One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
Originally Published: 1962
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey is a classic.
This book is used for topic discussions of mental health issues in the 1960’s, institutionalism, individualism, drug and alcohol abuse, racism…. One of the most banned books in the 70’s and 80’s because of it’s “violence”, torture, death, pornography and the possibility of corruption of minors.
I don’t care about any of that. This was not written to be studied. This is fiction. This is a really “fun” yet sad book. It’s a classic!
The book takes place in a mental hospital in Oregon. We see everything unfold through the eyes of Chief Bromden, a supposed deaf mute who knows all the secrets on the ward. Randle McMurphy is a rather boisterous, fun-loving rebel who gets transferred from a normal prison to the mental hospital, figuring it will be easier to serve his time there. He may have mis-judged this. He ends up taking over the ward, by uniting the patients. He openly challenges the Head Nurse (Ratched), sneaks in women and booze, starts gambling games, and gets the other patients to stand up for their rights. Ratched herself is a tyrannical nightmare who has total control over the patients and staff. She thinks nothing of with-holding medications or giving the patient shock therapy on a whim. It becomes a battle between McMurphy and Ratched to see who can win. Unfortunately, we must remember which one really has the power. It’s not going to end well for some of our residents.
The other characters in this book, like Billy Bibbit who is so shy he stutters; Dale, who has been hiding his homosexuality; Sorenson, a germaphobe; Danny who hallucinates, and so many more, only add to the over-all insanity (no pun intended). They keep the book fresh, funny, wonderful.
This is a great book, and deserves to be read, even 50 years later.
Favorite Quotes From One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest:
“Man, when you lose your laugh you lose your footing.”
“He Who Marches Out Of Step Hears Another Drum”
“Three geese in a flock
One flew East
One flew West
And one flew over the cuckoo’s nest”