In 1962, when One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (the Nest), was published, America was at the start of decade that would be characterized by turmoil. Involvement in Vietnam was increasing, civil rights marches were taking place in the south and a new era of sexual promiscuity and drug use was about to come into full swing. Young Americans formed a subgroup in American society that historians termed the “counterculture”. The Nest is a product of time when it was written. It is anti-authoritarian and tells the tale of a man's rebelling against the establishment. Kesey used metaphor to make a social commentary on the America of the sixties. In this paper I will deal with three issues that seem to strike out from the novel. First; is the choice that Kesey made in his decision to write the novel using first person narration. The second part of this paper will be an analysis of some of the metaphors and Kesey uses to describe America in the sixties. Finally I will speak about the some of the religious images that Kesey has put in the novel.
For the reader of the Nest, the most familiar character of the story would be Chief "Broom" Bromden, a half Indian, paranoid schizophrenic, who has been in the institution since World War two, (about 15 years). He spends his days dwelling in the clouded mind that his mental illness has produced. This illness is characterized by audio and visual hallucinations. He makes constant reference to the "fog," "the combine," and "the machine." Bromden lives in a world inhabited by people who have been implanted with machines. In part one of the novel, we read nothing but the delusions of a madman.
The novel opens ...
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...illan Company of Canada Limited, 1962.
Klein, Maxwell. The Images and Metaphors of Flower Children. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1988.
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Semino, Elena, and Swindlehurst, Kate. Metaphor and Mind Style in Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Northern Light (online posting) Spring 1996. <www.northernlight.com/cgi-bin/pdserv?cbecid=6619970923010053874&ho=monsoon&po=508&cb=0>
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