One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest

Good Essays
Kurt LaShure
23 March 2013
AP Literature
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Racist, Sexist, or both? The novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest takes place in 1962. During that period there were a lot of racial and gender-defining issues within society. African Americans were called black people and women during that time stayed home while their husbands went to work. Back in that time, women did not have the right to vote. Racial and gender disagreements were heavily bombarding society as a whole.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest has been criticized for its treatment of race and gender because the style of writing can often times been seen as racy. Due to many different themes in the story, such criticism is deserved because of its blatant misuse of imagery that depicted woman and black men in the story. The nurse, Nurse Ratched, is seen as a powerful mother figure. Nurse Ratched is the lady that many people refer to as a machine, she is a nurse in the Institute and everybody hates her. Nurse Ratched controls everyone and everything in the Institute. Every patient on the ward is scared of her. Most often, Nurse Ratched is telling someone what to do, or reminding the patients of something. She most often says stop doing this or stop doing that or behave this way or behave that way. For the most part she is a mother figure, but later on in the novel there are sexual undertones. Mostly with McMurphy, especially during the scene when his towel falls and all he is wearing are boxers.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s nest can be interpreted as racy when referring to the black boys by the color of their skin. The politically correct term would be the African American boys. The author would only do this for a certain reasons; to provoke the reader, or to get a certain reaction. Also, the only thing the black boys do in the novel are do chores, which can be interpreted as being racy.
If this novel was a stereotype I think that the men of the ward would have more power,

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