Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

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PSYCHOLOGY One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest Not too many books take you into the world of mental illness. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey does. It is told through the eyes of a mental patient named Chief Bromden. He is a northwest Indian, who is disturbed with hallucinations about machines taking over the world he knows. The mental hospital is in Oregon; a Nurse Ratched, has machine like control of everyone and everything in the ward. The only hint of her humanity is the fact that she posseses very large breasts, which she keeps tucked away under her neat-as-a-pin white uniform. The Chief has been there the longer than anyone except for Ratched. He uses this to his advantage by making the other people in the ward think he is deaf and dumb. Life in the ward is quiet until a new patient is admitted. His name is Radall Patrick McMurphy and he is a redheaded brute who smells of sweat, work, dirt and dust. He starts in by disrupting everything familiar in the ward, the silence, the admitting showers, and the way the black boys bully the patients around. He quickly makes friends with everyone including the Chronics who are vegetable like patients. McMurphy is a gambling man who insist that he wanted to come to the ward for an easier life than the one he had at work camp where he previously stayed. One of his first bets with the other patients is to make Ratched lose control of the ward without giving her an excuse to punish him. McMurphy leads the patients through numerous confrontations with the staff. He soon learns he can't leave the hospital without Ratched's approval, so he begins to obey her rules. By raising hopes he hasn't fulfilled, he leaves the patients worse off than before. One becomes so depressed he drowns himself. McMurphy plans a fishing trip for the ward and talks to Chief about it. The Chief speaks for the first time in years about the Combine: his world of the machines, the government, his own mother, who destroy freedom in favor of machine like conformity. He talks about how the Combine made his father "small" in the mind and how it is making him "small" in the mind as well. McMurphy makes another deal with Chief: if Chief can grow strong enough, mentally, to lift the control panel, then McMurphy will let him go on the fishing trip for free.
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