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One Flew Over the

Cuckoo’s Nest - Essay

Michael Elmer
• Intro

o Start with a quote.

 Find one from Scholarly article


 Pg. 19:
“[We] …are machines with flaws inside that can’t 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.”

o Explain, basically, machine imagery

• Thesis about imagery

o Contribution to narrative

o Insight provided

o Reinforces Chief’s insanity

• Examples

o Wires to Wireless

 Pg.32:
“Years of training, and all three black boys tune in closer
and closer with the Big Nurse’s frequency. One by one they are
able to disconnect the direct wires and operate on beams. She
never gives orders out loud or leaves written instructions that
might be found by a visiting wife or schoolteacher. Doesn’t need
to any more. They are in contact on a high-voltage wave length
of hate, and the black boys are out there performing her bidding
before she even thinks it.”
 Describes how employees become accustomed to Nurse’s

 Eventually know what Nurse would do without having to

consult her

o “Microchip Pill”

 Pg. 35 – 36:
“For a tick of time, before it all turned to white dust, I saw
it was a miniature electronic element like the ones I helped the
Radar Corps work with in the Army, microscopic wires and grids
and transistors, this one designed to dissolve on contact with

 Reinforces Chief’s insanity to refute semi-logical

possibility of some of his hypotheses

o Chapter Section that illustrates ward as machine

 Pg.30 – 41:
“…she wields a sure power that extends in all directions
on hair-like wires too small for anybody’s eye but mine… after
the nurse gets her staff, efficiency locks the ward like a
watchman’s clock. Everything the guys think and say and do is
all worked out months in advance… This is… typed and fed into
the machine I hear humming behind the steel door in the
Nurses’ Station. A number of Order Daily [OD] cards are
returned… each day the properly dated [OD] card is inserted
in… a steel door and the walls hum up…”

“…powerful magnets on the floor maneuver the personnel

through the ward like arcade puppets…”

“…hearts all beating at the rate the OD cards have

ordered. Sound of matched cylinders.”

“Eight o’ clock the walls whirr and hum into full swing.”

“Nine-fifty the residents leave and the machinery hums

up smooth again. …the scene before her takes on that blue-steel
clarity again…”

“[The technicians go trotting off] like… mechanical

puppets in one of those Punch and Judy acts…”
“Ten-forty, -forty-five, -fifty, patients shuttle in and out to
appointments…The machinery sounds about you reach a steady
cruising speed.”

“The Ward is a Factory for the Combine.”

 Humming in Walls

 Schedule and patients described like workings of


o The Dream

 Pg. 78-82:
“Twists a knob, and the whole floor goes slipping down
away from him standing in the door, lowering into the building
like a platform on a grain elevator!”
 Submerging of ward symbolizes hell

 Employees, therefore, represent demons

 Nurse Ratched (not shown) must be Satan

o Level of Mechanical Imagery as Story Progresses

 Amount significantly decreases

 Possibility of psychological improvement because of

McMurphy’s presence and actions having an effect on the

• Significance

o Explained for each incident

o Immediately follows event description

• Thesis Restatement

o See: “Thesis” above

• Conclusion

o The mechanical imagery exhibited in the novel

contributes tremendously to the meaning and plot of
the book

• Reinforce points by including quotes from other scholarly works about book

• Remember correct in-text citation and bibliography citation: only the author’s
name and the page number in-text, everything in Bibliography.