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Date Submitted: 04/03/2011 01:47 AM

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Beats and Hippies in America through the Eyes of Kerouac and Kesey

The history of modern America has been closely connected with countercultural movements. Although built on the principles of democracy, the country has gone through a long path filled with inequalities, discrimination and dissent. The grounds for the emergence of the counterculture were many: racial segregation of blacks, fear of nuclear attacks during the Cold War, strong opposition to Vietnam War, struggle for civil rights, and Cuban missile crisis. Most of these issues became especially relevant for American population during 1950’s and 1960’s. The movement against norms of society imposed during that time was so strong and persistent, especially among youth, that it escalated in the countercultural revolution in the late 1960’s – early 1970’s.

Among major American countercultural movements, such as civil rights, women rights, and anti-war movements, two movements became especially popular and gained support of many people of different ages, races and religions. These were the beat movement in 1950’s and the hippie movement in 1960’s. They encompassed many of the major directions that other movements took, while also possessing unique cultural characteristics and peculiarities hat were never seen before. In them, thousands of Americans found values they were looking for: liberty, peace and understanding. Like many other movements, beats and hippies were based on the ideas of the few cultural figures working in the fields of literature and art. Therefore, to comprehend the reasons for the movements’ strong support with the masses, it is best to describe both beats (or beatniks) and hippies from the perspective of the most prominent figures of the movements, Jack Kerouac and Ken Kesey, respectively. Furthermore, the movements should be discussed in their chronological order to illustrate how the ideas of the former one were merged into the latter, and show their differences and similarities....