Precis for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Ken Kesey, born Kenneth Elton Kesey was an American author and countercultural figure, born September 17, 1935, La Junta, CO and died November 10, 2001, Eugene, OR. He was married to Norma Faye Haxbey, and they had four children: Zane, Jed, Shannon, and Sunshine Kesey. Kesey considered himself a link between the Beat Generation of the 1950s and the hippies of the 1960s in that he, and I quote, "was too young to be a beatnik, and too old to be a hippie," (Ken Kesey, 1999). Apparently, the inspiration for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest came while he working on the night shift at the Menlo Park Veterans' Hospital. There, he often spent time talking to the patients. He did not believe that these patients were insane, but rather that society had pushed them out because they did not fit the conventional ideas of how people were supposed to act and behave. Because of this, the novel takes place in America in a time of individuality and rebellion, which are also two major themes which appear in the novel. Everything takes place in an Oregon psychiatric hospital, around the 50’s and 60’s. A few major characters include:
Chief Bromden, the 6’7 half-Indian narrator of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, has been a patient in at the psychiatric hospital for ten years. His paranoia is evident from the first lines of the book, and he suffers from hallucinations and delusions. His most prominent fear is that of what he calls the “Combine,” basically some sort of huge system that controls society and forces conformity. Bromden pretends to be deaf and dumb and tries to go unnoticed. Randle McMurphy is a transfer from Pendleton Work Farm, and while he starts of simply as a rebellious, charismatic man who loves “women and cards,” his character evolves to become a leader of sorts, in the beginning due to his insubordination and having stood up for several patients and in the end actually helping the patients in many ways (ex:...
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