One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest Literary Analysis

Topics: Beat Generation, Psychiatric hospital, Allen Ginsberg Pages: 7 (2818 words) Published: October 8, 2008
Ken Kesey was born on September 17th, 1935 in La Junta, Colorado. While he was in a fellowship to Stanford's Writing Program he worked at a Californian Veterans' Administration hospital in the psychiatric ward as a night guard ("KnowledgeNotes Study Guide", par. 1). Kesey's first published book was One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which was published in 1962. Many of the experiences Kesey endured while working at the hospital were inspirations for the book ("KnowledgeNotes Study Guide", par. 1). The novel was written in the Post War period and was part of the Beat Movement. I believe that Kesey wrote this book to show people that patients in psychiatric wards aren't really sick and crazy; they are just misunderstood outcasts of society. Kesey received his Bachelors of Arts degree from the University of Oregon in 1957. Afterwards, he participated in a fellowship to Stanford University's Writing Program, while he also worked as a night attendant at a Californian Veterans Hospital in the Psychiatric ward. While at the hospital Kesey volunteered for government sponsored experiments involving psychedelic drugs such as LSD and Methamphetamines. He soon became addicted to how much more aware he seemed while under the influence of the drugs and began taking them regularly, he even wrote parts of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest while under the influence of peyote ("KnowledgeNotes Study Guide", par. 2-3). In 1966, Kesey was arrested for possession of marijuana and faked his own suicide by placing his bus on a cliffside road with a note reading "Ocean, Ocean, I'll beat you in the end", and fled to Mexico. Unfortunately his facade failed and he was eventually brought back to America and prosecuted and sent to jail for 5 months ("Ken Kesey", p.6). Kesey's final work was a poem calling for peace for Rolling Stone magazine after 9/11. Kesey died weeks later from complications following an operation for liver cancer, at the age of 66, in November of 2001 ("KnowledgeNotes Study Guide", par. 7). One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was published in 1962 and was part of the Post War Period, which is a smaller subcategory of Postmodernism ("Author Page"). The Post War Period consisted of the years immediately following World War II, which showed a return in the popularity of traditional values and romantic idealism ("Post-War Period", par. 1). This period involved styles inspired by the civil rights movement, the feminist movement, the rise of folk and rock culture, and the rising amount of disapproval towards the government due to the war in Vietnam. First person perspective is very dominant in pieces form the Post-War Period, as in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The Post-War Period embraces the mundane such as realism, but also involves more experimentation than novels from the Modern Period did. Post-War Period literature is unique because of its gut level honesty and skepticism for all things idyllic ("Post-War Period", pars. 2-5). The Sixties were a very important time for America. The entire country was revolting for some reason or another. If it wasn't the African- Americans or women protesting for equal rights, the students were protesting the war in Vietnam, and the literature from that time represents America's unrest. Also the Counterculture was at its forte when this book was published. The Counterculture involved extensive drug use and sex, and was a turning point in American culture. The strict and proper ways that were very important in the 1930's through the 1950's, were all suddenly unimportant. People could openly talk about things that were previously shunned upon such as sexual orientation and drug use. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest demonstrated this and was very open about such issues. Ken Kesey was a member of the Beat Generation, considering himself "too young to be a beatnik, and too old to be a hippie" (Elder). The Beat Generation was first formed in the mid-1950's and showed a strong connection between literature and...

Cited: "Authors Page." ProQuest Learning: Literature. 2007. 9 May 2007

2007. . "Metaphor Analysis." NovelGuide. 2007. 16 May 2007 .
"Protagonist." Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 20 May. 2007. .
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