What part of the reading shows exemplified personal freedom representing a break from tradition?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Sal decides to leave and hitchhike out West to Denver, it is an example of personal freedom breaking from tradition.  Sal is embracing his own idea of personal freedom.  While his aunt warns him that Dean will bring trouble upon him, Sal does not care.  He does not charter a flight to go out West.  Sal does not embrace a travel agent to do so.  Sal simply gets out a map and decides to hitch.  This shows a sense of personal freedom bucking the traditional notion.  The fact that Sal would even want to rendezvous with Dean is personal freedom going against traditional notions of having a plan and a clear, definite idea of what to do.  When Sal talks about "somewhere along the line the pearl would be handed to me,” it is clear that Sal is making the choice of personal freedom representing a break from what the socially dictated notions of tradition would hold for someone like Sal.  The idea of embarking on the road, with all of its inecurities and doubt, is reflective of how passionate Sal is about his own freedom representing himself and breaking from the traditional notion of the good.

jessicaj2 | Student

Another example of the breakdown in tradition and the pursuit of personal freedom over cultural norms is Dean's treatment of and relationships with women. Throughout the novel, Dean and Sal have several relationships with women that would have been considered unconventional during the 1950s. As the novel begins, Sal announces to the reader than he and his wife "split up".  This separation, or divorce, would have been a break from convention in the 1950s, when a stable marriages were valued over personal freedom. That first line sets the tone for other unconventional relationships in the novel, and this underscore the ways in which people were breaking from tradition. Dean's relationship with Marylou exemplifies this breakdown of tradition as well. She is underage, immature, and Dean takes advantage of this. Although they do get married, Dean maintains other relationships with women, Camille for one, while he is still involved with  Marylou. At one point in the novel, Dean plans to have Camille living on one side of San Francisco and Marylou on the other, so he can maintain his relationship with both of them. This shows is desire for personal freedom over tradition. By the end of the novel, Dean has been married three times, twice divorced, and is living with his second wife. His relationships with women exemplify a serious break in tradition as well as his pursuit of personal freedom.