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One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
The significance of the title can be interpreted in this quote. The story is about a struggle in a psychiatric ward, where many “cuckoos'; reside, “Ting. Tingle, tingle, tremble toes, she’s a good fisherman, catches hens, puts ‘em in pens… wire blier, limber lock, three geese inna flock… one flew east, one flew west, one flew over the cuckoo’s nest… O-U-T spells out… goose swoops down and plucks you out.'; This is where the title comes from, the cuckoo’s nest being the psychiatric ward and McMurphy being the goose who plucks “you'; out.
The author of this book is Ken Kesey, also author of Demon Box and Sometimes a Great Notion. Kesey was born in La Junta, Colorado. He graduated from the University of Oregon, and later studied a Stanford. Kesey was head of a group called The Merry Pranksters, who traveled around the country staging happenings. Kesey’s playful attitude is reflected in the main character, McMurphy, who is often pulling pranks in the psychiatric ward.
The oppression of society is a big theme in the novel. The narrator (Chief Bromden) often reflects on how the Combine is taking over. The Big Nurse is never happy unless there is complete order in her ward. She often holds group meetings, in which she belittles her patients to where they are merely rabbits, and not men. Often, when a patient would act inflammatory, she would place him in Disturbed. There was always the threat of Electro-shock therapy, and even lobotomy. The only way to get out of the ward was if you gave up your personality and conformed to her rules. Most of the patients who are in the ward were forced there because of the oppression they faced outside of the hospital. Chief Bromden’s father was the chief of his village. The government was trying to push him off his land, and although he tried to maintain his way of life, his people were being bribed, and his wife would work on him too, until all he became was a drunk, inept man. Harding (another patient) committed himself because he couldn’t take society’s forefinger pointing at him, whilst millions chanted, “Shame, shame, shame!'; Even at the climax of the novel, McMurphy wasn’t acting on his own. “We could...
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...night, have to crawl around on my hands and knees feeling underneath the springs till I find my gobs of gum stuck there. Nobody complains about the fog. I know why, now; as bad as it is, you can slip back I it and fell safe. That’s what McMurphy can’t understand, us wanting to be safe. He keeps trying to drag us out of the fog, out in the open where we’d be easy to get.'; – Chief Bromden commenting on the fog. This quote illustrates the fog, which symbolizes confusion and naivete of the patients. Ignorance is bliss to these people and it’s hard for McMurphy to understand that.
“Old Rawler. Cut both his nuts off and bled to death, sitting right on the can in the latrine, half a dozen people with him didn’t know it till he fell off to the floor, dead. What makes people so impatient is what I can’t figure; all the guy had to do was wait.'; – Chief Bromden reflecting on the dead guy. This quote helps set the mood for the novel and many of the patients. They seem to possess a prison-like attitude, with scorn and cynicism. It also shows that the ward is not a nice place to live; kind of depressing.
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