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The Birds of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

An exploration of birds on Kesey's novel.
by

Weimen Li

on 15 October 2012

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Transcript of The Birds of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Birds One flew East
One flew West
One flew over
The Cuckoo's Nest The patients in the hospital are described as birds in a cage... Relationships are represented in terms of birds. Birds Represent Freedom R.P. McMurphy is a goose. Tingle, tingle, tremble toes
She's a good fisherman
Catches hens
Puts 'em in pens
Wire blier, limber lock
Three geese inna 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 Chief Bromden is a bird. Kesey's use of birds shows the theme that institutions abuse their power. Weimen Li, Nilza Escobar, and Samual Bacon er... Peoples One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey Page 3 "I'm cagey enough to fool them that much." - Chief Bromden In the beginning, Bromden believes he is being crafty, or "cagey", by pretending to be deaf and dumb. Yet in the context of the novel, he is only keeping himself imprisoned within the hospital. Page 23 "He (McMurphy) shakes the hands of (Chronics), shakes hands that he has to pick up... like picking up dead birds." The Chronics are dead birds. In being dead birds, the chronics have lost the ability to ever be free. The patients are living birds "You birds seem to think you got quite the champ in there, don't you?" - R.P. McMurphy In calling the patients birds, McMurphy recognizes that they still have the potential to be free of their cages and cured. Page 73 The nurse is a bird of prey to the patients. "And that's what that old buzzard is doing... going for your vitals." - R.P. McMurphy In being a buzzard, Nurse Ratched is present to destroy, not help, the patients. The patients attack each other like chickens. Page 57 "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... Oh, a pecking party can wipe out the whole flock." -R.P. McMurphu The nurse manipulates patients against themselves. Electroshock therapy kills freedom. "And out the windows, the sparrows drop, smoking off the wire." - Chief Bromden Page 283 As McMurphy recieves electroshock therapy, birds drop, representing the loss of the potential to be free that the therapy induces. "It looked... like the leaves were hitting the fence and turning into birds and flying away." Page 234 As the patients depart for the fishing trip, they become birds, flying away freely. As leaves, the patients have been trapped within the hospital for a very long time. "He's holding out pretty good, but the dog keeps sniffing and circling... Then the bird breaks... jumps out of the cedar into the birdshot." - Chief Bromden Page 7 As a bird, Bromden only wants to hide. Yet a symbolic canine, be it a black boy (Dog) or McMurphy (Wolf), tends to rustle Bromden out of hiding. Page 21 "I been a bull goose catskinner... a bull goose gambler... even a bull goose pea weeder." - R.P. McMurphy In allusion to the "Bull Moose Party", McMurphy is the Bull Goose Loony, the leader among the patients. Page 285 "Tingling, trembling toes" refer to electroshock therapy. The nurse Captures patients And imprisons them in her ward. Controlling them, as if with wires. "Locking" their limberness, their ability to be free. While other leaders dare not face the nurse McMurphy stands up to Ratched.. In order to free the patients! Page 60
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