Discussion Questions

Study Questions

1. In many ways throughout the novel, McMurphy is portrayed as a Christ-like figure. What specific details does Kesey use to create this parallel?

2. While Chief Bromden is the narrator and the novel is told exclusively from his perspective, McMurphy is the clear protagonist of the novel. In your own words, give a definition of the term “protagonist” and explain how McMurphy’s character supports this definition.

3. Throughout the novel, Chief Bromden describes certain hallucinations that he experiences. What are his recurring hallucinations? How do each of his hallucinations work to convey a deeper meaning and truth about what is happening in the world of the novel?

Essay Topics

1. Criticisms of sexism and racism have often been leveled at One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. What elements of the novel might contribute to these charges? In your opinion, is the novel racist and/or sexist? Using specific examples from the novel, defend your interpretation of how the novel portrays women and/or minorities.

2. At the end of the novel, Chief suffocates McMurphy to death in his bed. In your opinion, is this a justifiable action? Defend your argument using specific details from the text.

3. Ken Kesey did not approve of the film adaptation of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, in part because the film version leaves out Chief Bromden’s narration. Watch the film, and then write an essay comparing and contrasting the two versions.

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