One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Research Paper

721 Words3 Pages
Sean Freebern One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Essay The 1950s—a time of change, conflict, and turmoil—also becomes the setting of Ken Kesey’s great American novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. In the ‘50s, Kesey worked the night-shift on a mental ward; concurrently, the government also paid him, as part of an experiment, to take LSD to discover its effects on the mind. Both Kesey’s time on the job and the influence of drugs led him to observe that many of the patients on the ward on which he worked didn’t seem “crazy” at all, just too different for society to accept. Kesey’s novel, therefore, helps challenge such damaging labels. Specifically, Kesey’s upbeat tone surrounding McMurphy’s humor and lighthearted characterization ultimately…show more content…
The other men immediately realize that Mac is like no other patient to step foot in the ward. After witnessing the depressing environment, Mac, “Commences to laugh... it’s free and loud…Even when he isn’t laughing, that laughing sound hovers around him…it’s in his eyes, it’s in the way he smiles and swaggers, in the way he talks” (16). His incredibly optimistic attitude starkly contrasts the dreary atmosphere the other patients are used to. A pure expression of joy is a such a rarity, that Chief notes, “It [was] the first laugh [he] had heard in years” (16). Laughter is the one thing that Nurse Ratched can’t control; this new found sense of freedom initially frightens the men. Chief describes the acutes as being, “Spooked and uneasy when he laughs, the way kids in a school room look when one ornery kid is raising too much hell with the teacher out of the room” (22). The oppressive nature of the ward has deprived the men of their masculinity, and demoted them to the status of mere children. Their fear of the omnipotent Ratched overpowers their desire to be free, as if their joy is an act of treason under her strict rule. Specifically, he inspires one patient, Billy, a stuttering, immature man who is empowered through the guidance of Mac. Billy had always been drowned out by his overpowering mother, who mentally

More about One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Research Paper

Open Document