One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, Counterculture

Topics: Hippie, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey Pages: 3 (965 words) Published: March 29, 2006
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, written by Ken Kesey in 1962, is a book about a lively con man that turns a mental institution upside down with his rambunctious antics and sporadic bouts with the head nurse. Throughout the book, this man shows the others in the institution how to stand up for themselves, to challenge conformity to society and to be who they want to be. It is basically a book of good versus evil, the good being the con man R.P. McMurphy, and the bad being the head nurse, Nurse Ratched. McMurphy revitalizes the hope of the patients, fights Nurse Ratched's stranglehold on the ward, and, in a way, represents the feelings of the author on society at the time.

Before R.P. McMurphy arrives, the ward is your basic average mental institution. Men line up to receive their medication, they do puzzles and play cards, and the evil head nurse and her muscle, a group of big black fellows, carry patients off to be shaved or for electroshock therapy. The people can't do anything about it, though. After all, some of them are vegetables, and according to society they're all nuts. Then one fateful day, McMurphy blows in and breathes some fresh air into the ward. He's loud, he cracks jokes, and, as he said of himself, "I'm a gambling fool…and whenever I meet with a deck of cards I lays…my money…down." Nobody was sure whether he was crazy or he was just acting like it to get out of the work camp he transferred from. Soon enough people realized that either way, he had it out for Nurse Ratched.

At first, the head nurse Nurse Ratched, tries to ignore him. After all, plenty like himself had come and gone. Most of them had been treated with a little electroshock and they were down to normal, or as normal as someone in a nuthouse could be. She tried to get him to the shower, a cleaning process all incoming patients have to go through. He says that he's plenty clean. Soon it became clear he had to be dealt with. He taught the...
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