One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest


Recently I read One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey and it was another book I really enjoyed (I rarely don’t enjoy books actually).

My favorite part was the ending; I thought there were a few parts of the book that actually dragged a lot, with a bit of excessive detailing. However, it was interesting to get caught up in “the Chief’s” mind. The most interesting part of the novel, in my opinion, was not clearly understanding if what one is reading is the truth or just a fabrication of a mentally unstable mind. There are moments when a reader understands that Chief Bromden has mental issues (thus his long-lasting stay in the asylum), when he skips taking his medication and vividly sees the machinery underneath the floor and behind the walls. He has some sort of paranoia where he believes that “the Combine” is controlling everyone, even himself at times, and that most people have at least some machinery inside of them. There is also the fog that overtakes him which he believes is pumped into the asylum by the Combine. The Combine itself can be representative of Nurse Ratched, who controls the patients and the entire system in a robotic, highly monitored fashion that has little to no change on a daily basis. She was able to control the patients, manipulating their mental anguishes and exacerbating their self-esteem issues, even leading to the death of Billy Bibbit through threats that she knew would give her the results she sought and give her an excuse to end the reign of McMurphy for good. The fog is the Chief’s escape when he cannot deal with the current situations around him and he becomes overwhelmed and enveloped in this fog that he thinks is intentionally being flushed into the room to put the patients into a submissive state. The characters all have some sort of mental illness, most of which seems like a kind of self-esteem related issue causing them to be unable to deal with society. When Randle McMurphy finally comes and upsets the quiet, calm balance Nurse Ratched had created in her asylum is when the other patients are able to gain more control over their lives and their self-esteem issues, especially the Chief who finally abandons his deaf/mute act. McMurphy does not have a clear mental issue, which leads readers to almost believe his story about going to the asylum out of boredom and the desire to escape the work farm. He has clear gambling and anger issues which eventually bring him to his “end” where a lobotomy makes him into a vegetable. Although it may seem that the Chief made a rash and cruel decision in killing McMurphy, it can also be assumed that he would have wanted that kind of end to his life. McMurphy lived his life on the edge and acted impulsively – being in a vegetative state would not be the way Randle McMurphy would live on in his remaining years. The only way he would need to go out at this point would be to have a gigantic, mental asylum Indian chief descendant smother him and then flee the center through seemingly impossible means.

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