Bohemiaism And Counterculture Analysis

Great Essays
The Negativeness of Culture and Counterculture in the Sixties:
Conventionalism vs. Bohemianism in Didion and Shepard’s Ideology The 1960s is a period when new cultural forms arise; it is a time when the traditional roles of women were reevaluated; it is “an era in which the ego ran wild, and the young had a craving for altered states.” As many young people were dissatisfied with the conventionalism — the mainstream American culture after post-World War II, the counterculture emerged in the Sixties with the celebration of the modern incarnations of Bohemianism — “the practice of an unconventional lifestyle associated with unorthodox or anti-establishment social viewpoints.” Under such context, Joan Didion criticizes the mainstream ideas regarding
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Lee, an uneducated thief who once lived in the desert, is depicted as a noticeable villain through his physical violence, rudeness and incompatibility in mainstream society. In the beginning, when Austin offers that “I can give you some money if you need money”(8), “Lee suddenly lunges at Austin, grabs him violently by the shirt and shakes him with tremendous power”(8). His physical violence suggests his lack of control. Then, when Austin and Saul talk about the screenplay, “Lee enters abruptly into the kitchen carrying a stolen television set”(15). His stealing behavior suggests his lack of morality and his sudden disturbance reveals his insensitivity and rudeness. As the conflict between Austin and Lee intensifies, Lee eventually confronts his reason of living in the desert: “Do you think I chose to live out in the middle a’ nowhere? Ya’ think it’s some kinda’ philosophical decision I took or somethin’? I’m livin’ out there ’cause I can’t make it here!”(49) His previous physical violence and rudeness suggest that Lee lacks the ability to live in the mainstream society. On the one hand, the author condemns that the conventionalism leads to the incompatibility of bohemians in the mainstream society. On the other hand, by revealing Lee’s inner desire of incorporating into the mainstream culture, Shepard indicates that the capricious and egotistical behavior of …show more content…
In Play It as It Lays, Maria’s monolog of “some people call me ‘Mrs. Lang’, but I never did”(4) conveys her resistance to the patriarchy in mainstream society. Her denial of being the subordinate of her husband may be a reminder for women in the Sixties of each woman is a unique individual rather than the property of men. Furthermore, unlike how BZ commits suicide to escape from the mainstream society’s intolerance of homosexuality, Maria directly states that “I’m sick of everybody’s sick arrangements”(48) regarding how BZ’s mother gives BZ and Helene money to stay married, and she continues to live and play the game. As long as there is life, there is still hope for resistance. At the end of the story, Maria narrates that “I know what ‘nothing’ means, and keep on playing.” “Why, Carter would say.” “Why not, I say” (214). Maria’s answer is actually stated clearly at the beginning of the story: “I bother for Kate. What I play for here is Kate. Carter put Kate in there and I am going to get her out”(4). As the readers all know that Kate is Maria’s hope of living on, the open question at the end also let the readers consider why they continue to live and what their hope is. Moreover, the hummingbird also serves as a symbol of continuity and resistance, as Maria says “I try not to live in Silver Wells or in New York or with Carter. I try to live in the now and

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