Jack Kerouac, Father of the Beat Generation?

Essay by greenestineHigh School, 11th gradeA+, May 2005

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Beat Generation

n : a United States youth subculture of the 1950s; rejected possessions or regular work or traditional dress; for communal living and psychedelic drugs and anarchism; favored modern forms of jazz (e.g., bebop)


n : A person, especially a member or follower of the Beat Generation, whose behavior, views, and often style of dress are pointedly unconventional.

Considered by many as the father of the beat movement, Jack Kerouac is one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century. Kerouac wrote many novels defining the beat generation. Kerouac wrote like jazz musicians play, fast and free, setting him apart from most of the writers of that time. A cross-disciplined observation could arguably define him as a beatnik, but hardly as the father of the beat generation, but more a prominent figure in the movement. Kerouac's lifestyle was typical of the beat spirit. He had no economic worry, his social life was that of an intellectual who didn't try, his religious beliefs were not the popular beliefs, he "self medicated" and totally disregarded classic styles of writing.

Kerouac was born as Jean-Louis Kerouac in Lowell, Massachusetts on March 12, 1922 into a French-Canadian working class family. He grew up speaking a local French dialect called joual before he began to speak English. He spoke with an accent the rest of his life. Ti Jean was an intense and serious child, devoted to Memere (his mother) and constantly forming important friendships with other boys, as he would continue to do throughout his life. He was driven to create stories from a young age, inspired first by the mysterious radio show 'The Shadow,' and later by the fervid novels of Thomas Wolfe, the writer he would model himself after (Asher).

Kerouac was a storyteller as a young boy...