The Brothers K A Close Look At

The Brothers K: A Close Look At The 1960s Essay, Research Paper

The Brothers K–a close look at the


The 1960s was a decade that destroyed the traditional

view of living in America. It brought new ways of thinking

and fought the old ones. Before this decade, life was much

simpler in America. The average American went to church

regularly, obeyed the laws, and basically did whatever their

forefathers did, without any change. The 1960s destroyed

all of this. The hippies of today believe that ?it took a

megalithic event like the 60s to shatter the old energies to

let the new energies of peace, light and love shine through?

(zb.html). Perhaps this is not as far from the truth as we

may think.

The movement of the 1960s sought to break free from

tradition. It showed this in many ways. For instance, the

traditional view that sex should be saved for marriage was

utterly forsaken. In The Brother?s K, Everett, along with

many others, promoted free love, in which everyone willingly

gives their body to sex, with whomever they please. This

was a major belief of the hippie movement. Even Irwin, who

was the one who stayed closest to his Seventh Day Adventist

views of Mama, ended up falling in love and having a baby

before marriage. He found that it was too hard to stay

pure, when everyone else around him was promoting the


The reason so many of the people in the 1960s turned to

new ways of life, is that they decided ?every freedom

[should be] infinitely extended and voraciously enjoyed?

(fonda.html). These freedoms included sex, drugs, speech,

and anything else they could take advantage of. They did

not care what the authorities, such as their parents and the

police, had to say because they thought the authorities were

trying to stifle their freedoms. The people had the ability

to speak out and fight for their individual rights, so they

did. They started to uncover themselves from the blankets

of traditional society and dared to be themselves. They no

longer conformed, but did what they believed to be right.

This psychological shift to non-conformity frightened

conventional people because they did not know how to handle

the situation. They had never seen anything like it before.

Some of the people in the 1960?s even decided to

forsake the traditional view of religion, arguing that it

?use[s] fear, domination and oppression to terrify [it?s]

followers into giving the church all their individual power?

(zb.html). In The Brothers K, Kincaid, Everett, Peter and

Freddy all chose to follow this movement to forsake their

religion, though each to a different extent and in their own


After the ?Psalm Wars?, in which Everett and Mama

hurled beliefs at each other in a outrageous manner, Everett

forsook his traditional Seventh Day Adventist views

completely. He thought he had no need for this oppressing

religion. Instead, he took up speaking to large crowds,

speaking to them against the current political state of

America. Everett said that all that was needed was love,

peace and brotherhood. Meanwhile he had totally destroyed

his relationship with his mother.

Everett despised violence and believed that in an ideal

society, cruelty and violence would be legislated out of

existence. Because of these beliefs, Everett hated what was

happening in Vietnam. So when the time came for him to be

drafted into the army, he set his draft papers on fire and

fled to Canada. While in Canada he lived with his

girlfriend, Natasha, for a while until she got pregnant and

left him. After she left, Everett was devastated and began

to question himself and the powers that be. Soon after

this, Everett received word from Kincaid that Irwin had been

institutionalized by the army. Irwin had seen a young boy

murdered by his fellow army men. Irwin could not handle

this and the others became afraid that he would leak the

story. So to cover up, his colleagues marked him insane and

dillusionary. Upon coming back to America to save his

brother Irwin from the institution, Everett was thrown in

prison for being a ?draft-dodger?. During his time in

prison he received a letter from Natasha, saying that she

missed him and wanted him back. Everett soon came to

realize that there must be a higher power out there and,

because he refused to follow the tradition of calling it

God, he simply titled it ?You?. Although people such as

Everett forsook religion, they could not quite fill the void

that the absence of God left in their souls. Because of

this, most of them eventually came back to religion to a

certain extent.

Peter, on the other hand chose a totally different path

from his brother. All through his childhood, Peter had read

books of the Hindu and Buddhist religions. He incorporated

all three of the major religions, Christianity, Hinduism and

Buddhism to form his own beliefs. During college, Peter

received an opportunity to travel to India for a school

study project. He figured this must be his path to

enlightenment, so he went very willingly. Once he arrived

in India, he tried very diligently to live as the Indians

did. He traveled on the low class trains, ate the same food

and deprived himself from all other luxuries. However, he

soon began to realize that it was much harder to shake his

?American-ness? than he had first imagined. So, before

long, he was traveling in first class trains, living in

higher class places and eating much better food. However,

after he got scammed and robbed, he was forced to go back to

living like the poor. At this point, he finally realized

that this was not the path to enlightenment, so he returned

to America. When Peter got back he discovered that his way

of life was not so bad, and although the other religion?s

scriptures may be good to learn from, they were not really

the true path to salvation. Many others in the 1960s also

tried other religions but few found true satisfaction in any

of them.

Freddy again chose a different path from her siblings,

although hers was not quite as extreme. She decided that

instead of religion, the recent discoveries in science were

far more interesting. Taking after her grandmother, she

began to research science and tried many experiments.

Science even became a sort of religion for Freddy, it could

explain things in the world which she could never before

quite understand. The advancements in science surrounding

the 1960s lead to many atheistic views, but also led to more

unanswered questions. People were still trying to fill the

void where God was missing but couldn?t quite do it.

Many others in the 1960s found different manners in

which to avoid the traditional religious views. Papa found

baseball. Since his youth, he had never been a religious

man. His father had been a baseball player, so Papa decided

to take up his fathers career. It was all he needed in his

life, he played baseball and was happy. However this came

to an end one day when his thumb was crushed in a mill

accident. From that day on, Papa would never pitch normally

again. After this, he lost all hope in life, it was as if

his salvation had been lost. Papa soon took up smoking and

drinking to drown his sorrows. He still watched the

baseball games on TV while the rest of the family went to

church but he was not the same man as before. Then Kincaid

encouraged him not to give up, and Papa began to start

pitching in his backyard again. After a thumb surgery, he

returned to the ball diamond as a pitching coach and his

?religion? was once again restored. Papa had found

something other than the traditional religion to keep his

life meaningful. Others found satisfaction in love, music,

writing or any other thing that could keep them content.

The people of the 1960s also escaped conformity in

other ways, such as their ways of living. Since most of

them believed in ?free love?, there were a lot of unmarried

couples living together, something which was not lightly

done before this time. If one did not settle with a certain

person, they would give themselves freely to as many people

as they chose. They believed that the body was a beautiful

thing and it should be utilized to its full potential. The

shift from self-control to self indulgence was very evident

in the 1960s. Pleasure became the ultimate goal and free

love was one way of achieving it.

Others achieved this goal through things such as drugs

and music. Drugs were very prominent in this era because

they were believed to be a way of lifting the mind to

another level, a level never previously enjoyed by many of

them. Music became a way for people to express their

feelings and to make public their views of authority and

conformity. Even the way some dressed in the 1960s was a

way of escaping conformity. Up to this time the traditional

appearance for men included having short hair, and for women

it involved wearing a long dress. In the 1960s however, the

men grew long hair and beards, and wore brightly coloured

shirts and pants. The women, on the other hand, wore halter

tops, short shirts, mini skirts, and shorts. In summary,

practically anything that wasn?t previously worn was now

exhibited. This was a very strong display of


The non-conformists of the 1960s also didn?t see the

point in working in a job which they didn?t like. For

instance, in The Brothers K, Kincaid cannot understand why

Papa works in the mill when he knows he does not like it

there. Papa works long days doing the same thing time and

again, instead of doing what he really wants to do; play

baseball. One hippie belief that corresponds with this

tiresome mill work, is that ?there are some companies that

profit from human suffering, and they exploit human

suffering to increase their gains?(zb.html).

The Brother?s K carefully depicts all areas of the

1960s, the era of change and non-conformity. In the 1960s

people began to realize that they could live differently

from other people, and seek happiness in other ways. The

sought new ways of filling the void where God was supposed

to be. However, unfortunately for them, they usually ended

up unsatisfied. The 1960s have had a very strong influence

on todays? culture. For instance, there is a much higher

tolerance level for different beliefs and new ways of life,

than there were prior to the 1960s. The 1960s was an era of

experimenting and escaping the norm. After many years of

conservative traditionalism, people were ready for some

changes, so they made them happen. On the other hand,

although the 1960s was a tumultuous time and brought many

new ideologies, certain previous traditions, which were

still seen to be valuable, made their way through the decade

and are still alive and well today.


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