Cultural Context Essay: The Beat Generation

Essay by eyes_bloodedHigh School, 11th gradeB, June 2009

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On the Road, by Jack Kerouac was considered to be the first beat novel. The lifestyle of the beats is explained as going against mainstream norms. The two main characters in the novel Dean and Sal both go against normal society. On the Road was written during a time when mainstream society was into materialistic possessions. The average person was concerned with having a good paying job and raising a family in the suburbs while Beatniks had the complete opposite goals in life then the average person.

Beats wanted to be different and to not be tied down to a signal job for the rest of their lives. They believed that people who bought into mainstream society were slaves to the system. Dean and Sal lived their life one day at a time not worrying about where they were going to sleep or get money for the next meal. Their lives were based opposite of the typical persons’ life; and that is how they felt comfortable.

It was all about the experiences to them, how they viewed life, sex, and money was all far too different from how anyone else other than Beatniks like them would think.

Dean’s character in the story was very important because it showed that a person does not have to go with traditional society. An example of Dean going against normal mainstream culture is the fact that he was in prison for a time in his life. People who follow conventional society would look down on someone who has been in jail. But, Sal and his other beatnik friends do not seem to judge Dean on his past criminal record. “He was a young jail kid all hung-up on the wonderful possibilities of becoming a real intellectual.”(p3) The common person thinks of jail as a...