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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Introduction

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by

Peter Eliot

on 2 September 2016

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Transcript of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Introduction

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
by Ken Kesey

Who is Ken Kesey?

Born in 1935, died in 2001

His time at Menlo was spent interviewing patients...and participating in drug studies.
One of those drugs?
LSD.
Though it's difficult to tell...

Because Kesey spent so much time in a hospital,
one of the things the novel discusses
is Behaviorism: the idea in psychology that
all behaviors are acquired through conditioning

One of the most famous behaviorists was
Ivan Pavlov, whose experiment with training dogs
is world re-nowned.
So he did the rational thing:
he co-authored a book about it.
What does one name a book
while on LSD?

Why "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test," of course.
This comic confuses the crap out of me...
Pavlov used classical conditioning
to train his dogs; using a carefully planned
conditioned stimulus
-- a bell -- dogs would
think that food was arriving and would salivate.
Allegory - typically a narrative in prose, verse, or drama that self-consciously presents its meaning through concrete symbols. The significance of a given symbol, however, is determined by the conventions of the allegory as a whole. An allegory has at least two levels of meaning: the literal level of the immediate narrative and the political, historical, philosophical or moral commentary the author intends to be recognized. Thus allegories are generally didactic in focus.
Let’s try this again:
Allegory - An imaginative device used in literature whereby a work takes on a secondary meaning conveyed by symbols and allusions. Allegories are usually meant to teach the reader.
=
Allegory
But, since the novel can be understood on more than one
level, you must be wondering what those levels are, right?
(Students looking at Mr. E right now)
On the surface:
R.P. McMurphy becomes a patient
and does his best to overcome & overthrow the tyrannical Nurse Ratched and the senseless and dehumanizing routines of the psych ward
Below the surface
: a commentary on
U.S.

Soc
iety.
Issues Discussed
Sanity
Sexuality
Nature
Freedom
Morality
Individuality
Characters to know in the beginning…
R.P. McMurphy
Nurse Ratched (aka “Big Nurse”)

Narrator: Chief Bromden
Badass
Ahhhh!!!!!
Literary Terms:
Subconscious--existing or operating below the conscious mind
Allegory
Pathetic Fallacy--when an inanimate object is given life through feelings, senses, etc.
Allusion--a passing reference to historical or fictional characters, places, events
Colloquialism--a commonly used word or phrase that may be inappropriate for a formal writing
Conditioned/Unconditioned Stimuli
Unconditioned/Conditioned Response
Operant Training--training based on rewards and punishments
The Title
Three geese in a flock.
One flew east, one flew west,
One flew over the cuckoo's nest.
O-U-T spells OUT,
Goose swoops down and plucks you out.
Take 3:
This makes my brain hurt.
He considered himself a prime figure in the antiestablishment movement
After writing two novels that weren't published, he decided to work the graveyard shift at Menlo Park Veteran's Hospital in New Jersey.
Now,
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

The novel is narrated by Chief Bromden, but our main character is R.P. McMurphy. On the surface, the novel follows McMurphy as he tries to change the ways of the restrictive hospital. However, the novel is an
allegory
...Ready?
Remember what we said before about Kesey's role for the
antiestablishment movement?
Chief Bromden is convinced throughout the book that all of the patients are victims of The Combine: an actual machine that is meant to churn out perfect humans, and spits out (or kills) the imperfect ones.
Point of View
Identity
Full transcript