At the end of World War II, Americans enjoyed a period of blissful relief and charged-up happiness unlike any realized before. Although an odd mixture of pride and sorrow over the dropping of atomic bombs left many people uneasy about the path to victory, it did not waylay the renewed spirit of optimism and drive for prosperity that swept the country at a feverish pace. The latter part of the 1940s and most of the 1950s have been called times of innocent fun, social quietude, and old-fashioned family values. The end of the war turned Rosie the Riverter into June Cleaver, as most women gave up their wartime jobs to raise the first of the baby boomers while dads worked as the sole breadwinners in the family. But, not everyone welcomed a neatly prescribed life with the perfect spouse, two kids, and a white picket fence around a well-manicured lawn. Some people were disillusioned with postwar complacency and protested social norms that smelled more like social control than simply a style of living. A faction of those people became self-identified members of the Beat Generation.
Disillusionment may be considered the “core” theme of the Beat Movement, for it encompasses the basic reason for the split from mainstream society that the original Beats desired. Although the foundations of the movement may be traced to the four kindred personalities of Kerouac, Burroughs, Corso, and Ginsberg, there is little doubt that countless other...
(The entire section is 880 words.)
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