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Sexuality in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest


Nurse Ratched is the overwhelming force over the hospital; she controls the hospital with a stern fist. She shows no compassions towards any of the patients or any of her co-workers. Dr. Spivey, who you would think would have more "say" over a Nurse because of his qualifications as a doctor, but has none compared to the "Big Nurse". "The doctor talks about his theory until the Big Nurse finally decides he's used up time enough and asks him to hush so they can get on to Harding, ..." (47). This reflects on the 60's idea that men should hold all controlling positions, and women should stay home and be housewives and shouldn't work. Ken Kesey wanted this effect that there is an opposing woman in charge, but has the strict manners of a man.


Nurse Ratched's appearance is strong and cold. She has womanly features, but suppresses them because she feels vulnerable being a women. Her Face is smooth, calculated, and precision-made, like an expensive baby doll, skin like flesh-colored enamel, blend of white and cream and baby-blue eyes, small nose, pink little nostrils-everything working together except the color on her lips and fingernails, and the size of her bosom. A mistake was made somehow in manufacturing putting those big, womanly breasts on what would of otherwise been a prefect work, and you can see how bitter she is about it. (11)


Nurse Ratched feels weakness and the other patients can see it. Most the patients have not stood up to the Nurse, because she has shattered their self-esteem. However, McMurphy has noticed this and used it to his advantage to "bust her chops".


He'd won his bet; he's got the nurse's goat the way he said he would,... even going so far as to step up to the Big Nurse in the hall one time and ask her, if she didn't mind tellin', just what was the actual inch-by-inch measurement on them great big ol' breasts that she did her best to conceal but never could. She walked right past on past, ignoring him just like she chose to ignore the way nature tagged her with those outsized badges of femininity, just like she was above him, and sex and everything else that's weak and of the flesh. (138)


McMurphy took shots at Nurse Ratched, poking fun at her femininity to show control over the patients. The patients see that it bugs Nurse Ratched, but because of her personality. She keeps her cool, and doesn't explode in McMurphy's face. Nurse Ratched's personality is one of a man's, but has a sexuality of a woman. She tries her best to smother the womanly side, to keep control over the patients.


McMurphy is a highly sexually active character. He was found guilty of rape and was sentenced to spend time at a work farm. "... Disturbing the Peace, repeated gambling, and one arrest-for Rape" (44). But he used his sexual relations as an excuse to be committed into the hospital, because he thought the hospital would be an easy way out. He has been to the work farm before, he doesn't want to do anymore hard work.


Doc-`repeated outbreaks of passion that suggest the possible diagnosis of psychopath.' He told me the `psychopath' means I fight for fuh-pardon me, ladies-means I am he put it overzealous in my sexual relations. Doctor, is that real serious? (46)


In that passage, McMurphy is trying to convince Dr. Spivey that he is psychopathic because of his sexual relations. McMurphy has always been associated back to sex. When the group went fishing, McMurphy passed his old house and saw a dress in the tree. This dress was owned by a girl who had sexual relationships with McMurphy when he was 10 years old! "The first girl ever drug me to bed wore that very wore that very same dress. I was about ten and she was probably less,..." (217). McMurphy is the complete contrast of Nurse Ratched. McMurphy illustrates everything natural in life, and Nurse Ratched is machine like and enforces the "Combine". McMurphy's sexuality represents humanity and everything natural in the hospital.


Billy Bibbit was a relatively quiet person before McMurphy came into the ward. When the group went on the fishing trip, he met a whore named Candy. In this part of the book, Billy is shown as an actual functioning person. He is really introduced as a living character. "Billy and the girl had climbed around to the bow and were talking and looking down in the water. (213)". Billy would just shout out his opinion, in a stutter before. Now though Billy's actions you can really see him healing, but it's not from the help of the hospital.


There is a strong sense of sexuality in "One Flew Over the cuckoo's Nest". Nurse Ratched is the strongest example, showing no sexuality at all. She keeps control over the ward without weakness, until McMurphy came. It seems that everyone in the ward, including the employees is insane. Once McMurphy came everyone on the ward began to heal or get better. McMurphy is the only sane person.


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