every day, instead of just disappearing with dawn, when she feels the pulsing of the mist spirit coming from Elend’s tent. She runs in, just in time to see the outline of that spirit lift some kind of knife to attack Elend, who is sleeping on the ground. She attacks the spirit and it disappears. Elend wakes up and never knows what was happening. She leaves Elend to sleep a little more and goes out to speak with Spook. He thinks someone is following them. Meanwhile, Sazed and the crew get ready, since it looks like the Koloss are about to attack. Men are at each gate, with one crewmember there to help. Straff sees that the koloss are attacking, but he tells his men to wait. Vin and Elend attack the camp of people that have been following them. It turns out to be Jastes. He’s lost control of the koloss, so he just left them. Elend kills Jastes because of his crimes against Luthadel. Vin discovers that the drumming sounds are getting softer, meaning the well is to the south, in Luthadel, and not in the Terris mountains.

Breeze works at his assigned gate, soothing soldiers by the dozen, helping them to be brave and fight well. The koloss pound at the door, while men atop the wall rain arrows down on the attackers. The koloss throw rocks up in return, smashing archers. Meanwhile, Vin runs towards Luthadel, burning pewter. She knows she will run out of pewter long before reaching Luthadel, and she wonders if the effect will kill her. But still she keeps running. Breeze and Clubs talk while the koloss continue to beat the gate. They blame themselves for being stupid enough to be in this mess, and they blame Kelsier for getting them into such responsibilities. Just then, the gates burst open. Meanwhile, Sazed gets word that Breeze’s gate had fallen. He doesn’t think he can really help. He notices that there is a crowd of skaa standing behind the defense force. When Sazed confronts them, telling them that they should flee to safety inside the city, the skaa answer that they are there to witness the fall of the koloss at the hands of Vin, who they are sure will return and make her appearance at Sazed’s gate. Then the gate breaks. Sazed musters his stored strength, growing in size, and faces the lead koloss, shouting for the men to fight. Vin, half collapsing and out of pewter, reaching a small village. At first she thinks to ask for pewter, but then she remembers how she used to travel with Kelsier on a path of metal bars in the ground. She asks for horseshoes, using them to “walk” by leaping, placing horseshoes ahead of her and pulling the ones behind to place further. In this way, she uses the horseshoes like stilts to help her travel in the air.

Outside Luthadel, Straff Venture sees that the koloss have now broken into the city gates. His men are ready to attack the koloss from the rear, but Straff decides to wait longer. Sazed, fighting the koloss, realizes that they need to get the gate closed again in order to survive. Using strength and weight, he manages to fight off the koloss and get the gate closed again. While getting a little break, a messenger comes and says that Tindwyl’s gate fell over an hour ago. Meanwhile, Clubs and Breeze are attacked and forced to run. Clubs is killed, while Breeze hides in a building. Dockson contemplates the root of their failure. He attacks a koloss, only to be cut down. Straff decides not to swoop in a save the city while the koloss are weak. Instead, he’d rather wait for the koloss to kill everyone and burn the city. Then Straff will move in. Meanwhile, Sazed fights on, wondering what happened to Tindwyl. He feels he is going to die, but then Vin arrives and starts killing koloss. Breeze is found by Ham and some others. They want to try to escape.

Vin continues killing koloss, several at a time. Sazed, outside Lord Penrod’s keep, begs the newly appointed king to go with them as they try to escape. Penrod insists on staying inside his keep. Vin continues to fight the koloss, but now she is almost completely out of pewter, steel, and almost every other metal. In desperation, to save some skaa from certain death, she super-soothes them, like she’d done to TenSoon, controlling the koloss with her mind. Sazed is standing outside Penrod’s keep when Vin walks up with koloss in tow. She orders Penrod to gather his men and put out the fires in Luthadel. Vin will take care of the koloss throughout the city. Later, Sazed finds Tindwyl’s dead body among the slain soldiers. He feels that all the faith, all the religions, he has always treasured is now useless. His life, he believes, has been a sham.

Straff wakes up and takes a sample of the drug he needs to stay alive. He gathers his men, expecting to be able to take the city now. But the koloss come out with the remaining soldiers of Luthadel. Vin jumps from among the koloss, sailing through the sky with a giant sword, cleaving Straff and his horse in half on impact. Allrianne watches these events from her father’s camp. She charges after them to help Luthadel’s army, forcing her father and his men to ride after her. Straff’s army surrenders, and Janarle, Straff’s general, is named the new Lord of the Venture army. Janarle, Penrod, and Cett all swear loyalty to Elend as their Emperor. Vin, needing rest, leaves Sazed in charge of the Empire until Elend can return to Luthadel.