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One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
Transcript of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
Counter-Culture Overview Theme Sixties Art Powerful Passages He began throwing parties at his home called Happenings that quickly became well known for their "acid tests". The place was bombarded with light and sound and intensified by barrel of "Electric Kool Aid". All of the guests would be given the drink containing acid and sent off to survive the labyrinth night as best they could. Ken quickly became an extremely popular figure in counterculture art as he continued to experiment with the definitions of reality. The story is opened by a paranoid schizophrenic named Chief Bromden who is a patient at an Oregon psychiatric hospital. Bromden's perspective is dominated by the fear of the what he calls the "Combine", which he thinks is huge organized mechanical force in society that controls everyone and their actions. He played deaf and dumb for his ten years in the hospital so that he could go unnoticed. A fiery new patient, Randle McMurphy arrives at the hospital and begins to stir things up. He encourages the other patients to rebel against the rules of Nurse Ratched who runs the ward, to regain their pride and independence from her control. Throughout the novel McMurphy pushes the other men to stand up for themselves to find their place in the world again. “The flock gets sight of a spot of blood on some chicken and they all go to peckin’ at it, see, till they rip the chicken to shreds, blood and bones and feathers. But usually a couple of the flock gets spotted in the fracas, then it’s their turn. And a few more gets spots and gets pecked to death, and more and more. Oh, a peckin’ party can wipe out the whole flock in a matter of a few hours, buddy, I seen it. A mighty awesome sight. The only way to prevent it—with chickens—is to clip blinders on them. So’s they can’t see.”
This is an explanation from McMurphy to Harding and the other men during a Therapeutic sessionabout what “Peckin Party” is . McMurphy watches at the men tear into Harding’s flaws asking him question to make him uncomfortable just to please Nurse Ratched.
After graduating from a creative writing program at Stanford in 1960, Kesey immediately began pulling together pieces of a storyline for his first and most influential novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Ken began his adult life with his newlywed wife Faye Haxby in Oregon where they eloped shortly after high school. They had three sons together while Ken attended the University of Oregon. While working a night job in the psych ward at a hospital, Kesey participated in government- funded testing of mind-altering drugs. He encountered LSD and many other hallucinogenic drugs for the first time and was strongly affected by them. He began having hallucinations while working on the ward, which inspired the storyline of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. In the summer of 1964 Kesey and his friends decided to take a road trip to New York, so Ken bought a bus for the whole crew. Dubbing themselves the Merry Pranksters, the gang painted the bus in psychedelic fashion and named it Further. The Pranksters went on gallivanting across the country on their LSD fueled bus trip. The Sixties are known for their diversity and turbulence, which resulted in some of the most drastic changes of the century. The youth broke out of the conservative culture of their parents’ generation, seeking self-expression and a different future. A growing sentiment for peace led to large protests and movements for various causes. A new awareness of individual influence led people to become social activists for a idealistic society.
The majority of the movements in the 60s were based around a peaceful utopia where individuals could achieve their own happiness. People desired a united society where humans received the rights they deserved. The Civil Rights movement and the movement to end the war in Vietnam were two widespread passions that contributed to much of the new Power to the People mentality. The art styles of the time looked to test the boundaries between art and reality. American consumerism exploded in the sixties and was strongly reflected by the artistic movement. Reproducing ideas and images from mass media was popular among the young artists. Andy Warhol Booming with new sounds and inspiration, music embodied the ideas of the culture. Artists like The Doors, Bob Dylan, and The Beatles were able to capture front page news events and give them a sound. Woodstock was one of biggest monumental music festivals the world has ever seen. Held in 1969, the mass concert lasted four days and brought in over half a million people. Power and Control Throughout the novel the characters struggle for power whether it be in controlling people into conforming to society, or desiring to regain independence. Nurse Ratched is the central controlling character in the novel as she constantly tries to restrict the men in the ward to submission. Bromden thinks that society is one large machine dictated by a mechanical force, The Combine. It directs all aspects of a society with its web of control. "She'll go on winning, just like the Combine, because she has all the power of the Combine behind her. She don't lose on her losses, but she wins on ours. To beat her you don't have to whip her two out of three or three out of five, but every time you meet. As soon as you let down your guard, as soon as you lose once, she's won for good. And eventually we all got to lose. Nobody can help that" “I been silent so long now it’s gonna roar out of me like floodwaters and you think the guy telling this is ranting and raving my God; you think this is too horrible to have really happened, this is too awful to be the truth! But, please. It’s still hard for me to have a clear mind thinking on it. But it’s the truth even if it didn’t happen.”
- Chief Bromden
This is from a section where Bromden is explaining what goes on around him. From the start we are shown the Chief’s paranoia, but here Bromden gives us this look into his perception of his surroundings. It makes the reader have an open mind about what his different reality may mean.
Character Analysis . The Lyrics to Bob Dylan's "Blowin in The Wind" speaks on war, destruction and how we must understand one another for any change to occur.
How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind Randle McMurphy
A bulky loud Irishman with a fiery spirit who enters the ward because he would rather claim insanity than go to a work-farm for the crimes he is charged for. He came into the ward, shook things up, and entirely altered the Nurse's System.
Kesey portrays him as a Christ-like figure when he arrived as a beacon of hope for the oppressed patients. His sacrificial death leads to revival of hope and awakening to both the other characters and the readers. Dale Harding
A highly intelligent college graduate who was the leader of the group in the ward before McMurphy's arrival. Harding is dominated by his incompetence relationships and his sexuality. There is strong hinting that he is a homosexual which is why he voluntarily admitted himself into the hospital. Harding is the one who urges McMurphy to rebel against the Nurse, but doesn't tell him of the possible consequences of no return until it is too late. It is unclear why Harding withholds this from a man he called his friend. Classic One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest is a classic because it forces the reader to reconsider the definite nature of reality. Kesey presents new ideas about what it meant to be mentally ill, what is socially acceptable, and what society is. The novel was very popular in its time because of the pertinent ideas, and continues to be a classic for the same thought provoking questions about controlling individuality.