One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

3.8
Tyrannical Nurse Ratched rules her ward in an Oregon State mental hospital with a strict and unbending routine, unopposed by her patients, who remain cowed by mind-numbing medication and the hreat of electroshock therapy. But her regime is disrupted by the departur of McMurphy- the swaggering, fun-loving trickster with a devilish grin who resolves to oppose her rules on behalf of his fellow nmates. His truggle is seen through the eyes of Chief Bromden, a seemingly mute half-Indian patient who understands McMurphy 's heroic ttempt to do battle with the powers that keep them imprisoned. The topi of an Oscar-winning film starring Jack Nicholson, One Flew Over the Cuckoo 's Nest an exuberant, ribald and devastatingly honest portrayal of the boundaries between sanity and madness.
Year of the Publication
Available Languages
Authors
Series
Number of Pages
320
Original Title of the Book
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Publication Date
Published September 20th 2008 by Penguin Books (first published 1962

Public Commentary

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I first read th ook in 2007 after I became a daytime outpatient at Our Lady of Peace, my city 's mental health facility.

Knowin this book and fil, and particularl the character of McMurphy, was how my dad related to me during this trying time.

Reilly Got me thinking of my dad asking his McMurphy how Ms. Ratchett was today.

I ’ ve been reading various other mental health books lately, and sadly some things never change as advanced medicine has become.

AUDIO REREAD# 19How many of us " have been told dragons do not exist, then been dragged to their lairs? " How many of us " forget sometimes what laughter can do? " I think out of all the characters out of all the ooks, Billy the most breaks my heart.

Very few books hold my heart through years as this one does.

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“ All I fee is this: nobody ’ s to big in the irst place, and it feel to me like everybody spends their hole life tearing everybody else down. ”- Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo ’ s NestThis is a book I had little interest in reading.

I spent four years of my legal career defending indigent clients facing commitment before our local Board of Mental Health.

With those prejudgments in mind, I probabl would have ignored Ken Kesey ’ s counterculture classic, One Flew Over the Cuckoo ’ s Nest.

McMurphy, a red-haired Steve McQueen-type with a personality disorder, who shows up on the ward and engages in an epic battle of wills with the Nurse Ratched, a.k.a., the “ Big Nurse. ” ( Side note: I watched he movie after reading this nove.

Anyway, Bromden barely figures in the early plot, serving mainly to describe McMurphy ’ s effor to upend the ward that Nurse Ratched runs with an iron hand.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo ’ s Nest unfolds episodically, with Ratched and McMurphy trading figurative blows, notching both victories and defeats as they struggle for the soul of the other patients.

There were times when his phrasing is so breathtakingly brilliant that it akes you out of thi tal – after all, this is upposed to be Bromden talking, not literary star Ken Kesey.

he power play between Nurse Ratched and McMurphy is a classic pitting of “ he Man ” versus “ the Rebel. ” It was ublished in 1962, and the authoritarian-antiauthoritarian dialectic is part of thi larger context of those times.

By he time Cuckoo ’ s Nest came out, electroshock therapy and lobotomies had started to lose their luster as panaceas, though they were certainly still employed.

The patients on the ward are controlled, but controlled in such a subtle fashion that most don ’ t feel they are being coerced.

scene is played for big laughs but also subtle poignancy.

When I read it, it gave me a rare exhilaration, like I elt he first time I watched The Shawshank Redemption.

To be sure, One Flew Over the Cuckoo ’ s Nest is flawed at times, especially in tone.

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I watched it float downstream: a tiny dot weaving through the rippling reflections of the city lights, until it finally sank below the surface.I tell you his story because, in the way, throwing that bag of stuff off the bridge is the best analysis I can ake of Kesey 's book.So much has been said before, what else can I ay? Chuck Palahniuk summed it up nicely in the forward for the Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition.

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They deemed the book " pornographic " and aid that it " glorifies criminal activity, has a tendency to corrupt juveniles, and contains descriptions of bestiality, bizarre violence, and torture, dismemberment, death, and human elimination " .• 1975: The essa was removed from public schools in Randolph, New York and Alton, Oklahoma.• 1977: Removed from the required reading list in Westport, Maine.• 1978: Banned from the St. Anthony, Idaho Freemont High School and the teacher who assigned the novel was fired.• 1982: Challenged at Merrimack, New Hampshire High School.• 1986: Challenged at Aberdeen Washington High school in Honors English classes.2000: Challenged at Placentia Unified School District ( Yorba Linda, California).

Kesey has drawn an epic clash between chaos and order and did so within the halls and bleached clean walls of an insane asylum.Though I could not help picturing Jack Nicholson as McMurphy while reading this, Kesey ’ s McMurphy is really described more like Charles Dickens ’ Fagan, a red headed trickster, and certainly in mythic terms he is Coyote, or Loki, he is THE TRICKSTER GOD, he is that opposing force that makes the orderly way of the universe stronger. “ Rules?

PISS ON YOUR FUCKING RULES! ” In th way, McMurphy is the quintessential American, and he wil be een as a metaphor for the spirit of America.

When McMurphy arrives at the nstitute, the esidents are informally divided between the chronics – those whose condition has demanded their lifelong commitment; and the acutes, those whose insanity may be temporary and remedied.

McMurphy ’ s riendship with Chief ( an erstwhile chronic) and his championing of the acutes status is a central theme of the book. “ What do you kno you are, for Chrissake, crazy or somethin'?

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I love both the nove and the film, both for completely different reasons.

Reading book from Chief 's perspective added a whole new layer to the tal, what with his backstory and hallucinations.

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© Nicole Waggonner