One flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest pdf by Ken Kesey is a novel written by Ken Kesey and published in 1962. Set in an Oregon psychiatric hospital, the narrative serves as a study of institutional processes and the human mind; including a critique of psychiatry, and a tribute to individualistic principles. It was adapted into the Broadway (and later off-Broadway) play: “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” by Dale Wasserman in 1963. Bo Goldman adapted the novel into a 1975 film (of the same name) directed by Miloš Forman, which won 5 Academy Awards. It is considered by many to be one of the greatest novels ever written. In this article, you will be able to download one flew over the cuckoo’s nest by Ken Kesey as well as do the following:
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One flew over the cuckoo’s nest Summary by Ken Kesey
Boisterous, ribald, and ultimately shattering, Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest has left an indelible mark on the literature of our time. Turning conventional notions of sanity and insanity on their heads, the novel tells the unforgettable story of a mental ward and its inhabitants, especially tyrannical Big Nurse Ratched and Randle Patrick McMurphy, the brawling, fun-loving new inmate who resolves to oppose her. We see the story through the eyes of Chief Bromden, the seemingly mute half-Indian patient who witnesses and understands McMurphy’s heroic attempt to do battle with the powers that keep them all imprisoned. Hailed upon its publication as “a glittering parable of good and evil” (The New York Times Book Review) and “a roar of protest against middlebrow society’s Rules and the invisible Rulers who enforce them” (Time), Kesey’s powerful book went on to sell millions of copies and remains as bracing and insightful today as when it was first released.
About the author of Summary – Ken Kesey
Ken Kesey (1935-2002) was born in Colorado and grew up in Oregon. As a young man he exhibited the charisma and imagination that would later make him an icon and one of the founders of the American counterculture. He received a scholarship to attend Stanford University, where he enrolled in the creative writing program. His first book, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, was followed by Sometimes a Great Notion. His bus trip from California to New York City with his friends, who called themselves the Merry Pranksters, became the subject of Tom Wolfe’s book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.
Information about the book Summary (Amazon)
- Publisher : Viking; 50th Anniversary ed. edition (January 19, 2012)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 067002323X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0670023233
- Lexile measure : 1040L
- Item Weight : 1.1 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.2 x 1.02 x 9.2 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #58,950 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #467 in Classic American Literature
- #2,117 in Classic Literature & Fiction
- #2,377 in Psychological Thrillers (Books)
- Customer Reviews: 4.7 out of 5 stars 6,857 ratings
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They’re out there. Black boys in white suits up before me to commit sex acts in the hall and get it mopped up before I can catch them. They’re mopping when I come out the dorm, all three of them sulky and hating everything, the time of day, the place they’re at here, the people they got to work around. When they hate like this, better if they don’t see me. I creep along the wall quiet as dust in my canvas shoes, but they got special sensitive equipment detects my fear and they all look up, all three at once, eyes glittering out of the black faces like the hard glitter of radio tubes out of the back of an old radio. Here’s the Chief. The soo-pah Chief, fellas. Ol Chief Broom. Here you go, Chief Broom. Stick a mop in my hand and motion to the spot they aim for me to clean today, and I go. One swats the backs of my legs with a broom handle to hurry me past. Haw, you look at im shag it? Big enough to eat apples off my head an he mine me like a baby. They laugh and then I hear them mumbling behind me, heads close together. Hum of black machinery, humming hate and death and other hospital secrets. They dont bother not talking out loud about their hate secrets when Im nearby because they think Im deaf and dumb. Everybody thinks so. Im cagey enough to fool them that much. If my being half Indian ever helped me in any way in this dirty life, it helped me being cagey, helped me all these years.
I’m mopping near the ward door when a key hits it from the other side and I know its the Big Nurse by the way the lockworks cleave to the key, soft and swift and familiar she been around locks so long. She slides through the door with a gust of cold and locks the door behind her and I see her fingers trail across the polished steel tip of each finger the same color as her lips. Funny orange. Like the tip of a soldering iron. Color so hot or so cold if she touches you with it you can’t tell which. She’s carrying her woven wicker bag like the ones the Umpqua tribe sells out along the hot August highway, a bag shape of a tool box with a hemp handle. Shes had it all the years I been here. Its a loose weave and I can see inside it; theres no compact or lipstick or woman stuff, shes got that bag full of thousand parts she aims to use in her duties today wheels and gears, cogs polished to a hard glitter, tiny pills that gleam like porcelain, needles, forceps, watchmakers pliers, rolls of copper wire She dips a nod at me as she goes past. I let the mop push me back to the wall and smile and try to foul her equipment up as much as possible by not letting her see my eyes they can’t tell so much about you. if you got your eyes closed. In my dark I hear her rubber heels hit the tile and the stuff in her wicker bag clash with the jar of her walking as she passes me in the hall. She walks stiff. When I open my eyes shes down the hall about to turn into the glass Nurses Station where shell spend the day sitting at her desk and looking out her window and making notes on what goes on out in front of her in the day room during the next eight hours. Her face looks pleased and peaceful with the thought.
Then she sights those black boys. They’re still down there together, mumbling to one another. They didn’t hear her come on the ward. They sense shes glaring down at them now, but its too late. They should of knew bettern to group up and mumble together when she was due on the ward. Their faces bob apart, confused. She goes into a crouch and advances on where theyre trapped in a huddle at the end of the corridor. She knows what they been saying, and I can see shes furious clean out of control. Shes going to tear the black bastards limb from limb, shes so furious. Shes swelling up, swells till her backs splitting out the white uniform and shes let her arms section out long enough to wrap around the three of them five, six times. She looks around her with a swivel of her huge head. Nobody up to see, just old Broom Bromden the half-breed Indian back there hiding behind his mop and cant talk to call for help. So she really lets herself go and her painted smile twists, stretches to an open snarl, and she blows up bigger and bigger, big as a tractor, so big I can smell the machinery inside the way you smell a motor pulling too big a load. I hold my breath and figure, My God this time theyre gonna do it! This time they let the hate build up too high and overloaded and theyre gonna tear one another to pieces before they realize what they’re doing! But just as she starts crooking those sectioned arms around the black boys and they go to ripping at her underside with the mop handles, all the patients start coming out of the dorms to check on whats the hullabaloo, and she has to change back before shes caught in the shape of her hideous real self. By the time the patients get their eyes rubbed to where they can halfway see what the rackets about, all they see is the head nurse, smiling and calm and cold as usual, telling the black boys theyd best not stand in a group gossiping when it is Monday morning and there is such a lot to get done on the first morning of the week.
mean old Monday morning, you know, boys Yeah, Miz Ratched and we have quite a number of appointments this morning, so perhaps, if your standing here in a group talking isn’t too urgent Yeah, Miz Ratched She stops and nods at some of the patients come to stand around and stare out of eyes all red and puffy with sleep. She nods once to each. Precise, automatic gesture. Her face is smooth, calculated, and precision-made, like an expensive baby doll, skin like flesh-colored enamel, blend of white and cream and baby-blue eyes, small nose, pink little nostrils everything working together except the color on her lips and fingernails, and the size of her bosom. A mistake was made somehow in manufacturing, putting those big, womanly breasts on what would of otherwise been a perfect work, and you can see how bitter she is about it. The men are still standing and waiting to see what she was onto the black boys about, so she remembers seeing me and says, And since it is Monday, boys, why dont we get a good head start on the week by shaving poor Mr. Bromden first this morning, before the after-breakfast rush on the shaving room, and see if we cant avoid some of the ah disturbance he tends to cause, dont you think? Before anybody can turn to look for me I duck back in the mop closet, jerk the door shut dark after me, hold my breath. Shaving before you get breakfast is the worst time. When you got something under your belt you’re stronger and more wide awake, and the bastards who work for the Combine aren’t so apt to slip one of their machines in on you in place of an electric shaver. But when you shave before breakfast like she has me do some mornings six-thirty in the morning in a room all white walls and white basins, and long-tube-lights in the ceiling making sure there aren’t any shadows, and faces all round you trapped screaming behind the mirrors then what chance you got against one of their machines?
I hide in the mop closet and listen, my heart beating in the dark, and I try to keep from getting scared, try to get my thoughts off someplace else try to think back and remember things about the village and the big Columbia River, think about ah one time Papa and me were hunting birds in a stand of cedar trees near The Dalles. But like always when I try to place my thoughts in the past and hide there, the fear close at hand seeps in through the memory. I can feel that least black boy out there coming up the hall, smelling out for my fear. He opens out his nostrils like black funnels, his outsized head bobbing this way and that as he sniffs, and he sucks in fear from all over the ward. Hes smelling me now, I can hear him snort. He don’t know where Im hid, but hes smelling and hes hunting around. I try to keep still. (Papa tells me to keep still, tells me that the dog senses a bird somewheres right close. We borrowed a pointer dog from a man in The Dalles. All the village dogs are no-count mongrels, Papa says, fish-gut eaters and no class a-tall; this here dog, he got insteek! I dont say anything, but I already see the bird up in a scrub cedar, hunched in a gray knot of feathers. Dog running in circles underneath, too much smell around for him to point for sure. The bird safe as long as he keeps still. Hes holding out pretty good, but the dog keeps sniffing and circling, louder and closer. Then the bird breaks, feathers springing, jumps out of the cedar into the birdshot from Papas gun.) The least black boy and one of the bigger ones catch me before I get ten steps out of the mop closet, and drag me back to the shaving room. I dont fight or make any noise. If you yell its just tougher on you. I hold back the yelling. I hold back till they get to my temples. Im not sure its one of those substitute machines and not a shaver till it gets to my temples; then I can’t hold back. I’ts not a will-power thing anymore when they get to my temples. Its a button, pushed, says Air Raid Air Raid, turns me on so loud it’s like no sound, everybody yelling at me, hands over their ears from behind a glass wall, faces working around in talk circles but no sound from the mouths. My sound soaks up all other sound.
They start the fog machine again and it’s snowing down cold and white all over me like skim milk, so thick I might even be able to hide in it if they didn’t have a hold on me. I can’t see six inches in front of me through the fog and the only thing I can hear over the wail Im making is the Big Nurse whoop and charge up the hall while she crashes patients outta her way with that wicker bag. I hear her coming but I still can’t hush my hollering. I holler till she gets there. They hold me down while she jams wicker bag and all into my mouth and shoves it down with a mop handle. (A bluetick hound bays out there in the fog, running scared and lost because he can’t see. No tracks on the ground but the ones hes making, and he sniffs in every direction with his cold red-rubber nose and picks up no scent but his own fear, fear burning down into him like steam.) It’s gonna burn me just that way, finally telling about all this, about the hospital, and her, and the guys and about McMurphy. 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.
One flew over the cuckoo’s nest Themes by Ken Kesey
Institutional Control vs. Human Dignity
Nurse Ratched is notorious for her desire to exercise complete control over the men who are under her jurisdiction on the psych ward, both as patients and as employees. In doing so, Nurse Ratched becomes a metaphor for the entire mental institution, the government, society at large—or to put it simply: any and every powerful institution that exists to regulate, control, and categorize groups of people. In order to determine the difference between sanity and insanity, for instance, some agent of power (society, the psych ward, Nurse Ratched) must first define the boundaries of what each word means. After this definition is decided upon, it can be used to control and categorize people to make them easier to control. The institutions of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest claim that they categorize the patients as insane in order to “treat” and “rehabilitate” them. But it quickly becomes clear in the novel that this rehabilitation is more punitive and controlling than it is helpful for any mental ailment: the shock treatment table, the red pills that cause memory loss, the daily meetings that pit men against each other, and the list on Nurse Ratched’s desk to record and reward the men for betraying each other’s secrets are all ways to force people to obey, not to make them well.
The categorization of the men as Acutes and Chronics shows the inherent loss of human dignity that results from relying on such categories. As the novel opens, the men in the ward do not have names: they have broad labels: Acute or Chronic. That is the only marker of meaning regarding them: not who they are, not what they care about. Just Acute or Chronic. Further, the ward allows for little freedom of expression—though it is feigned with “democratic” group meetings. There is no recreation outdoors. There is little exposure to the outside world. All activities and therapy sessions are scheduled with precision, and to deviate from that schedule is to be a nuisance to Nurse Ratched. This is exactly as Nurse Ratched prefers it to be, because she can strip the humanity of her patients in order to be in complete control and run her ward like a well-oiled machine.
It is when Randle McMurphy becomes a patient—and begins to treat other patients with dignity—that the cold categorization of the institution begins to be subverted: the fog lifts for Chief Bromden, the men joke and play, they go on outings. The climactic party scene illustrates how the men (sane or insane) still possess the same desires as a nominally “sane” person: to have fun, to be free, to be respected. McMurphy’s introduction of human dignity to the patients transforms the ward—the men realize that they have sacrificed not just their rights but their very beings by electing to be committed to the institution, but as they rediscover their own human dignity with the aid of McMurphy they attempt to wrest back that control.
Emasculation and Sexuality
In One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Kesey draws a clear connection between the men’s sexuality and their freedom—their very ability to be “men.” Nurse Ratched uses emasculating tactics throughout the novel in order to strip the men on the ward of their freedom. She sometimes employs physical force (such as shock treatment), drugs (personality altering pills), but also uses simple intimidation and other tactics to ensure that the men are always under a strict, unchanging schedule and that they are acting in a submissive, despondent way that makes them easier to control. When McMurphy arrives at the ward, he immediately identifies emasculation is the core of Nurse Ratched’s strategy of control, and notes after the first group session that she is a “ball-breaker.” Nurse Ratched and McMurphy, then, operate in direct opposition of one another throughout the novel: Ratched the emasculating force, McMurphy the hyper-masculine force, bragging about his many sexual conquests and challenging the other men to show some balls.
While Kesey draws a strong correlative between emasculation and lack of freedom on the ward; emasculation is also intertwined with social pressures—most of the men arrive at the ward already emasculated, and this is in fact the root cause for why many elect to be committed in the first place. Dan Harding feels emasculated because of his homosexuality and his wife’s reaction to his sexual proclivities. Billy Bibbit feels emasculated because of his mother’s hold on him and the fact that he had never been with a woman until he has sex with Candy, the prostitute. This act, though, once discovered by Nurse Ratched, forces him to suicide because he cannot bear to think of his mother’s reaction. After Bibbit’s suicide, McMurphy rips Nurse Ratched’s uniform, revealing her breasts and womanly figure for the first time to the patients. In the logic of the novel, McMurphy’s attack destroys the institutionalized mask that Ratched uses to make herself non-human and non-feminine and reasserts masculine dominance. It shows the men that Ratched is not some impersonal avenging force, she’s a woman, and that the men, by extension, are men, who traditionally are the powerful ones. And that they can reassert that power if they wish.
Sanity v. Insanity
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest explores the idea of what it means to be sane or insane, and, perhaps most importantly, who gets to define what qualifies as sane versus insane. One of the novel’s most salient insinuations is that the psych ward, Nurse Ratched, and all the other tools of “sanity” in the book are, in fact, insane. This question becomes central with the arrival of Randle McMurphy to the ward, a likeable, crass gambler who may have faked psychosis to get relocated to the ward from a work camp. Regardless of Nurse Ratched’s personal suspicions that McMurphy is not, in fact, insane, Ratched must treat him as insane because only then can she exercise control over him. In other words, a ward that is meant to help cure those who are insane is instead treating as insane a man who its chief nurse believes to be sane—a fact which is, arguably, itself insane behavior.
Ken Kesey’s portrayal of the characters within the psych ward further asks the reader to question the line between what is sane and insane. The characters in the ward are undeniably damaged or hurting, but are they insane or do they just not fit perfectly well in a rigid society? The narrator of the novel, Chief Bromden, has successfully pretended to be deaf and mute for years in the ward, though his recalling of events as a narrator are largely lucid and appear sane despite the hallucinatory fog—which seems to be something that the ward and the world has done to him, rather than some problematic aspect of his psyche—that plagues him for a large portion of the book. Dale Harding is an eloquent, well-educated man, but because of his homosexuality he is so uncomfortable in society that he voluntarily puts himself in a mental institution. Through these and other characters in the psych ward, Kesey makes a deliberate point of challenging the reader to ask themselves where the boundaries of sanity are, and who exactly determines them, and what is a world that allows the strong to label the weak or misfit as crazy just to shut them away.
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You can buy one flew over the cuckoo’s nest which is Ken Kesey’s bracing, inslightful novel about the meaning of madness and the value of self-reliance, and the inspiration for the new Netflix original series Ratched from the following sites online
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Editorial reviews and praise for the book
“A work of genuine literary merit . . . What Mr. Kesey has done in his unusual novel is to transform the plight of a ward of inmates in a mental hospital into a glittering parable of good and evil.” –The New York Times Book Review
“[A] brilliant first novel . . . a strong, warm story about the nature of human good and evil . Keysey has made his book a roar of protest against middlebrow society’s Rules and the invisible Rulers who enforce them.” -Time
“The final triumph of these men at the cost of a terrifying sacrifice should send chills down any reader’s back. . . . This novel’s scenes have the liveliness of a motion picture.” –The Washington Post
“An outstanding book . . . [Kesey’s] characters are original and real. . . . This is a tirade against the increasing controls over man and his mind, yet the author never gets on a soap box. Nor does he forget that there is a thin line between tragedy and comedy.” –Houston Chronicle
Customer reviews on Amazon for One flew over the cuckoo’s nest by Ken Kesy
5.0 out of 5 stars Plumb Crazy
Reviewed in the United States on June 26, 2016
Ken Kesey’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” was one of the most powerful books I have ever read. Although the story takes place mainly in a mental hospital, its ramifications can be felt in all of the broader society. The struggles depicted in the various characters, both internally and inter-personally, will give the reader pause and perhaps change your perception on life.
The story at its core encompasses the struggle between the individual (portrayed by Randall McMurphy) and the establishment (Portrayed by nurse Ratched.) It is told through the eyes of the schizophrenic half-Indian known as Chief Bromden. Bromden has pretended to be deaf and dumb for so long that everyone takes this fact for granted. It also allows him to overhear comments from the staff that others would not. The Chief is an interesting choice as narrator, and at times it seemed like he was rambling on about nothing. Unreliable narrators can be a touchy thing, but Kesey is able to navigate his way through the Chief’s mind, and in time we find his ramblings have a purpose. He views the establishment as a machine, which he refers to as “the combine.” He speaks of fog machines, wires in the walls, and robotic people, and views them as part of the combine. Even the name of the nurse, Ratched, sounds almost like “ratchet,” which is a common tool. The Chief sees the struggle between the Big Nurse, as he calls Ratched, and McMurphy, and even though he has a sense right away that McMurphy is different, Bromden doesn’t hold out much hope. After all, the combine is a massive machine and the Chief knows what it did to him. Bromden tells McMurphy he “used to be big,” but not any more. The Chief’s mother, a white woman from town, along with the government, broke down both he and his father and became bigger than both of them put together.
The antagonist is Ratched, an ex-army nurse who rules the ward with an iron fist. She preys on the weaknesses of the patients and attacks them in those areas. She is all about control and power, and over her long career has devised many ways of projecting this with a cold, machine-like efficiency. Ratched has hand picked her staff based on their cruelty and submissiveness. The Chief calls her “The Big Nurse,” which reminds me of Orwell’s Big Brother, and mentions early on that “The Big Nurse tends to get real put out if something keeps her outfit from running like a smooth, accurate, precision-made machine” (pg 24). Indeed the Chief sees her as a machine, part of the combine who’s purpose is to make others small. Ratched represents the oppressive nature and de-humanization present in modern society. And then there is Randle McMurphy. Sent to the ward from a work farm (because it’s “easier” time), McMurphy comes in loud and confident. His singing and laughter are something new for the patients so used to suppressing their emotions. And he is definitely not the kind of patient the mechanical and repressive Nurse Ratched wants. It only takes McMurphy one group session to see Ratched’s method of exposing the patient’s weakest areas and pecking them into submission. Harding, the subject of the group meetings earlier frenzy, explains that it was all therapeutic. McMurphy, however, gives Harding his perception: “what she is is a ball-cutter. I’ve seen a thousand of ’em…people who try to make you weak so they can get you to…live like they want you to. And the best way to do this…is to weaken you by gettin’ you where it hurts the worst” (pg 56). So McMurphy, ever the gambling man, makes a bet with his fellow patients that he would be able to make Ratched lose her composure, and he accomplished this by using her own tactics against her. As he pulls Bromden and the others out of the “fog” and makes them big again, McMurphy unwittingly becomes the savior of his fellow patients. It did not go un-noticed that the electroshock table was cross-shaped with the patient restrained by the wrists and feet and a “crown” placed over his head. When McMurphy rips Nurse Ratched’s tightly starched uniform and exposes her breasts, he is symbolically exposing her hypocrisy and breaking the power she had once wielded over the patients. Chief Bromden’s final act of mercy cemented Nurse Ratched’s fall as well as giving McMurphy the dignity that he had earned. Perhaps the largest piece of advice I pulled from this novel is to never let anyone or anything take your individuality. Society in general would like to have everyone fit into the same mold because then the people are easier to predict and control. However, we all need a McMurphy in our lives to show us that we can still be individuals and fit into society. And when The Combine tries to weaken you and make you conform, just throw your head back and laugh like McMurphy, “because he knows you have laugh at the things that hurt you just to keep yourself in balance, just to keep the world from running you plumb crazy” (pg 233).
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful novel that had a major impact on the closing of asylums.
Reviewed in the United States on January 25, 2019
The novel was a fun description of a man with anti-social personality disorder characteristics that should not have been in an asylum…except the ending was not fun. Many of the other major characters should not have been in a mental hospital and could have been helped in a less restrictive environment. This novel is frequently cited in the psychological literature as being a major factor in the demise of the grand asylums. Since the closing of the asylums it is estimated that one out of three homeless people are suffering from schizophrenia. The American Psychiatric Association estimates that one in five prisoners in our expensive non therapeutic prisons suffer from serious mental illness. We need to return to the asylums (a safe place) for the severe and persistently mentally ill. Based on my experiences working at one of the older asylums, as a clinical psychologist, I wrote an award winning novel, TWO DAYS AT THE ASYLUM. The novel is an Archie Bunker version of mental health care and is not politically correct. Somehow the novel ends with the message that our society must reopen the asylums (a therapeutic safe place) for these people who cannot organize their thoughts to get their own campaign for help. I hope what ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST did for the closing of the asylums, TWO DAYS AT THE ASYLUM will aid in the reopening of the asylums.
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for any serious reader!
Reviewed in the United States on April 9, 2017
If you are intrigued by stories about the human condition, then you’ll do no better than One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. This is an incredible story of how indomitable and influential the human spirit can be, even in the face of a manipulative and controlling system that cares little for anyone or anything beyond winning. An absolute must read!
5.0 out of 5 stars So much more than I had expected…
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 4, 2020
I have always loved the movie of this book but have only just got around to reading it. In some ways the screen version has more emotional punch, particularly at the end, driven in part by Nicholson’s mesmerising performance. The book, however, is far more textured and layered – I was not expecting the richness of the Chief’s narrative: the echoes of a lost way of life and the powerful extended metaphor of a new way of life like some enormous machine or ‘combine’ controlling people. It has a romantic edge – a warning of the turning away from the land, a warning against institutional control. A beautiful book, elegiac in tone, one I will return to in the future to fully appreciate the scope of its vision.
R T Twinem
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that still retains the magic
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 10, 2017
Can it really be 50 years since the publication of this book, I remember my first reading in the mid 70’s and it has been a great pleasure, and a walk down memory lane, to once again make the acquaintance of the residents of an Oregon Psychiatric Hospital and in particular one Randle P McMurphy. Most people will remember the 1976 movie and the electric performance of Jack Nicholson as the audacious and colourful “Mack”, in a movie that won many awards. The book has lost none of its magic even now reading the it so many years later, and the emotions that it can produce are still very real. McMurphy is moved to the mental institution from a prison farm where he was serving a sentence for the rape of a 15 year old girl. Although he is not mentally ill, he is hoping to avoid hard labour and serve the rest of his sentence in a relaxed environment. The life of the rest of the inmates is now turned on its head as McMurphy proceeds to wreck havoc in an attempt to control and alter the mundane existence of lethargic and inactive inmates….”We are lunatics from the hospital up the highway, psychoceramics, the cracked pots of mankind.”….The only obstacle standing between Mack and his dreams is the formidable figure of the steely strict Nurse Ratched…..”Her face is still calm, as though she had a cast made and painted to just the look she wants. Confident, patient, and unruffled.”…
The story is told in the first person through the eyes of one long term resident Chief Bromden a tall native American believed to be deaf and mute. Through a series of minor misdemeanours and coercion McMurphy is hoping to breakdown the stranglehold of power that Nurse Rached holds over the inmates, who are dulled and kept under control by the constant and daily consumption of medication. It would therefore appear that the prime function of the institution is to manage, by this use of drugs, the minds and temperaments of the residents, rather than try to rehabilitate them and reintroducing them back into society where they might once again make a useful contribution. If the use of drugs and stimulants fails to pacify the disturbed mind the institution is willing to apply electroshock therapy and in the most severe cases a lobotomy is performed. This is a book fully entrenched in the methods and institutions of its time. It is also a story of power and authority, those who wheel it and those who would attempt to question it by any means possible. It is a wonderful and colourful narration, strong and memorable characters, essentially funny yet ultimately sad. To me Randle P McMurphy is more than a comic figure, he chooses to question the reality and sense of his surroundings and by doing so set himself on the road to confrontation with the soulless Nurse Ratched and ultimately there can only be one winner, and an ending that is both shocking and captivating. Highly Recommended.
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