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

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Kenneth Elton “Ken” Kesey September 17, 1935 – November 10, 2001, was an American author, best known for his novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” He considered himself to be the link between the Beat Generation of the 1950’s and the hippies of the 1960’s. Some of his works include “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1962)”, “Genesis West: Volume Five (1963)”, “Sometimes a Great Notion (1964)”, “Kesey’s Garage Sale (1973)”, “Demon Box (1986)”, “Caverns (1989)”, “The Further Inquiry (1990)”, “Sailor Song (1992)”, “Last Go Around (1994 written with Ken Babbs)”, “Twister (1994)” and “Kesey’s Jail Journal (2003)”.

Ken Kesey’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is set in a Oregon asylum; written in 1959, it was the product of Kesey’s time working in the graveyard shift as an orderly in a mental health facility in Menlo Park, California. Kesey at that time was also taking psychoactive drugs (Peyote and LSD) as a part of Project MKULTRA. During his night shift at the hospital Kesey spoke to the patients and witnessed the working of the institute, he started to feel that the patients were not really crazy but were just more individualized than society was willing to accept. Parts of the novel were written while he was under the influence of the drugs and hence might have influenced his writing. The setting of the novel takes place in the 1950’s when many of the nation’s younger generation began to challenge conformity. Nurse ratchet represented the power and control of the government and the patients represent the people being manipulated by the nurse.

The title “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” comes from or rather refers to the shock therapy induced recollection of the Chief’s childhood playing with his grandmother. The Chief remembe...

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... MeMurphy’s intelligence and cunning is lowered.

In the end both the movie and the book are very interesting and among many other things also hint towards physical and moral courage, group effort, morality, challenging the symbols of conformity, human freedom vs. control, power of laughter; all of which were the general norms of the society when Kesey wrote his masterpiece.

Works Cited

Ken Kesey. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” New York: The New American Library, 1962.

Lone Star College System. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Lone Stat College Systems. 30 July 2011

The Internet Movie Database. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975).” IMDb. 30 July 2011

Wikipedia. “Ken Kesey.” Wikipedia July 2011. 30 July 2011
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