The novel's portrayal of mental disability is found to be impressive in its avoidance of stereotypes through the representation of its characters as individuals, rather than merely characterizing symptoms of mental disorders.
Plot[ edit ] The book is narrated by "Chief" Bromden, a gigantic yet docile half-Native American patient at a psychiatric hospital, who presents himself as deaf and mute.
The head administrative nurse, Nurse Ratchedrules the ward with absolute authority and little medical oversight. She is assisted by her three day-shift orderlies and her assistant doctors.
McMurphy constantly antagonizes Nurse Ratched and upsets the routines of the ward, leading to endless power struggles between the inmate and the nurse. His reaction after claiming to be able to and subsequently failing to lift a heavy control panel in the defunct hydrotherapy room referred to as the "tub room" — "But at least I tried" — gives the men incentive to try to stand up for themselves, instead of allowing Nurse Ratched to take control of every aspect of their lives.
The Chief opens up to McMurphy, revealing late one night that he can speak and hear. One night, after bribing the night orderly, McMurphy smuggles two prostitute girlfriends with liquor onto the ward and breaks into the pharmacy for codeine cough syrup, and later unnamed psychiatric medications.
McMurphy persuades one of the women to seduce Billy Bibbit, a timid, boyish patient with a terrible stutter and little experience with women, so he can lose his virginity.
Billy asserts himself for the first time, answering Nurse Ratched without stuttering. Enraged at what she has done to Billy, McMurphy attacks Ratched, attempting to strangle her to death, tearing off her uniform and revealing her breasts to the patients and aides who are watching.
McMurphy is physically restrained and moved to the Disturbed ward. Nurse Ratched misses a week of work due to her injuries, during which time many of the patients either transfer to other wards or check out of the hospital forever. When she returns she cannot speak and is thus deprived of her most potent tool to keep the men in line.
With Bromden, Martini, and Scanlon the only patients who attended the boat trip left on the ward, McMurphy is brought back in. He has received a lobotomyand is now in a vegetative state, rendering him silent and motionless.
The Chief smothers McMurphy with a pillow during the night in an act of mercy before lifting the tub room control panel that McMurphy could not lift earlier, throwing it through a window and escaping the hospital. He advocated for drug use as a path to individual freedom,  an attitude that was reflected in the views of psychological researchers of the time.
This is because the subtlety of her actions prevents her prisoners from understanding they are being controlled at all. The Chief also sees the Combine in the damming of the wild Columbia River at Celilo Fallswhere his Native American ancestors hunted, and in the broader conformity of post-war American consumer society.
Similarly, Foucault argued that invisible forms of discipline oppressed individuals on a broad societal scale, encouraging them to censor aspects of themselves and their actions. The novel also criticizes the emasculation of men in society, particularly in the character of Billy Bibbit, the stuttering Acute patient who is domineered by both Nurse Ratched and his mother.
The title of the book is a line from a nursery rhyme: Main characters[ edit ] Randle McMurphy: A free-spirited, rebellious con man, sent to the hospital from a prison work farm. He is guilty of battery and gambling. He had also been charged with, but never convicted of - due to the girl in question not wishing to testify so as not to implicate herself and her willingness to participate - statutory rape.
McMurphy is transferred from a prison work farm to the hospital, thinking it will be an easy way to serve out his sentence in comfort.
In the end, McMurphy attacks Nurse Ratched, sacrificing his freedom and his health in exchange for freeing the previously shackled spirits of the cowed patients on the ward. After seeing his father, a Native American chieftain, humiliated at the hands of the U. Soon he is diagnosed with schizophrenia.
He believes society is controlled by a large, mechanized system which he calls "The Combine. The tyrannical head nurse of the mental institution, who exercises near-total control over those in her care, including her subordinates.
Eventually, after McMurphy nearly chokes her to death in a fit of rage, Nurse Ratched has him lobotomized. Three black men who work as aides in the ward. Williams is a dwarfhis growth stunted after witnessing his mother being raped by white men.
The Chief says Nurse Ratched hired them for their sadistic nature.Nightmares Ken Kesey’s Wars: “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest” at Ever since it was published 50 years ago critics have described Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest as the.
A summary of Themes in Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Learn exactly what happened in this chapter, scene, or section of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and what it means.
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Struggling with the themes of Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest? We've got the quick and easy lowdown on them here. one flew east, one flew west,One flew over the cuckoo’s nest.—Children’s folk rhymeThe epigraph refers to a children’s rhyme about birds. The verses are taken from a longer children’s Plot Analysis.
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This lesson introduces and analyzes important themes in Ken Kesey's novel, 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.' Over the Cuckoo's Nest Themes Related Study.