Chessman’s Ghost (1960–1974)

Theodore Hamm

in Rebel and a Cause

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2001 | ISBN: 9780520224278
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520925236 | DOI:
Chessman’s Ghost (1960–1974)

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On May 3, 1960, it was was declared that Chessman would be executed on the same day. Many people were against it and blamed the United States for this decision. He was executed in the gas chamber at San Quentin prison. Two prominent intellectuals, Paul Goodman and Norman Mailer, blurred the distinction between political and cultural radicalism and analyzed Chessman's case in terms of its revelations about American sexual mores. Goodman interpreted Chessman's execution as an example of America's harsh sexual norms, and he characterized the “tone” of anti-Chessman sentiment as “violently, sickening, sadistic, pornographic, and vindictive.”

Keywords: Caryl Chessman; execution; sexual mores; Paul Goodman; Norman Mailer

Chapter.  10879 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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