WordPress 020 – Book Experience 010 – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey (Spoilers)

Hi everyone, I hope you are all having a great summer.  I started classes already, which involves quite a bit of reading, but I’m definitely trying to make time to read for pleasure as well and still do this because… I love doing this.

This week, my Book Experience will be on One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey.  WARNING: There will be spoilers, more likely than not.


So, I don’t remember if I mentioned this somewhere before, but I picked this up to read because one of my coworkers was reading it, and he said he didn’t quite understand it.  So, I thought, “Well, why don’t I give it a try?”  I did have it in my collection, and it was one of those must-read books that I didn’t really know much about, so it was as good a time as any to get started on it.

For some reason, even though the back said that it was set in a mental hospital, and it was clearly about a mental hospital, and that was already in my mind, BUT I kept picturing a prison system because I was watching way too much OZ at the time, and the whole environment of both felt similar enough.  Very strict schedules/routines, what you were supposed to do; you were controlled by the authority and how things work in the system, and there is nothing you can do about it.

However, when McMurphy came in as a new “Admission” into the hospital, it was clear that he wasn’t part of and wasn’t going to be a part of the system.  Clearly a rebel, but I thought the way he rebelled was pretty priceless because he doesn’t go off and cause trouble and get in trouble (like pick fights and/or kill people like those people in OZ did in prison), but he does it more subtly just to mess with people’s heads, most especially Big Nurse (whose name is Ratched… which keeps reminding me of the word “wretched,” which isn’t too far off).  Just looked oh-so-innocent-like, but he’s clearly not.

Like how he made a ruckus about someone having stolen his clothing the night before, so he was standing there in just a towel, getting the Big Nurse and all her employees all flustered, and she demands that someone get him some clothes this instant!  And once they do, McMurphy just innocently drapes his towel over her shoulder and revealed that he had a pair of shorts under there all along.  So smug, and she was so mad, I’m sure.  I would be too, but on the other side, I thought it was brilliant, challenging authority in that way.

Of course, he starts to raise the bar again and again, trying to see just how far he can push authority before it snaps, and Big Nurse Ratched is trying to not snap under any circumstances because that would mean she’s the weaker one, that she can’t handle him, that he’s won, etc.  All that.  If she punishes him, then it is like a victory for him, regardless of anything else.  And slowly, McMurphy is winning everyone over, and Chief was a pretty interesting character as well.  A very quiet character who sort of wanted to blend in and not be bothered, but he’s clearly a big guy, from what I imagined him to be.  And it was McMurphy, who drew him out and eventually helped him get out.

The ending that sort of became the climax was definitely when Big Nurse Ratched was threatening the other patients (and I almost typed “inmates” there) to get them to submit and fold under her to show that she still has the power over them, but then McMurphy just tears through her clothes and revealed to everyone that no matter what, she was still “just” a woman, which probably made her “weaker” in their eyes just like that.  Like it was a realization to them… which is real sexist and everything but… that’s what I got out of it.

Also the ending killed me like the ending of George Orwell’s 1984 killed me.  Though not as much as 1984… more like the ending of season 1 of Game of Thrones (the TV series) with Khal Drogo.  In fact, it’s almost exactly like it— except I love Khal Drogo way way~~ more.  *tears*  Whyyy?

Alright, so that’s my Book Experience on One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  If you have your own Book Experience or thoughts on this, I’d love to hear about it!

Thanks for reading. Until next time, take care!


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