"A Supermarket in California" Essay

"A Supermarket in California" Essay

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During the 1950’s, a group of young American writers began to openly oppose societal norms in favor of other radical beliefs. These writers believed in ideas such as spiritual and sexual liberation, decriminalization of drugs, and opposition to industrialism as well as consumerism (Parkins). Over time, these writers became known as the Beat Generation and created the Beat Movement. Among the members of this rebellious group was the infamous Allen Ginsberg who is considerably one of the most influential poets of his time. By utilizing tools like imagery, allusions, and symbols, Allen Ginsberg’s “A Supermarket in California” discusses themes such as consumerism, sexuality, and alienation which reflect Ginsberg’s personal beliefs and desire for change.
Ginsberg’s “A Supermarket in California” criticizes America during the midst of the twentieth century in which society had acquired an attitude that heavily valued the materialistic aspects of life. In order to efficiently express the speaker’s discontent with society, he paints images by using vivid detail throughout the entire poem to allow the reader to experience what the speaker experiences himself. He begins by describing the setting on the streets of California, “I walked down the sidestreets under the trees…/… looking at the full moon” (2-3) and had thoughts of Walt Whitman, a nineteenth century poet whom Ginsberg deeply admired. The setting is essential as it describes the two worlds in which the speaker lives in; one represented by the metropolitan landscape of downtown California and another represented by nature, which the speaker longs to be a part of. The speaker describes himself as a lost soul in search of satisfaction in conventional America, a place where he does no...


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...g with many individuals, are alienated and in turn, wish for extreme change and even another life. Ginsberg conveys a vital message that carries through to the year 2010 even more. Materialism does not make a person, it is insignificant. What is imperative is the natural world; beauty, individuality, and real human interactions as these are concepts that make an individual.

Works Cited
"Lethe (Greek mythology) -- Britannica Online Encyclopedia." Encyclopedia – Britannica
Online Encyclopedia. Web. 9 Feb. 2010. .
Lindemans, Micha F. "Charon." Encyclopedia Mythica: mythology, folklore, and religion. Web.
9 Feb.2010. .
Parkins, Keith. "Beat Generation." C l a r a . n e t - Customer Index. Web. 9 Feb. 2010.
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