57 pages 1 hour read

Tom Wolfe

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

Nonfiction | Biography | Adult | Published in 1968

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Chapters 16-19

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 16 Summary: “The Frozen Jug Band”

In the fall of 1965, the Vietnam Day Committee held an anti-war rally on the University of California campus in Berkeley and invited Kesey to speak. Rather than reject the invitation or attend and deliver a sincere message, Kesey and the Pranksters decide to make a joke of it. They plan to dress in military regalia and have their bus led onto campus by the Hell’s Angels, but the Pranksters get a late start that day, then they are pulled over by the cops, and then the Hell’s Angels do not show up. The rally organizers had planned to use their array of speakers to “keep building up momentum and tension and suspense until finally when it is time for action,” which was a planned march Oakland Army Terminal, the point from which troops and supplies are shipped to Vietnam (220).

Kesey is the second-to-last speaker, going on right after well-known activist Paul Jacobs. When he takes the stage, the pranksters come with him and begin setting up their musical instruments. Kesey chides the crowd that they are playing their game, telling them that they are not going to stop the war by holding rallies. He tells them that rallies such as theirs are really all about egos, just like wars are (223-24).