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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

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Rebecca Poronto

on 20 June 2016

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Transcript of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
design by Dóri Sirály for Prezi
60's Counter-Culture: The Rise of the "Hippies"
A rebellion... but what against?
So, where is Kesey in all of this?
By Ken Kesey
Kesey born in 1935

Published first novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, in 1962
mental institution
McMurphy, "an energetic con man" seeks institutionalization to escape work farm. He challenges the dictatorial rule of Nurse Ratched in an effort to empower members of the ward.
Point of view:

Narrated by Chief Bromden, a patient who pretends to be deaf and dumb. He views everyone as part of the oppressive "combine" - one great machine.

Book demonstrates themes of conformity and challenging authority

"[Kesey's] book is a strong, warm story about the nature of human good and evil....[A] roar of protest against middlebrow society's Rules and the invisible Rulers who enforce them." Time Magazine

Ok, great. But what were these "rules" and why was this so important at the time?
End of World War II leads to surge in economic prosperity and higher standard of living

Traditional family values
Men as breadwinners
Women as homemakers
House in the suburbs
Cars and material possessions
Popularity of television = opportunity for advertising
Consumerism became a socially shared experience... everyone chasing the same goods to achieve the same dream!
Reinforced norms
Cold War, Second Red Scare, McCarthyism
Fear of Communism spreading
Conformity = Patriotic American
Rejection of norms = Subversive activity
American Dream
"Era of Conformity"

The 1950's
The Beats
The Beat Generation: Group of writers out of the 50's; Introduced by John Kerouac as anti-conformist youth movement.
Rebelled against societal norms; wrote against the mainstream
Rejected materialism
Eastern mysticism over Western religion
Alternate forms of sexuality
Experimentation with drugs
Creativity and spontaneity
Gave way to counter-culture of the 60's..
The issues:
Civil Rights
Social injustices (gay rights, Women's Movement, Student Movement)
Anti-War sentiments
Known for:
Free love
Drug use
Different Clothing
"I was too old to be a beatnik, too young to be a hippie." -Ken Kesey
About Cuckoo's Nest:
"It preceded the university turmoil, Vietnam, drugs, the counterculture. Yet it contained the prophetic essence of that whole period of revolutionary politics going psychedelic and... has entered the consciousness of many - perhaps most - Americans." Pauline Kae
1959- Kesey was volunteering for government acid tests and took midnight shift at mental hospital
Characters from novel are based off of patients there
Published in 1962, many themes from within the novel reflect social issues that would become part of the counter-culture
Traveled U.S. with "Band of Merry Pranksters" in bus called "Further"
Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test written about experiences on the road.
Themes emerging from this context:

Man Vs. Man
Man Vs. Society
Man Vs. Nature
Man Vs. Himself

Also, consider the social issues...
Civil Rights/Racism
Gay Rights
Women's movement
Social Norms and conformity
Anti-War Sentiments
Full transcript