The Sixties Exposed in Takin' it to the Streets and The Dharma Bums

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The Sixties Exposed in Takin' it to the Streets and The Dharma Bums

One cannot undertake any study of the 1960s in America without hearing about the struggles for social change. From civil rights to freedom of speech, civil disobedience and nonviolent protest became a central part of the sixties culture, albeit representative of only a small portion of the population. As Mario Savio, a Free Speech Movement (FSM) leader, wrote in an essay in 1964: "The most exciting things going on in America today are movements to change America" ("Takin' it to the Streets," 115). His essay is critical of those that maintain the status quo and oppose change in America. It seems quite obvious that change has occurred as a result of the efforts
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The rebellion against automation and middle-class prosperity of the sixties is portrayed in Kerouac's The Dharma Bums. Ray and the other dharma bums lived on little money and enjoyed nature. Ray traveled cross-country hitchhiking and jumping on trains from California to North Carolina and back more than once on only a few dollars and while at home in North Carolina for Christmas he sat in the woods with his dog much of the time and preferred to sleep in a sleeping bag outside on the porch rather than inside his mother's home. This love of nature and desire to live a very meager lifestyle in opposition to the working class prosperity seems to be more in opposition to the changing culture, which was becoming more automated and industry driven, than it was trying to illicit change. Regarding automation and middle-class prosperity, it seems that Kerouac and others feared the loss of nature to industry as well as one's time to be able to enjoy nature.

The fight against automation was however, somewhat subservient to the goal of social change regarding individual rights. The civil rights movement sought changes to the system of racial injustice. Resistance to this movement helped bring about the FSM and the fight for one's rights to free speech and assembly. The FSM was a movement dedicated to promoting equality and individual rights, yet it maintained the
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