One Flew East, One Flew West

884 words - 4 pages

In the early 1960’s, Ken Kesey worked in the psych ward in a veterans hospital as an aide. During the course of his job, Kesey realized the administrators were giving patients experimental LSD to cope with their mental illnesses. After seeing this being done, he started to wonder, who is mentally stable and what classifies a person as insane (Kesey)? With this in mind Ken Kesey wrote, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. This classic novel depicts the image of a psych ward under control by the manipulative, Nurse Ratched. The patients on the ward are lifeless; every waking moment is scheduled and controlled, until one day when a new patient, Patrick McMurphy arrives. Patrick McMurphy brings life back into the patients and helps them push the boundaries. With McMurphy on the ward there becomes a new normal. When answering the question of what normalcy is, Kesey uses character development, symbols, and motifs to give insight of the psychological well-being of others and how it shifts with positive and negative changes.
The characters in this novel portray different levels of mental stability. Throughout One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest each of the main characters undergoes a notable shift in their mental states (Rutten). The schizophrenic narrator, Chief Bromden is indubitably insane in the beginning. As the narrator, he gives insight into the inner workings of the hospital. All of what he sees is stated as fact but, it cannot be taken literally since a portion of it is based off of hallucinations and paranoia (Waxler). He states early on "it's the truth even if it didn't happen" (Kesey, 8). He often takes looks back into his childhood. During these flashbacks he describes himself as small and his parents as large. In Chief's mind characters will change sizes based on their weak or powerful presence, this continues with how he perceives Nurse Ratched and Patrick McMurphy. Chief comes from an oppressed past and believes that this is a source of his schizophrenia; his flashbacks provide clarity for him about the way his is now (Waxler). Once Chief starts to shift into sanity, he imagines himself growing larger into his own individual self. When he is self aware he runs away from the cuckoo's nest. Patrick McMurphy is the newest patient admitted to the psych ward. McMurphy claims that he is a psychopath, when he is just a lazy criminal who did not to be placed on a work farm. In the beginning he strives to make the ward normal, by his standards so he brings in laughter and mayhem . (ADD IN EXAMPLES) After his antics he becomes...

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