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Mobility As Resistance: A Geographical Reading Of Kerouac's 'On The Road'

T. Cresswell
Published 1993 · Sociology

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In this paper I examine the theme of mobility in Jack Kerouac's novel On the road. I argue that Kerouac used mobility, alongside other themes, to express resistance to established norms in the culture of the United States during the nineteen fifties. I sketch the use of mobility in both the content and the structure of the novel and relate it to expectations of family, progress and attached sexuality. This resistance, I suggest, is ambiguous in that it rebels against ideals of family and home at the same time as it reproduces the established American mythology of mobile, male outlaws. This interpretation is placed in the context of the counter-culture of the nineteen fifties and nineteen sixties in the United States - a period when many young people were striking out against the presuppositions of rootedness, family values and the 'American Dream'. Using the insights of new 'cultural geography' and 'cultural studies' I suggest that the use of mobility in On the road, a key text in the counter-culture, represents a contestation of a central theme in American culture. Mobility is clearly an important part of North American mythology and as such it is open to change and challenge from resistant sub-cultures.
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