Jack Kerouac's On The Road

852 Words4 Pages
On the Road by Jack Kerouac explores the core ideologies of the Beat Generation, dealing with non-conformity in a post World War II America. The Beats were, in essence, twentieth century transcendentalists- believing in the power of the individual to clamor against the chains of society. They defied social constructs in all aspects of life, including sexuality, drugs, politics, and ways of thought. On the Road encapsulates the Beat way of life in the tale of Sal Paradise’s search for answers across the country, with his friend Dean Moriarty. Kerouac’s depiction of sexuality and drugs, along with his unconventional style of writing, illustrate the core beliefs of the Beat generation. Kerouac 's tale of finding one’s own path greatly…show more content…
Kerouac can comfortably and effortlessly detail Dean’s unorthodox sexuality, transitioning from the rigid beliefs of the Lost generation to the liberating and free ideologies of the Beat generation. Dean’s nonconformist attitudes demonstrate the Beat ideals of individuality and rebelling against the social norm for one’s own good. As Don Akers writes, the Beat generation were those who “as a result of disillusionment stemming from the Cold War, espouse mystical detachment and relaxation of social and sexual tensions,” (Akers 7). The Beats were people who rebelled against the previous generation and believed in freedom from societal rules. Kerouac precipitates this ideology through his portrayal of Dean’s sexuality. Another aspect of Beat life that is detailed in On the Road is drug use. Generations before the Beats regarded alcohol and drugs as taboo items, as evidenced in the prohibition of alcohol under the eighteenth amendment. But, Kerouac presents an idolatry of drugs and alcohol that is characteristic of the Beat generation in On the Road. In the novel, Sal idolizes Dean frequently. He believes that Dean’s spontaneity and wildness are the most desirable traits to have. Thus, in order to become wild and spontaneous like a sober Dean, Sal resorts to drugs. Sal uses drugs and alcohol as a way to briefly attain what Dean lives through all the time. Furthermore, the Beat attitude of reverence towards drugs is also shown in Kerouac’s characterization of Old Bull
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