Lindsay Fu.


Ken Kesey is obviously the glue that holds the Merry Pranksters together. He is also the brain behind the entire psychedelic revolution. His ranch at La Honda is the center of the Acid Tests and the revolution. With Kesey behind the whole scheme, the Merry Pranksters, the ranch, the Acid Tests, with Kesey behind everything, the Merry Pranksters flourish and the revolution grows.
However, after his flight to Mexico, Kesey is no longer the youthful rebel that he used to be. Kesey comes back older, more worn and very beaten down by life. He spent years hiding in Mexico, which left him incredibly paranoid. In MExico, whenever there were any signs of trouble, he would run into the jungle behind the house, and hide for days. The problem was, there was never usually any trouble. Kesey thinks that every car that rolls down the street is an undercover cop , every person who walks by the house, every phone call, every hint of anything means that someone is looking for him. Kesey realizes that this paranoia is unfounded, and becomes cocky. He vocalizes and publicizes the fact that he is back in the United States, and that he cannot be caught. This cockiness is what ultimately gets him caught. He is no longer above the law or above authority. He can no longer escape, and he gets caught while stuck in gridlock traffic. Kesey ultimately has a break down in the end and with his breakdown comes the Breakdown of the Merry Pranksters.

Towards the end of the novel, The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test, the Merry Pranksters begin to lose their ability to manipulate and control their situations. After riding a wave of absolute power and control over other people, their control over people begins to dwindle.
It begins when Ken Kesey flees from the authorities, abandons the Pranksters and goes into hiding in Mexico. Babbs becomes the new “non-navigator” of the Pranksters and immediately the group divides between the ones who follow Babbs and his authority and the ones that are the anti-Babbs. The group now begins to reject people, turn them away from the bus and speak against the group members that are annoying them. These new rules and regulations that are instated once Babbs becomes the new leader cause a great deal of tension among the group. This is not like the old group of Pranksters, the ones hanging around the ranch at La Honda, taking acid and following the Unspoken Thing. Kesey’s presence is what made the Pranksters who they were, and when he was leading the Pranksters, they were above the law, above authority and could manipulate all their surrounding circumstances. After his departure, the Pranksters cannot help but break down.

In The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac, the narration is done in the first person and the audience sees and experiences different events through the eyes and feeling of Ray Smith. Smith, the obvious main character of the novel, considers himself a “Dharma Bum” or a devout, traveling Buddhist searching for true meaning and to put himself in favor for his future lives. However, due to his background, he is not a true Dharma Bum.
Ray comes from a Roman Catholic family and was raised in the type of home that Japhy Ryder disapproves of. He has converted to Buddhism and tries to live the life of a bum, but, does not succeed as well as he would like. In the beginning, when he is on the freight train with the Saint Teresa bum, he refers to a train as “The Zipper.” The bum refers to it as the “Midnight Ghost,” as it is the more common name amongst the bums. Ray did not know this, because he used to work for the railroad and is, therefore, not a true bum.
Also, Japhy Ryder and Ray have slightly different ideas about what is needed for the body. Before starting their climb up Matterhorn Mountain, Ray wonders what supplies they will need during their excursion. He tries to bring along more food and wine, but Japhy simply brushes him off. And, as Ray sees Japhy as a sort of hero and icon, Ray simply follows whatever Japhy says. Ray, though he tries, is not a very good Dharma Bum. The audiences experiences Ray’s frustration with not being able to be as good as a bum as Japhy, especially when they climb Matterhorn Mountain. Ray is not able to summit, as Japhy is.
Ray is stuck between his two worlds, the one in which he was raised, still holding onto the beliefs that he was brought up with, and the ones which he tries now to live.

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