Covetous from the Crib: An Analysis of Ken Kesey’s Central $ymbol
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Most affluent Americans love feeling philanthropic. Many of us privileged people enjoy the sensation because we feel we are genuinely improving the world by giving to the “less fortunate.” Yet, so many “successful” Americans secretly despise the people who are “less fortunate,” casting them off as “lazy” or “selfish.” After all, why should we share? We have worked hard for whatever status we have achieved. Why should we care about the children of other people? Or, why do we not care about these sad situations? From where do our notions of charity come? One source might be a mere board game—a board game employed interestingly by great novelist Ken Kesey in the hippy Bible he wrote in 1962 to teach readers about the ways he was perceiving American ways of life. Kesey inserts the game of Monopoly as the central symbol in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest because it signifies society and the corrupt desire for absolute power.
Kesey strategically includes Monopoly in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, not to be overlooked by the readers, but to exemplify society’s greediness. To start Monopoly the players must select a “banker.” Because the banker is responsible to pay the players ever time they pass “Go” and also collect the money as players purchase a property, house, or hotel; the banker is highly respected. Each player chooses a piece to represent themselves on the board. Then they receive $1,500 to supposedly start the game off fair, but in reality the banker has a slight advantage over the others because they start the game. When it is a player’s selected turn, they roll the dice, which is merely chance. Throughout the game, you purchase title deeds and houses or hotels to place on “your property” to gain control. If an...
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...ciously brutal the game can get. Ken Kesey knew that he would get his main idea of how twisted society truly is by using the symbol Monopoly. Statistically, by obtaining control and power people feel hopeful, freedom, and more pleasure in their life than without. Without the feeling of control, people become more at risk for disorders and develop more stress in their life. Unfortunately, there is only one “winner” with many “losers” in Monopoly and also in society.
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