Kesey and Plath: A New American Myth

Kesey and Plath: A New American Myth

Length: 1069 words (3.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Kesey and Plath: A New American Myth


A mutual friend sets up Ken Kesey and Sylvia Plath on a blind date. They meet in a Boston restaurant and discover they're both writers. Describe the ensuing conversation.

Sept. 3, 1955 (from Sylvia's diary)

It must have been some terrible mistake. Mother set me up with a certain Ken Kesey, a friend of a friend of the family. Terrible! We met at a restaurant on Harvard Square and it went downhill from there. I came home alright, but barely. I guess I can start from the beginning... Ken is large and very open with his body and gestures. He's from California, which could explain that. He dressed very casually and he had a crazy look in his eyes when he saw me. I don't know if he was happy to be there either. Apparently he goes to Stanford and is studying creative writing. I asked him about his writing and he started a whole speech on psychiatric wards and medications. I didn't want to hear a word about psychiatric wards, but he certainly got my interest.


He volunteers to do experiments for money. I can't imagine going through what I went through voluntarily... I did venture to ask him why he was writing about hospitals and he looked very closely at me and said, "You've been there. I know." And he did. He was seeing inside me, all the way inside, and it was the most uncomfortable silence I've ever had. I mumbled an accusation and as soon as it came out, I knew my mother hadn't told him about all that. Dinner went alright, barring the conversation about hospitals. We walked around the square and by the river for awhile and then he invited me to his hotel room and I said no, but I really wanted to leave with him. I've been so bottled up for days... I wanted to do something different. We sat down facing Cambridge and he looked at me again, intently and laughed...



"It's all black, isn't it? Then everything shuts down." Ken looked off toward the river. He started to laugh again.

"I don't know what you're talking about." Sylvia put her knees closer together. Uncomfortable.

"When they throw the switch. When it all shakes and then you black out. Then you can't think for days.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Kesey and Plath: A New American Myth." 05 Dec 2019

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Confessions of Sylvia Plath Essay

- The 1950s and 1960s were viewed as the start of not just the age of “hippies” but also an age of different revivals and movements that Plath was involved deeply in with her poetry: the revival of the occult and the confessional movement. The revival was seen as a back seat to many of the other movements happening during the ‘50s and 60s and some even say Plath just used it as a metaphor in her poetry. However, with her personal level written poems from the confessional movement combined with the occult we see a deeper side to her life and what was happening in her’s and everyone else’s lives....   [tags: American poet, novelist and short story writer]

Research Papers
777 words (2.2 pages)

Sylvia Plath's Death Gave Insight into Her Poetry Essay

- Sylvia Plath, an American poet, confessional writer, an intelligent, though emotional sufferer of depression, and ultimately, a bipolar suicidal, is more famous and recognized in death, than ever in life. Her death brought new and deeper meaning to her poetry, which provided an extremely profound and emotional insight into Plath’s innermost feelings and thoughts. Plath used her poetry to explore and to figure out her own life, but she was ever-haunted by the death of her father when she was 8, and by her husband, Ted Hughes, who both caused her a high degree of emotional distress....   [tags: Poetry Analysis, Poets, Poem Analysis]

Research Papers
770 words (2.2 pages)

Sylvia Plath : An American Poet Essay example

- Sylvia Plath Sylvia Plath born into a middle class family in Boston Massachusetts USA on October 27, 1932. Sylvia was an american poet, novelist and short story writer. Sylvia studied at the University of Cambridge before she starting her carrier as poet and writer. Sylvia Plath was married with the famous poet Ted Hughes in 1956 and in 1962 they separated. Sylvia Plath father death and the chaotic relationship with her husband brought to the surface her mental disorder. Sylvia Plath suffers for clinical depression and bipolar disorder most of her adult live....   [tags: Suicide, Bipolar disorder, Sylvia Plath]

Research Papers
1726 words (4.9 pages)

The Myth Of An American Road Trip Essay

- The myth of an American Road Trip is one that has existed in some way or another for nearly as long as European settlers came to North America. Even the very migration of European protestants to the New World could be seen as reflective of the same aspirations of road trippers today. To explore, seek, and see beyond the surrounding of their early years. In many ways, it is also possible to think of the Oregon Trail as the first and ultimate road trip before the advent of the automobile. These first road trippers were some of the first to truly go bolding into the unchartered and vast lands of the American West....   [tags: Native Americans in the United States]

Research Papers
1159 words (3.3 pages)

The Myth Of American Exceptionalism Essay

- America claimed to be the saver of the world. The Nation, that is highly superior to all others. But is it. Stephen M. Walt shows he greatly disagrees with this belief in his article, “THE MYTH OF AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM.” Walt claims that America is not nearly as great as Americans believe, and that America as a whole chooses to hide their shameful past. This counter idea about America is proven to be very truthful. However, America is a very exceptional country at the same time. Exceptionalism, although believed to be given to America only, is not unique for America but for all countries....   [tags: United States, World War II, American Revolution]

Research Papers
1362 words (3.9 pages)

The Power of Myth Essay

- The Power of Myth In the texts that we have recently read, we have seen the importance of myth in giving meaning and understanding to life. In the Beginnings of the Western Mind we read about the importance of myth in the consciousness of the oral societies of pre-classical Greece; in Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs we read about the myth of the "West" in the U.S. and its influence on the thought of many Americans; In Things Fall Apart we see the power if myth and the consequences of the break down of those myths and stories upon which a culture is structured on....   [tags: American Myth Myths Essays]

Free Essays
1296 words (3.7 pages)

Essay Myth Of The American Frontier

- Perhaps the most significant myth in American culture is that of the American frontier. Its symbolic meaning created such moral, ethical, and emotional values in American that it paved the way for a country that would grow from an East Coast settlement, to a coast-to-coast nation of progress. One of the most famous stories in frontier mythology is that of Paul Bunyan. Although Bunyan’s stories didn’t appear on paper until the early twentieth century, his stories were passed down by word of mouth telling the tale of the “Last of the Frontier Demigods.” “Paul Bunyan was the most famous folk hero of his time, and a symbol of American size, strength, and ingenuity.” He influenced the culture of...   [tags: Mythology History US american]

Free Essays
1054 words (3 pages)

Essay about The American Dream vs The American Myth

- After being stuck en route for an enormously long period of time, would you think that the destination had better be worth all the time spent getting there. Many people would say yes. Think about it. If you were on a journey which lasted months, possibly years of your life, you would want to arrive at your destination seeing the same thing you had dreamt of during the trip. What if, when you got there, you discovered that the dream was actually a myth. The American settlers discovered just that....   [tags: Essays on the American Dream]

Free Essays
747 words (2.1 pages)

Pocahontas: A Great American Myth Essay

- Pocahontas: A Great American Myth John Smith's tales of the Indian princess, Pocahontas, have, over time, encouraged the evolution of a great American myth. According to this myth, which is common knowledge to most Americans, Pocahontas saved Smith from being killed by her father and his warriors and then fell in love with John Smith. Some versions of the myth popular among Americans include the marriage of Smith and Pocahontas. Although no one can be sure of exactly what happened almost four-hundred years ago, most historians agree that the myth is incorrect....   [tags: Native Americans History Essays]

Research Papers
1252 words (3.6 pages)

Sylvia Plath Essay

- Sylvia Plath was a gifted writer, poet and verbal artist whose personal anguish and torment visibly manifested itself in her work. Much of her angst stems from her warped relationship with her father. Other factors that influenced her works were her strained views of human sexuality, her sado-masochistic tendencies, self-hatred and her traditional upbringing. She was labeled as a confessional poet and biographical and historical material is absolutely necessary to understand her work. Syliva Plath was born on 27, 1963, in Boston, Massachusetts to Otto Emil Plath and Aurelia Schober....   [tags: Sylvia Plath Biography Biographies Essays]

Research Papers
2097 words (6 pages)

Related Searches

It's the same. It's all about CONTROL. Them trying to control you, you trying to control them. It's control." He looked back at her and grinned. "I found a way to get my own control."

"Why are you telling me this?"

"You write. You're smart. I haven't talked to a woman in weeks. Are you sure you don't want to come back to my place?"


"You prim little Boston girl. You're nothing like the girls in California."

"Why, what are they like?"

"Different." He paused and took something out of his pocket. The first acid test. "Here, I got this from the hospital. You seem a little uptight."

Sylvia felt uptight, but she didn't admit it. "What is that?"

"Nothing. Everything. Come on."

Sylvia remembered pills like this in her mother's medicine chest. "Is this Valium?"

"Yeah, sure, try it." Kesey was in control now.

It was the 50s, Sylvia was a woman, she didn't think twice. She quickly swallowed the pill down without water. He's a friend of the family after all... And out of her mouth came these words...

"I am a lantern--

My head a moon

Of Japanese paper, my gold beaten skin

Infinitely delicate and infinitely expensive.

Does not my heat astound you. And my light.

All by myself I am a huge camellia

Glowing and coming and going, flush on flush."

This girl has come up roses, thought Kesey as he popped his own pills.

Plath continued on the lawn facing Harvard from the East.

"I think I am going up,

I think I may rise--

The beads of hot metal fly, and I, love, I

Am a pure acetylene


Attended by roses,

By kisses, by cherubim,

By whatever these pink things mean.

Not you, nor him.

Kesey heard voices from the future. "Kesey was the magnet and the strength, the man in both worlds. The Angels respected him and they weren't about to screw him around" (Wolfe 179).


"That stuff is evil Ken. Evil... Why don't we write it down?" Sylvia was sprawled on the lawn, she looked at the Boston sky.

Kesey, still high, "What's it like though? Why isn't the world in the bird's nest there?"

"I think it is. It's all a test though. The blackness and the world. It's a test for us."

"You don't know what you're talking about." Ken was sprawled on the bench, used to this feeling. "I'm running this game." And you know why, he thought, you know why?

"Why?" Sylvia caught on to his thoughts. She knew why. Across the street, she turned, she saw the gates of Harvard, the gates of better writers than her. "They are better." More respected. Not guest editors for Mademoiselle. "Were you ever an editor for Time Ken?"

"Kesey was a great many things."

"Of course he was..." And Plath knew why. "You know what it's like being me? You know what it's really like?"

Ken looked at the bricks in the wall. "What's it like?"

"It's like being under a bell jar, in an experiment. It's like being in chemistry class."

"What's like chemistry class?" Ken hadn't paid much attention in chemistry.

"Being a girl. You wouldn't understand. You get everything more. People are going to know who you are someday. No one will ever know me." Plath laid down while her pleated skirt smeared the wet ground.

Kesey was on a different trip. "Except that bird. And it's nest. They know us."

"I'm stuck in this body. Stuck stuck stuck. It's black and burned and terrible and lucid. Being in this body with breasts," Ken's eyes lit up. Sylvia continued. She found her words tumbled out. She couldn't stop them. "Being in this burned charred body is like a big test. Some sort of test. Like a litmus test. Or no, an acid test. An acid test like in chemistry class. Burn right through my skin until there's nothing left." Sylvia got up to walk away, but quickly tumbled down again.

"An acid test, huh?" Kesey started thinking.

Return to