Conformity In Jack Kerouac's The Vanishing American Hobo

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The American socio-political climate is an ever changing landscape in which different cultures compete for normality in a state system founded upon the equality of all men. Although these truths are held to be self-evident in the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence, certain groups continually find themselves disenfranchised by changing laws and technology which deem their way of life obsolete and are forced to conform or perish. Nowhere is system of conformity anthologized than in Jack Kerouac’s 1960 Essay, “The Vanishing American Hobo” when the author confesses, “I myself was a hobo but I had to give it up around 1956 because of increasing television stories about the abominableness of strangers with packs passing through by themselves …show more content…
He sees the nomad nature of the Hobo, the unwavering independent spirit of the passionless man as something to take pride in. Some critics see Kerouac take multiple slights against the Roosevelt administration whose mission to revitalize the American workforce created an ethical handicap upon all peoples who refused to toil in factories. Kerouac creates this analogy utilizing a generous female baker who is calling out to the hungry, “ when she called come and get it, hordes of hobos came, ten or twenty at a time, and it was kind of hard to feed that many, sometimes hobos were inconsiderate, but not always, but when they were, they no longer held their pride, they became bums” (Kerouac). By comparing unemployment benefits to a lady giving out free pie, Kerouac suggests the same individualistic pride developed by countless generations of hobos was immediately undermined by state run welfare programs whose promise of free money heralded amoral behavior in a vulnerable population. In the aftermath of the Second World War, rising Cold war tensions created a culture of fear that heralded non-traditional behavior as antithetical to the American way of life. As the author describes from his own experiences, when walking out in the Arizona desert he was stopped by multiple officers who regarded his peculiar habits as a threat to the peace. “They wanted an explanation for my hoboing,” He begins, “And came close to hauling me in but I was sincere with them and they ended up scratching their heads and saying --Go ahead if that 's what you want." (Kerouac.) These sentiments display a cultural barrier whose gap widened as the global politics increasingly became a two-sided argument of black and white. Lines drawn by powerful political figures, which would soon escalate into the cold war manifested across nameless american towns in the form of oppressive policemen and prying neighbors. The

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