One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest

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Unit 2 Individual Project One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey, was published in 1962. The story is set in a mental hospital and is narrated by the character Chief Bromden. Chief Bromden tells the story of a fellow inmate, Randle McMurphy, who is in the hospital to avoid serving the rest of his prison sentence on the claim of insanity. Randle McMurphy is rebellious and stands up to the cruel Nurse Ratchet all throughout the novel. The novel discusses the various treatments given to patients in the mental facility such as anti-psychotic drugs, electroshock therapy, and lobotomies. Randle McMurphy receives electroshock therapy and is eventually ordered to undergo a lobotomy. He is suffocated in the end by Chief Bromden before his escape. The novel was influenced by events and experiences in Ken Kesey’s own life. One major influential factor in writing One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest was Ken Kesey’s work at a Veteran’s Administration hospital in Palo Alto, California (Barnard, par. 11). Ken Kesey first went to the hospital to volunteer for experiments using drugs. “Kesey was paid to ingest a number of psychedelic substances including LSD, an experience that led to his own experimentation with hallucinogenics in order to heighten consciousness” (Ken, par. 8). Later on Ken Kesey was hired to work at the hospital. “He was hired as an aide at the hospital where he worked third shift” (Ken, par. 8). His work at the hospital and the drugs had a major impact in his life. According to Whitley and Goodwin:
He started to feel that the patients were not really crazy after all, just more individualized than society was willing to accept. Parts of this novel were written while he was under the influence of LSD and peyote. Kesey 's specialty at the time was green Kool-Aid laced with LSD (par. 2).
Ken Kesey based the secondary characters in the book on the real-life people he met at the Veteran’s Administration hospital (Whitley and Goodwin, par. 3). While in



Cited: “Ken Kesey.” Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2011. Web. 8 May 2011 .

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