One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest

Topics: Hospital, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey Pages: 7 (2375 words) Published: November 9, 2011
3 May 2011
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
In the novel, “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” by Ken Kesey, the book has a lot of meaning, symbolism, and imagery. This book has been criticized by many around the country and has even been considered to be banned in high schools nationwide.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is seen as obscene, racist, immoral, and sexist to some eyes. It does have some bizarre language, and some obscene scenes, but every great literature attempts to give an accurate picture of some part of the human condition, which is less than perfect. (Sutherland 42) Being in a mental hospital, there are going to be some language that may be offensive and there also will be situations there that are a little obscene. Kesey’s book is set in a mental hospital; the language, attributes, and habits of the inmates are typical of disturbed men whose already distorted world is being further systematically dehumanized by the ward nurse. (Sutherland 42) People need to look past the racist language of the inmates or the non-appropriate behavior the mental patients are exposing and need to see the story in reality. The book wouldn’t be a good book if there wasn’t any misbehavior going on inside the hospital. These things happen in there. There is nothing Kesey can do to make everyone enjoy this book, but it is certainly one worth reading. Ken Kesey (1935-2001) was born on September 17, 1935 in La Junta, Colorado where he was raised on farms in Colorado and Oregon. At the University of Oregon, he participated in wrestling and track. On graduating he won a scholarship to Stanford. Kesey soon dropped out, joined the counterculture movement, and soon began experimenting with drugs. In 1956 he married his high school sweetheart, Faye Haxby and had three children together. In 1959 he volunteered to be a subject in experiments with hallucinogenic drugs like LSD and other psychotropic drugs, which were legal at the time. Kesey got paid 20 dollars a week for the experiments. Near the end of the experiments, he began working the night shift in a mental ward.

While working at the mental ward, Kesey started to feel like the patients weren’t really crazy after all, just more individualized that the rest of the world was willing to accept. Some of the novel was written while he was under the influence of LSD and peyote. Soon the US Government banned the substances and Kesey fled to Mexico to avoid prosecution, and later turned himself in for possession of marijuana and was jailed for five months. These hallucinogenic experiences would change his outlook and inspire his writings.

He published One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in 1962 which was his most successful book. The book also got made into a movie in 1975 where it won all five academy awards. In addition to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Kesey had other novels which include Sometimes a Great Notion, Caverns, Sailor Song, and Last Go Round.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is narrated by Chief Bromden, an Indian who is also a paranoid schizophrenic that is six feet, eight inches tall. He’s been in the ward the longest and he is believed to be deaf and mute by everyone around him. The plot for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is about a criminal, Randal Patrick McMurphy, who is sentenced for a short term for statutory rape gets transferred from a work camp to a mental hospital for evaluation. He wants to avoid hard labor and serve the rest of his sentence in the more relaxed mental facility. Although he has had past experiences with fights and rough behavior, he shows none of that at the mental hospital. Even though people have suspected that he was just acting to get out of working, he shows no sign of mental illness.

McMurphy’s ward is run by a brutal, hardened nurse who uses humiliation, unpleasant medical treatments, and boring and consistent daily routines to suppress her patients. McMurphy makes himself known as...

Cited: Reott, Jason. KEN KESEY Biography - Writers. . 3 May. 2011 <>.
Lone Star College-Kingwood Library. One Flew Over the Cuckoo 's Nest by Ken Kesey. . 1 May. 2011 <>.
Liukkonen, Petri. Ken (Elton) Kesey (1935-2001). . 4 May. 2011 <>.
Oregon Hustorical Society. Ken Kesey Biography. . 4 May, 2011 <>.
Sutherland, Janet. Defending a Controversial Book. : National Council of Teachers of English, 1972.
Boyd, George. McMurphy as Christ Figure. New York: Theology Today, 1972.
Boardman, Michael. McMurphy as Tragic Hero. : Journal of Narrative Technique, 1979.
Madden, Fred. Big Chief as Narrator and Executioner. West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue Research Foundation, 1986.
Wallace, Ronald. Comedy in Cucko 's Nest. : Curators of the University of Missouri, 1979.
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