Could it be said that On the Road is countercultural without pretense?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that it could be said that Kerouac's work operates as a base of the counterculture identity.  I think that debate and discussion might emerge with the idea of "without pretense."  At the time, I think that Sal and Dean were seen as individuals who were representative of the new vision of the counter- culture.  They might not have been seen as pretentious because they were fundamentally different than what society was offering and what society presented.  Over time, though, I think that the social elements that might have made them fundamentally unique and different have become more socially acceptable.  This helps to make a modern viewing of Sal and Dean as a bit pretentious.  The idea of the need to "get away" to find oneself has become standard and accepted.  It is not so uncommon to find students "hitting the road" for an adventure.  This helps to make the self- absorption of Sal and Dean seem a bit on the pretentious time from the modern point of view.  Yet, at the time when Kerouac was writing it, both were seen as fundamentally unique and different than what American society offered after World War II, making them distinctive and without pretense.