The Portable Beat Reader Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. What does Ann Charters write of the origination of the Beats in the Introduction?

Charters writes that the Beat Generation started off as a very small literary movement in New York City, originally centered around Times Square. The Beats experimented with crime and drugs in an attempt to get outside of post-war American society, which the Beats saw as fundamentally sick. The most important literary statement of the Beat Generation was Jack Kerouac's "On the Road," which renounces the cynicism of American intellectual life.

2. Describe the exposition from the beginning excerpt of "On the Road." Who are the characters introduced?

The excerpt from "On the Road" begins with Kerouac describing his first meeting with Neal Cassady known as Dean Moriarty in the book. Kerouac finds Dean immediately intriguing but dislikes his girlfriend. After Dean's girlfriend goes back to Denver, Dean seeks out Kerouac and asks Kerouac to teach him to write. Kerouac introduces Dean to Allen Ginsberg, referred to as Carlo Marx, and Dean and Carlo immediately begin spending all their time together.

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