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Male view of women in the Beat Generation - A study of gender in Jack Kerouac's On the Road


  • Fredrik Olsson

Summary, in English

The aim of this essay is to analyse the role women play for the male Beats in Jack Kerouac's On the Road (1957) and how women, love and marriage are viewed in the text. The hypothesis that I argue for is that the male Beats' relationship to women is built upon an opposition. Their restless vagabond life with its characteristic search for "kicks" is contrasted with traditional and romantic ideas about love and marriage. The theoretical framework of the study consists of narratology and gender theory. The analysis begins with a brief discussion about the American Beat Generation in order to place the novel in its socio-historical context. It continues with the examination of gender roles in the text. The marginalization of female characters is analysed in relation to the depiction of male characters as active subjects in a "homosocial" culture centred on "male bonding". The recurring theme of gender problems in America is also discussed. After that, the objectification of women is analysed in terms of the "male gaze" and the search for "kicks". The sexist view of women is finally put in relation to the male characters' development from hedonistic Beats to family fathers. My conclusion is that On the Road contains a rather traditional view of women in contrast to its subversive reputation as a Beat classic. The strictly male perspective never permits the transgression of old and sexist gender roles.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Bachelor's degree


  • Languages and Literatures


  • feminism
  • gender roles in literature
  • könsroller i litteraturen
  • narratology
  • narratologi
  • Beat Generation
  • Kerouac, Jack
  • English language and literature
  • Engelska (språk och litteratur)


  • Annika Hill