The Vanishing American Hobo By Jack Kerouac Essays

2148 Words Dec 7th, 2016 9 Pages
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 independently.” (Kerouac). In order to historicize the disappearance of the Hobo subculture, I have selected LIFE Magazines’ October 4th, 1937 issue as a lens through which Kerouac’s essay can be better understood. As I will show throughout this essay, the hobo was alive and well in the years leading up to the second world war. Yet as depicted throughout the 1937 edition of Life magazine, the growing consumer based nature of American society possessed little sympathy for individuals rejected the notions of labor and chose to sleep in the woods with the stars overhead rather than in the comforts of a suburban home. Kerouac’s poignant opening to the essay establishes a dichotomy in which, “(The) Man don’t want no pack rats here even…

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