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Honors Reading (One flew over the cuckooʼs nest)

“One side of the room younger patients, known as Acutes because the doctors figure them still sick enough to be fixed...Across the room from the Acutes are the culls of the Combineʼs product, the Chronics. Not in the hospital, these, to get fixed, but just to keep them from walking around the streets giving the product a bad name. Chronics are in for good, the staff concedes. Chronics are divided into Walkers like me, can still get around if you keep them fed, and Wheelers and Vegetables. What the Chronics are—or most of us—are machines with flaws inside that canʼt be repaired, flaws born in, or flaws beat in over so many years of the guy running head-on into solid things that by the time the hospital found him he was bleeding rust in some vacant lot.” (Kesey, 13).

" Chief Bromdenʼs continues his relation of humans to machines. In this passage, he de-personifies the patients, especially the Chronics, and attempts to make them as insensate as possible. This is because he sees them as anthropomorphic machines promenading about. Perhaps he does not believe that the fellow patients have a soul, that they are incapable of maintaining one. This established nomenclature adds to the devaluation of the patients. They are assigned doleful names, predisposing them to be look on with eyes anticipating disappointment and reproach.

“McMurphy raises his voice; though he doesnʼt look at the other Acutes listening behind him, itʼs them heʼs talking to. “The flock gets sight of a spot of blood on some chicken and they all go to peckinʼ at it, see, till they rip the chicken to shreds, blood and bones and feathers. But usually a couple of the flock gets spotted in the fracas, then itʼs their turn. And a few more gets spots and gets pecked to death, and more and more. Oh, a peckinʼ party can wipe out the whole flock in a matter of a few hours, buddy, I seen it. A mighty awesome sight. The only way to prevent it—with chickens—is to clip blinders on them. Soʼs they canʼt see.”

Harding laces his long fingers around a knee and draws the knee toward him, leaning back in the chair. “A pecking party. That certainly is a pleasant analogy, my friend.” “And thatʼs just exactly what that meeting I just set through reminded me of, buddy, if you want to know the dirty truth. It reminded me of a flock of dirty chickens.”” (Kesey, 35)

" Now introduced to the subversive ʻMcMurphy,ʼ the patients are interested in his acumen. This is the first attempt at unveiling the truth of the institution. His first attempt at lifting the patients out of their contrived stupor. He uses this analogy to communicate his analysis of the purpose of the daily meetings the head nurse conducts. As some of the patients are feeble minded, he finds this analogy necessary. His objective: to elucidate the patients of the malicious intent of the head nurse and to reveal her for the manipulative demagogue that she is. He claims that the meetings serve as a way for the patients to depreciate each other which in turn creates the head nurse as omnipotent.

" “ Tell me, Mr. McMurphy, how does one go about showing a woman whoʼs boss, I mean other than laughing at her? How does he show her whoʼs king of the mountain? A man like you should be able to tell us that. You donʼt slap her around, do you? No, then she calls the law. You donʼt lose your temper and shout at her; sheʼll win by trying to placate her big olʼ angry boy: ʻIs us wittle man getting fussy? Ahhhhh?ʼ Have you ever tried to keep up a noble and angry front in the face of such consolation? So you see, my friend, it is somewhat as you stated: man has but one truly effective weapon against the juggernaut of modern matriarchy, but it certainly is not laughter. One weapon, and with every passing year in this hip, motivationally researched society, more and more people are discovering how to render that weapon useless and conquer those who have hitherto been the conquerors—” (Kesey, 42)

" As the novel progresses, an ulterior theme becomes less and less obfuscated. It becomes evident, relatively early in the novel, that the primary struggle is that of power between the already established Miss Ratched and the novel McMurphy. Harding transforms this struggle of influence to a struggle between the sexes. This passage also highlights some of Hardingʼs misogynistic notions (this is salacity is part of his condition). Harding takes a cursory understanding of the situation and embellishes with pretension, which makes him appear sophomoric. This kind of Freudian interpretation is reproachably simple and superficial, as well as myopic.

" “Because he knows you have to laugh at the things that hurt you just to keep yourself in balance, just to keep the world from running you plumb crazy...but he wonʼt let the pain blot out the humor no moreʼn heʼll let the humor blot out the pain...I watched, part of them, laughing with them—and somehow not with them. I was off the boat, blown up off the water and skating the wind with those black birds, high above myself, and I could look down and see myself and the rest of the guys, see the boat rocking there in the middle of those diving birds, see McMurphy surrounded by his dozen people, and watch them, us, swinging a laughter that rang out on the water in ever-widening circles, farther and farther, until it crashed up on beaches all over the coast, on beaches all over all coasts, in wave after wave after wave.” (Kesey, 139-140)

" In this passage, Bromden is quite close to achieving self-actualization. (It seems throughout the book that he has a resolute external locus of control as he describes many people as vacuous machines with a simple input and output scheme.) He may be considered to have an epiphany. He realizes that humans are fundamentally the same in that they are constantly exposed to stressors. The difference between those classified as insane and those sane is that they deal with the stress in different ways. Before McMurphy, it had been noted that their environment was devoid of any laughter. Bromden sees, after meeting McMurphy, that laughter is a way to relieve stress. This passage seems to show Bromden in a transcendental state as his perspective moves out of his body. He highlights their isolation and freedom, two things that they are newly exposed to.


" I enjoyed this book. Its narrative explanation of group dynamics and sedition as well as analysis was quite intriguing. As the book was written from an abating, delusional, paranoid perspective, it was interesting to track this improvement. I would recommend this book to anyone thatʼs interested in light psychological concepts as well as clinical psychology and criminal proclivity.