Fri 5 May 2006
After reading Tom Wolfe’s “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” I found that I was most surprised by the ending of the novel. Up to that point, the ideals held by the Pranksters had been about everyone doing their own thing and learning to accept differences in perspectives or behaviors. All of a sudden, individuality had become a negative characteristic and was considered more of a burden or distraction. There was also a dramatic move from an emphasis on community and belonging to an emphasis on exclusivity and adhering to a set of norms, almost representative of a commune or some form of religion.
It was also shocking to see the dramatic change in Kesey’s character by the end of the novel. Throughout the novel, he remained the admirable leader figure who was always sure of himself and always took a firm stance on his beliefs. He began to lose that confidence and even began to experience self-doubt when he realized that he and the Pranksters were being surpassed by the new generation of hipsters. He could not handle the idea that the Pranksters had become “square.” His final words in the novel were: “We blew it.” This was disheartening because he was not able to recognize all he had accomplished, and was not able to see that he was part of the movement that paved the way for the new generation. He lost his optimistic sense of community and individuality, and instead of being content with himself, he was trying to push for something unreachable.