One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Gender Roles

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In an ideal utopian world, women would live equally in all aspects of life. Although this might seem like a fascinating idea, it is non-existent in society. The 1950’s was a time defined by traditional gender roles as women as homemakers and men as breadwinners. With the emergence of the 1960’s, however, the stereotypical gender roles were challenged as American society was alternated in “drug culture, the Civil Rights Movement, and the second wave of feminism” (Napierski-Prancl 229). During the social shifts, American authors, such as Ken Kesey, reacted to the change through writing. His reaction was expressed in his 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which is not only a about insanity, but it is also a response to changing gender roles. Kesey’s novel was a triumph mostly because it gives an inside view of the institution. The first person narrative of a patient, Chief Bromden, makes the setting normal and encourages the readers to focus on the personalities of the patients rather than perceiving them as mere stereotypes of disability. Although the novel…show more content…
When introducing the men of the facility to Murphy, Harding states that they are all “sly and frightened, and elusive and […] (dig) holes and (hide) when the wolf is about”—they are the “rabbits,” “the weak” (Kesey 57). Harding explains to McMurphy that there are two categories: the weak and the strong. He, the doctor, and the majority of the patients are the weak rabbits. Nurse Ratched, however, is the strong wolf. By insisting the world “This world… belongs to the strong, my friend” (Kesey 57) and identifying himself as a rabbit, Harding expresses his emotions of lack of masculinity. He states the men are just in the asylum because they “can’t adjust to [their own] rabbithood”, and implies that it is part of their

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