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One flew over the cuckoos nest

- by Ken Kesey
I would like for you to take a moment and imagine your life differently. Imagine you
werent where you are. Imagine you would miss elementary things, such as the right to speak up,
or the right to say whatever bothers you. Imagine you werent free. How would that make you
feel? Quite bad, isnt it? Thats how Mr. Bromden and all the other patients at an insane asylum
feel everyday of their days, in Ken Keseys One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest.
Each and every single patient living there has a different story. Mr. Bromden is far from
being as insane as he appears. Supposedly, after losing his native lands, he goes mad and arrives
in the sanitorium, but pretends to be both deaf and dumb, overhearing everything that happens
there. The book is written from his perspective. Another important character is the Big Nurse,
Mrs. Ratched. She is the one that actually controls the system. She hates everyone and terrorizes
the patients, by suppressing each patients identity. Imagine a machine with a humans face,
driven, in my opinion, by the motto divide and conquer. Long story short, she even incites to
gossip. The patients are being encouraged to spy one another, and whatever gossip is found, she
expects to be written in the logbook. The award? More hours of sleep, the next morning. Sounds
quite intelligent for someone trying to control everything, am I right?
The third very important character is Mr. McMurphy, another so called crazy patient,
a felon. He is the stereotype of a man who believes has everything under control, until he finds
out there are bigger evils than him. He isnt crazy at all: he acted like it, he manipulated the
situation, in order to escape from the 6 months sentence at a farm, believing he could play his
tricks at the sanitarium, too. He partially did.
Now, I wouldnt want to bore you with details, but I need to summarise for you the most
important actions of the novel. There are many things that happen in this book: from McMurphy
trying to bring all the patients against Mrs. Ratched, to McMurphy and Bromden being sent for
electroshock therapy, or McMurphy causing the suicide of one of his colleagues, after one of his
crazy ideas didnt end well. Last, but not least, Mrs. Ratched is attacked by McMurphy, Mrs.
Ratched finally losing her authority. McMurphy is moved to another hospital. Mrs. Ratched
demands McMurphy to be lobotomized, which actually happens. The book ends with
McMurphys death, caused by Bromden, and Bromdens escape.
Even though the novel appeared many years ago (1962), I truly believe it exposes things
that apply in our days, too. First, the nurse, Mrs. Ratched, is a typical selfish leader: she wants
only her good, it doesnt matter for her what needs to be done, in order to accomplish what she
wants. She has a few subordinates (the black boys - you will see) as expected, that listen to her.
Here I would like for you to read the next quote, underlining the influence she has over
everybody else: She never gives order out loud or leaves written instructions that might be
found by a visiting wife or schoolteacher. Doesnt need to anymore. 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. Unfortunately, I believe this is what happens in many
hospitals nowadays, too. As doctors, we must never forget why we are here: to ease, to reduce a
humans pain, to cure, and we must never put our necessities above our patients.
Furthermore, another important idea that can be deduced from this novel is the
importance of self confidence, in many situations. The Big Nurses intentions were based on
undermining the importance of the patients as HUMAN BEINGS, making them feel miserable,
unable to do anything on their own, without the help of the institute. Another quote, which I
found to be relevant, belongs to one of the patients: I cant help it. I was born a miscarriage.
I had so many insults I died. I was born dead. I cant help it. Im tired. Im give out trying.
You got chances. I had so many insults I was born dead. You got it easy. I was born dead,
an life was hard. Im tired. Im tired out talking and standing up. I been dead 55 years.
As expected, the sanitarium did nothing to help him feel otherwise.
Finally, what I found very interesting (I actually did a little research for that) is the name
of the novel. Apparently, it is part of a song for children One flew east, one flew west, / One
flew over the cuckoos nest. Flying over the cuckoos nest is probably a way of expressing that
someone is crazy (think back to elementary school when youd call people "cuckoo" as an
insult). The paradox here, for me, is that the character that I would have expected to be crazy, at
the end of the novel, Bromden, is, in fact, by the closing of the novel, remarkably sane.
McMurphy, the guy who enters the sanitarium seeming pretty sane, although mischievous, ends
up being lobotomized. As a result, McMurphy is probably the character who "flew over the
cuckoos nest."
I have mixed feelings after reading this book, for it speaks some ugly truths of our
society. I dont know if I convinced you to read it, but the least you could do is to watch the
movie based on it (which I must do, too).
Now, if I may, I would like for you to watch the trailer of the movie. Hope you enjoy it!
Thank you.