The turbulent societal changes of the mid-20th Century have been documented in countless forms of literature, film and art. On the Road by Jack Kerouac was written and published at the outset of the counter-culture movement of the 1950s and 1960s. This novel provides a first-hand account of the beginnings of the Beat movement and acts as a harbinger for the major societal changes that would occur in the United States throughout the next two decades. On the contrary, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a Hunter S. Thompson novel written in 1971 provides a commentary on American society at the end of the counter-culture movement. Thompson reflects on the whirlwind of political and social activism he experienced and how American society had abruptly changed without warning. This paper will describe how the different themes and characters in On the Road and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas relate to the social changes that took place in America between the early 1950s and the early 1970s. Kerouac and Thompson wrote their respective novels with a different mindset, and since their mindsets were a product of the society they lived in, their attitudes with respect to society are reflected in both their characters and stories.
On the Road is a semi-autobiographical tale of Jack Kerouac's experiences in the late 1940s. He uses a first-person narrator, Sal Paradise, to channel his feelings and ideals through. Sal's hero, Dean Moriarty, is truly a symbol of the Beat generation a young man seeking escape from a world to which he doesn't feel he belongs. Kerouac uses these characters and several supporting characters to describe the ideals and motivations behind the Beat movement, which he himself was a large part of. His main characters all start out with a hopeful and willful attitude towards new experiences and the future. These traits were shared by the Beat generation, who sought new experiences and a break from the norms of society in the 1950s. At the time the...
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