Woman In Ken Kesey's One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

2943 words - 12 pages

Missing Works Cited

Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is a comedy book in which he dealt with the issues of racism, sex and authority that is going on in a mental institute. In the novel, the women are depicted as the power figures who are able to significantly manipulate the patients on the ward. There are four ways of Ken Kesey’s using of “woman” as a subject: Superiority of male sexuality over female authority, matriarchal system that seeks to castrate men in the society, mother figures as counterpart of Big Nurse and “Womanish” values defined as civilizing in the novel.

Over centuries women have been objectified, meaning they have been treated as objects valued mostly for their physical attributes, rather than human intellect. And seeing that, Ken Kesey, with the character McMurphy, leaned towards the superiority of male sexuality over female authority. As a rebellious man (and a man making girls and women have sexual intercourse without consent), McMurphy, ruins Nurse Ratched’s authority with some moves that contain sexuality. Like one time, when McMurphy rips open her uniform, when he attempts to strangle her, he reveals her womanhood and humanity. This act of McMurphy helps to destroy the dominator nurse’s authority. In fact he not only destroys with his moves, but also does it orally. For example, when his name is spelled wrong (as McMurry ) by the doctor, he corrects him by using a sexual anecdote from his uncle (Hallahan). McMurphy’s uncle Hallahan –who was called Hooligan by a woman- stops her by raping her. The doctor asks McMurphy the way his uncle stopped her and McMurphy says : “Ah-ah now, I can’t be tellin’ that. I keep Unk Hallanhan’s method a strict secret, you see, in case I need to use it myself someday.” (Kesey 45), and he says this directly looking at the nurse. An incident like this happens during the group therapy when Nurse Ratched asks “ [...] his wife’s ample bosom at times gives him a feeling of inferiority . So. Does anyone care to touch upon this subject further?” and McMurphy, holding his hand up, asks for permission to speak and says “Touch upon what?” and Nurse Ratched in a shocked way says “What? Touch-” and adds “ Touch upon the subject of Mr. Harding’s problem with his wife.” And McMurphy says “Oh. I thought you mean touch upon her - something else.”(44). Speaking of breasts, McMurphy usually asks Big Nurse’s breast size, “the actual inch-by-inch measurement”, and he collapses her authority when she feels it’s topmost: “ [...] then destroyed her whole effect by asking something like did she wear a B cup, or a C cup, or any ol’ cup at all?”(176-7). So, as we can understand, McMurphy’s insulting manners to get over her dominion includes men sexuality with his fifty to position cards, his pride in having had a voracious fifteen-year-old lover and his Moby-Dick boxer shorts, clashes with the sterile and sexless ward that Nurse Ratched tries to maintain.

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