The White Album

by Joan Didion

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

The White Album by Joan Didion is a collection of pieces about America in the 1960s. As a result, writing about the White Album is definitely going to force you to make choices about exactly which stories in the collection you focus on.

Joan writes about going to a press conference for the Black Panthers, for example. The Black Panther Party was a group of Black extremists. She writes about the events around the famous Manson family incidents, where a number of people followed the cult leader Charles Manson, who directed them to kill people.

You can also talk about the feel of the collection in general, such as how it explores the '60s period in California in an age of interest in spiritual enlightenment when people were exploring new ideas.

There are five major sections of the book. The first is just called “The White Album.” The second is called “California Republic,” the third “Women,” the fourth “Sojourns,” and the fifth is titled “On the Morning After the Sixties.” These sections can also serve as a structure for your essay if you want. If you’re trying to represent everything evenly, then the fourth section and the second section are the longest in terms of numbers of stories.

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